Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the time of my youth. You know, back when rocks were soft and dinosaurs roamed the earth. It has often been said that life is a learning process, although lately mine seems to be more of a ‘forgetting’ process than anything else. I do believe that much of what I know now I learned by the time I was ten.
Looking back, I don’t think I was the good little boy my mother remembers me being. I was also probably not too bright, based on some things I remember doing. Why do I remember them? I haven’t a clue. Why do I feel that I should share them with you today? I haven’t a clue about that, either. Anyway, here goes.
Twenty things I had learned by the time I was ten:
Never be the first one on the playground slide if it rained last night. (That, as with many other things, I learned the hard way. In this case the wet way. I got a lot of attention in school the rest of the day.)
Do NOT fight with your older brother on your parent’s brand-new couch. You might end up waiting in the cellar for your dad to get home from work. (He was a softie, but we wouldn’t learn that for several more years.)
Sticking a butter knife into a wall socket is not the smartest thing you could do to entertain yourself. (Somewhat self-explanatory.)
If you put a fever thermometer on the bathroom heater, your mother will still make you go to school.
Never try to give your cat a bath. (Also, self-explanatory.)
Don’t call your friend a sissy if he’s bigger than you. (Tried it. Didn’t like what happened next.)
Molasses and grasshopper poop look EXACTLY the same, and that is where the similarity ends.
Never play marbles for ‘keepsies’ with my friend Alan. After all, that is where the term ‘losing your marbles’ came from.
You should never shove a raw potato onto the pastor’s car’s tail pipe before church. (After church is better because by the time he tries to start his car you will have already gone home.)
It’s okay to help your friends fill your teacher’s convertible with dry leaves after school; just don’t get caught. (It did look pretty cool that way, though.)
If you and your friends mistakenly trick-or-treat at the Elk’s Club Halloween party you probably shouldn’t drink the punch!
An old pot filled with lawnmower gas and put under that pile of dry leaves you’re going to burn doesn’t qualify as autumn fireworks, but almost.
If you spill a gallon of milk on the back seat of your family’s new car, not telling your parents about it will catch up with you, in about two days.
Girls don’t really have cooties. At least the pretty ones don’t.
Never (even by mistake) step on a potato somehow left on the top cellar stair. Your butt will end up sorer than that time you fought with your brother on the new couch.
Taking a nap when you’re 7 or 8, across the chairs pushed under the dining room table is fun and can provide your family and neighbors an afternoon of healthy exercise looking for you in the woods.
Don’t drink children’s nose drops, (they used to make those.) unless you want to terrify your mother and sleep for two days.
UFOs are real. (Ask me how I know this, later.)
If you wear a snow suit you can take a very comfortable nap in a snowbank. This I learned WAYYY before I was ten.
If the pigs (somehow) get out of the pen your mom will let you skip school to catch them. (A good thing to know on test day.)
Number twenty-one: (I thought there were only twenty. Oh well.)
A ten-year-old really can drive a car, providing it’s an old column-shift Rambler and you take it up into the family field when Dad’s at work.
Number twenty-two: (My Favorite)
Nothing tastes better than a stolen watermelon.
So, as a child, maybe especially as a child, but I’m not sure about that, we all want to be good. We’re just not very good AT it.
Have fun and behave yourself. (At least try.)