At what age are you considered an adult?
The actual chronological age for this maturity seems to vary from country to country and even within a country there are many different age levels that have to be reached in order to do something legally...
Smoking, voting, babysitting, leaving home, driving a motorbike, a moped, a car, an HGV, having sex, buying a lottery ticket, working - all have different ages at which they become legally available to you, but when do you actually feel like a fully paid up member of the grownups?
Legally in Britain you can smoke at 18, in fact after the age of 18 there's nothing you can't do, so you must be an adult then...but from the age of 13 you're allowed to work a certain number of hours per week and after 16 you can buy a lottery ticket, work full-time and even get married.
The legal age of consent is an interesting one as it varies drastically throughout the world, with some countries having different ages for male and female and some saying they have to be married...the lowest age I found was 12 (gulp) in the Philipines and Mexico, most were 16, while dependant on which US state you're in you might be legal or not...and worryingly I've just discovered that the legal age in Germany is 14...
The next tricky one for me personally is driving, in Germany kids can legally ride scooters - a Mofa, with a max. speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) & only the driver is allowed on the bike, from the age of 15, no license is required, but a written test has to be completed (gulp) Loads of the kids at Ben's gymnasium have mofa's and mopeds...I can hear the arguments already and he's only 12!
Whilst the legal age for driving a car in Germany is 18, the same as for most countries (apart from the UK which is 17, and Australia where it varies from state to state - how mad is that?)
And so to drinking, again this varies hugely, from 15 in Tunisia to 21 in North America and 25 in Delhi and in Germany they can drink beer at 16 and distilled alcohol at 18 while in Britain it's 18 across the board.
But at what age are you a grown up?
I had this conversation with a friend recently (it was probably late at night following too many martinis...as you will realise by the profound reasoning that followed)
Both of us are a long way away from any of the above mentioned age restrictions, married and with children (which should make us feel our age) but neither of us feel like grown ups, not proper grown ups - we are both aware that come the Xmas hols and we find ourselves watching a film with our parents, we know we will cringe when there's a sex scene.
So my startling discovery was that I don't think I will ever feel like a fully paid up member of the grown ups club while I have someone I can ring and start the call with 'Mommm' or 'Dadddd' in that childlike whine.
I just found a great quote:
You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
I better go buy M&D the full set of Blackadder and Monty Python on DVD!!