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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Collecting grown-up points is about responsibility

By Andreas Arvman
Advertiser Columnist

It took me a while to start accumulating grown-up points.

After you move out of your parents' house, the first ones you add to your scorecard are usually pretty lightweight. Buying a potted plant: 1 grown-up point. Keeping it alive for a year: 10 points. I never got into double digits on that one.

Then gradually you make your way into big-ticket territory. Getting your own car and taking full responsibility for monthly payments: 100 grown-up points. Paying it off: 2,000 points. I finally scored big in that category in August this year. Yeah!

Renting your own place is easily 500 points. Buying it is another 5,000. And if you pay off your house or condo, well, then you actually get retiree points. I'm not worrying about that too much yet.

It's important to note that grown-up points are not about money, though. They're more about the responsibility that is needed for, among other things, wisely managing whatever finances you have. If grown-up points were about money, the points would lose significance. Think about it: Spencer Pratt from MTV's "The Hills" has a ton of stuff and a mountain of bling, all paid for, but I'd be hard-pressed to give him even half a grown-up point.

No, this accounting system is about responsibility. If you want to collect some serious grown-up points, try making a romantic relationship work. Having a steady girlfriend or boyfriend: 10,000 points for every year you're together. Add marriage to that: 25,000 grown-up points. And no, Spencer's eloping with poor, clueless Heidi doesn't count. I'm talking about a marriage, not a photo op for the blogs.

When your marriage is up and running, there are plenty of opportunities to get even more grown-up points. If you bring a reusable shopping bag to Safeway every time, help yourself to 200 points. If you're a guy and you change the oil on her car, collect 500 points. If you're a girl and you change the oil on his car, collect 5,000 points.

Of course, if you really want to play ball, have a kid. Now you're in six figures, baby: 100,000 points. That's a lot of potted plants.

Still, even adding more offspring doesn't get you near the motherlode for grown-up points. You want to make it a million? Go for the textbook Christmas.

Hand-write the Christmas cards and send them out in time. All of them. Get thoughtful and meaningful gifts to everyone at work without giving the same thing to more than one person. Build a gingerbread house based on the blueprint of your home. Hang up the Christmas lights before all your neighbors. Keep a conversation going at the company Christmas party without talking about work. Greet every caroler with a smile without pretending that you're not home or that you can't hear them. Eat the fruitcake.

If you can say "check" to all of the above, then you, my friend, are a grown-up. And the rest of us, we'll just chill with some eggnog and try to remember what all the fuss about growing up was about, anyway. After all, Christmas is a time for kids. We can worry about all that responsibility and stuff later. For now, let's just go to Longs and buy a couple of poinsettias. That's two easy points and a Merry Christmas.

Reach Andreas Arvman at aarvman@honoluluadvertiser.com.