I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, the swiftest soapbox in the derby, or the brightest bulb in the four-pack, but I managed to learn a few lessons when I was a kid. I may have learned them the hard way, but learn them, I did. So, in the spirit of sparing others the pain, the aggravation, and the embarrassment I experienced, I share the following list of life lessons, in no particular order:
1. If you ride a bicycle in flip-flops, you jeopardize the integrity of your big toes. I spent entire summers with the skin scrubbed off the tips of these toes by concrete sidewalks and curbs — sorta makes you wonder why I didn’t just switch to wearing sneakers.
2. If you drape a bathrobe over a lamp to fashion a makeshift night light because your sleepover friend is scared of the dark, you can end up scorching holes in both the lampshade and the bathrobe. And you could come dangerously close to burning down the house.
3. The same dog that will steal the toast and jelly you accidentally dropped at breakfast will also eat the bread crust you don’t want from your sandwich at lunch if you hold it under the table. That there’s a two-way street.
4. There was a reason why my mom instructed me to use the toilet, wash my hands, and brush my teeth before heading back to school after lunch, in that order.
5. If you find a golf ball and then cut the dimpled outer covering off of it and then start unraveling the very long rubber string that is wound tightly around the core, you will eventually get to a solid rubber center, at which point you could realize you have just ruined a perfectly good golf ball that you could have sold back to a golfer.
6. If you tie one end of a long string around your loose tooth and the other end to a door knob and then slam the door, it will still hurt, even if someone assures you it won’t. But it does end the loose tooth drama much more quickly than wiggling it forever.
7. Say NO if your brother, or any other boy, asks you if you want an Indian Sunburn. Trust me on this.
8. Parents and teachers who pin notes to the collar of your clothing do not trust you to deliver written messages to the other. Nor do they care how silly you look wearing mail.
9. If you feed raisins to your two and a half month old sibling because you just wanted to share your snack with the baby and then proudly tell your mom how generous you were, you will get an immediate reaction. And not necessarily the one you were expecting.
10. If for some unknown reason the neighborhood boys become interested in one of your girls’ games — let’s just say, hopscotch — and you actually teach it to them, your beloved game is liable to morph into some jet-propelled galactic version of its former self, taking on such gargantuan proportions that the final mutation could become virtually unrecognizable to you.
11. You can — you really can — chew too many pieces of Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum at one time. The size of the bubble this much gum will allow you to make is on par with a basketball. Clean-up… will take… a minute… or two.
12. Never — I repeat, NEVER — bite into an unripe persimmon. To find out if the persimmon is ripe, ask an adult. Because you just can’t trust an older kid to deliver accurate information on persimmons.
13. You can get a balloon to stick to your sweater if you rub it on your hair. You don’t want to try this on the dog.
15. If an older kid tells you he’ll trade you his nickel for your dime and that you are getting a good deal because it’s a “bigger” coin and all, you are not getting a good deal.
16. If you let a cat play with the hot water bottle, you can end up with a soggy bed.
18. You will not, in fact, break your mother’s back if you step on a sidewalk crack.
19. There is a reason your parents tell you not to stick your fingers, or any other object, in an electrical outlet.
20. You can fall asleep in the car on the way home from a visit at your grandparents’ and the next thing you know you are magically waking up in your bed in the morning.