North American Weirdness: Age Appropriate Activities Edition

Welcome back to North American Things That I Still Find Weird Despite Spending Two Decades Here: Age Appropriate Activities Edition

I was born in Finland but have lived in Canada since I was 11. In the years since moving, my penchant for soap-boxing has combined with nostalgic childhood fairy-dust into the terribly annoying habit of picking on North American ways of doing things. And then telling you about how much better it is across the ocean (conveniently omitting any unflattering bits). This is just one of the many perks of interacting with me! I suppose I should also mention that I continue to live in Canada and have no plans to move, so take that as you will. Not that that makes me any less right.

I have done most of my adult-ifying in North America, but that doesn’t stop me from finding it all rather weird.

Exhibit A: Letting kids drive. Because 16 years old is a kid. That’s not just my opinion based on the mind blowing ignorance they display online – I’m pretty sure actual medical professionals will tell you that teenagers do not have fully developed impulse control. Which turns out to be essential for holding back the impulse to pimp up your car metallic one-tonne murder-device with other smelly teenagers, loud music, and a lead-heavy foot on the accelerator. My point: I’m pretty sure you should at least be trusted to wield a vote before you can wield an automobile.

Exhibit B: Not letting adults drink. I’m referring here to the narrow band of adults between the ages of 18 and 19 in Canada (which I find slightly silly) and 18 and 21 in the US (which I find ludicrous). I’m no lawyer but I believe for most other purposes the law considers you to be an adult after 18: you can vote, you’ll get in pretty deep shit if you break the law, and you can buy a gun! – all years before you can be trusted to operate a beer. But then again I’m one of those wacko liberal European types who thinks alcohol is better introduced slowly and in the safety of your parents’ home than through a beer bong at a frat party. (Are beer bongs a thing? Seems like they should be. I honestly have no idea.)

Exhibit C: Not letting adults out after dark. Specifically to establishments that offer dancing and drinking. I haven’t quite figured out the finer details but as far as I can tell this applies to anyone who has children and/or is over the age of 40 (if you’re a parent in your 30’s it’s vaguely acceptable – as in you probably won’t have the authorities called on you – but be careful). Acceptable forms of socializing for these mature stages of adulthood appear to be: the PTA, dinner parties with other couples, coaching a sports team, and mommy-yoga. If you leave your house in the evening hours to socialize in other settings you are clearly a cougar/non-dedicated parent/creeper in a mid-life crisis.

Luckily in Finland it is quite common – practically expected – that people go out regardless of their age. On a trip a few years ago I had the best time dancing up a storm with my mom at a bar where neither of us was out of place and we both actually liked the music. In fact, no one considers getting married/having children/turning 30/turning 40/turning 50/turning 60 to be the end of fun. And AMEN to that.


Posted on April 10, 2012, in Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I love your take on things. And agree certainly with the alcohol thing. Always thought that it was ridiculous.

  2. tamera jane @ verhext

    I was just thinking about the driving thing this morning! So many kids have accidents, it’s terrible. Also, when I was growing up in Vermont, Canada was 18, and so was Vermont! I remember it changing and my cousin being 16 and SO PISSED.

    I don’t really mind the drinking age being 21, actually, and I doubt that lowering it would change the fact that frat ragers are where people start drinking. If you’re raised that way, you are, no matter what the age.

    In cities you go out at all ages – but you also don’t have kids. I have friends who are 45 going to the same hipster bars they’ve been going to for 20 years. In the country, there’s just nothing to do!!!!

    • I agree with your point about the drinking – it’s a cultural difference that goes hand in hand with the difference in law. I find that in North America people just take alcohol a lot more seriously, which in some cases actually seems to lead to MORE heavy drinking and alcohol related problems. That’s not to say Europe doesn’t have their own problems with alcohol but it’s a different culture around it. More relaxed. Alcohol is just there rather than being such a goal to seek.

  3. I agree with all these things!!! And your driving argument is an especially good one.

  4. Turns out I am easily convinced by your European ways! OMG — don’t tell anyone, they might kick me out of Amurrica!

    PS – can you tell I finally am able to catch up on your blog? I haven’t been doing any blog-reading in the past couple months. HORRIBLE.

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