Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won't have time to make them all yourself. ~Alfred Sheinwold
This week my niece learnt a very important lesson.
Not to throw rocks.
She actually learnt it with the least amount of damage. There was no broken glass, no dented car, no bloodshed, chipped teeth, or trips to the emergency room.
She threw a rock across to road about two seconds before the school bus passed by. The family dog ran after it. My sister screamed bloody murder at the dog, and he did stop.
Then she continued to scream bloody murder at my niece.
(Okay as I write that I realize child services might start to take interest.. but you know what I mean).
My niece was quickly put in "time-out" to think about what just happened.
I think my sisters intention was to let her sit and imagine how horrible and guilty she would feel if she had of been the cause of the demise of the beloved family dog.
My niece is four. She didn't really grasp that concept.
Instead, for two minutes she sat and thought "oh, my Mommy is MAD at me... she did not want me to throw that rock, I wonder how long she'll be mad at me?? I wish she wasn't so mad at me.... what can I do to make her not mad"
So in her little four year old mind she devised a plan to fix things.
"But Mommy, I didn't throw the rock... Magnum did"
Second lesson of the day, don' t lie to your mother. Or at least don't always try to pin it on the dog.
This story (after the fact) was quite entertaining, (although I think traumatizing in general for my niece).
And it got me thinking about some lessons I learnt as a child without ever meaning to.
Nail Polish and Barbie Dolls don't mix.
I decided my Barbies would get in a car accident. And then need surgery. I used lipstick for the blood.
When that ran out, I used Covergirl Valentine Red #076 Nail Polish.
Looking back, perhaps this was the first sign of my resourcefulness as a make-up artist.
At the time my mother didn't quite see it as an act of a budding artist. I can still remember sitting on the kitchen counter, watching her try to scrub the polish off all the barbies, some of them loosing their eyes and their lips with the acetone.
Our one and only African American Barbie contracted Michael Jackson's skin bleaching disease.
Not all lessons have to be learnt from the destruction of property.I also learnt early on that Older brothers really are good for some things
One day I decided to follow my cat while she went exploring through the woods.
I chased her around the well, and over rocks, and finally up a tree, only to have my foot caught between two branches and get stuck.
As the malicious feline sat and watched me cry for awhile, then simply got up and trotted off as if to say "Ha, that's what you get for pestering"
(she was a cranky cat, this incident should have ended our friendship. But one lesson I've never learnt is when to let people out of my life who are only going to hurt me)
Hours later dusk was settling. (Or perhaps 20 or 30 minutes... the drama of it all kind of skews my memory... but in 5 year old time it was hours) My brother wandered through the woods and informed me that Mom was looking for me.
He probably could have left me there if he wanted to be as heartless as dear sweet Kitty. But his conscience couldn't escape my hyperventilating wails and he broke the other branches to help free me from my captivity.
And you aren't done learning lessons once you pass the age of innocence.
I learnt that Bus schedules aren't just decorations at the bus stops
No they actually mean something. And should you choose to take a bus, you should probably learn how to read them.
Figured that one out somewhere in England. I say "somewhere" because I honestly don't know where I was when I did figure that out.
I got on at my host parents bus stop... and just kept going. No one else from the Academy was on the bus, but I didn't really notice.
In fact I never really noticed anything until I realized we had gone into the country side, and back into another town, without ever passing anything that looked like the Steiner Training Academy.
It was 30 minutes before classes started. And it would be another 15 minutes back to where I started, and 15 minutes from there to the Academy.
So here, in this strange town, was where the bus decided to park for a 20 min break. It was also in this strange town that I vowed never to take a bus by myself again.
Trust me, it does no good to explain to your future employers how you can completely competent in every single way, except at understanding a simple bus schedule.
I refuse to talk about the reasons why You should always wear underwear when in a strange country. But trust me... I had not intended to learn that lesson that day either.
The one thing that does come from learning things the "unexpected way" is that they really stick with you.
I never played "ambulance" with my Barbies again. I've always appreciated my brother, and know I can count on him in an emergency.
And you can always pick me out in a foreign country...
I'm the tourist paying 10 times as much to take a cab instead of the bus, who has panty lines.
3 years ago