Twenty-one! What is so special about turning twenty-one? I wasn’t sure about this idea at all. I say let us celebrate turning twenty with a bang. Turning twenty is a BIG deal! Think about it, first of all, you are no longer a teenager. Twenty! It is the big two 0!
I always knew turning 20 is a huge deal. But when Sri turned twenty last year, she put it in the best way possible. She said, “Mom, I am turning 20! I don’t want to! I am growing up, now there is a 2 something in my age.” She said, “You don’t understand Mom.” I told her I understood the fact that she is in her twenties now. To which she replied, “No, Mom, that’s not it. This is the decade that determines my future!” I thought about this, and realized that she is right. Sri couldn’t have described how turning 20 is so important any better than that. The twenties is the decade when we set a course for our future. This is the decade when monumental life changing events occur. We graduate from college, get a job, build a career, maybe get married, and maybe even start a family. Wow, this is an epic decade in our lives. So when you compare turning 20 to turning 21, 21 just don’t cut it.
However I was curious, why is it that we make such a big deal about turning 21? Is it because this is the legal age when we can start drinking alcohol? Is this really what turning 21 is all about? Is alcohol that important that we celebrate it with such pomp and circumstance? Besides in other countries you can start drinking at the age of 18.
What is the significance of this age 21 in cultures all over the world? This is what I learnt. Most of the world looks at turning 21 in a similar way; it’s about becoming an adult. Turning 21 is a coming of age of sorts. For example, according to the web site Medieval Chronicles, in the middle ages in England, 21 is when a boy became a Knight and was ready to take on the responsibilities of marriage and family. In Asian cultures 21 is the age when a young man gets his first real job and is looked at by families of daughters as someone who is earning a living, and therefore ready to take on a wife and start a family. The expectations from this person are more serious now. An adult who now makes adult decisions. People start looking at 21 year olds differently. There are adult responsibilities that a 21 year old is expected to fulfill.
Many laws take on greater significance too when one becomes 21. Did you know that in America, under the Immigration and Nationality Act the definition of an immigrant child is defined in part as an unmarried person under the age of 21. This definition is important because it directly impacts the type of relationship one can claim with their parents when they want to apply for lawful permanent resident. Because once you turn 21, you don’t qualify to apply for a green card or a visa along with your parents. Once you turn 21, you become ineligible for residency and have to wait five more years before you can apply again. This is big. Turning 21 has huge consequences here! Congress saw the problem in this law as many families have to wait years to become citizens and through no fault of their own, their children who turn 21 are not eligible for citizenship or green card. This law got amended in 2014; now as long as the child is living with their parents and unmarried, even if they already turned 21 they can still apply for citizenship.
Any way you look at it, turning 21 is a big milestone. We will celebrate our first-born daughter Sri turning 21. With alcohol? If she so chooses, she is 21 now. Along with alcohol comes the responsibilities of a 21 year old – drinking in moderation, not succumbing to peer pressure, and not drinking and driving.
Being 21 means making responsible decisions, and taking responsibility for your own actions. Because now at the age of 21 you are a real adult, with a lifetime of opportunities and experiences ahead of you. And this is something wonderful to celebrate!
Happy 21st Birthday Sri (April, 7)
Love you! Mom, Dad, Anjali & Rani
Went to Santana Row with the family for dinner to celebrate Sri’s 21st Birthday.
Had a delicious dinner at Sri’s favorite restaurant Pizza Antica where Sri had her inaugural drink of a Moscato d’ Asti.
To Sri’s twin sister Sonali – A Happy 21st birthday to you too!
Love, Kalpana Aunty, Hitesh Uncle, Anjali & Rani
For more details on information found in this post check out these web sites. ehow Traditions around the world, 21st Brithday Party Ideas Botswana Youth U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Madieval Chronicles