Sometimes the lesson we learn in life is simply a lesson about what not to do. “I’ve learned not to slide down the wooden stairs with my sled.” Great lesson for a seven-year-old, I’m going to guess, boy!
Years-ago, before what I like to believe is maturity set-in, my son and his friend tried this very thing. Now, my son and the one we fondly refer to as our other son, had the advantage of carpet, and I believe used a different sliding implement, but I recall that the lesson ended up being the same. Simply put: This is not a great idea! Lesson learned! Luckily without any major injury! I don’t believe they ever tried that one again (at least not while I was home).
Isn’t that what youth is all about? Trying things out only to realize that maybe it was not such a good idea. Adventure! Testing the limits! Pushing the edges! For my son especially, he was living the dream when he was out for adventure.
My daughter too, learned lessons about what not to do. I’ll never forget the day that she came home from first grade crying because she had gotten in trouble. (This is the daughter who in the first days of Kindergarten thought, if only for a short and deluded moment, that getting her name on the board was a good thing!) She told me that she had tried to do a cart-wheel in the classroom and had been called down for it. And to add insult to injury, the teacher had then made her, tears and all, go down to the kitchen to pick-up the snack for the class! In her mind, total humiliation. That day she learned doing cartwheels in the classroom is not a great idea.
As we grow older, we learn other, equally valuable lessons. If you speed, you might get a ticket. Drinking too many martinis makes the bed spin. Too much time in the sun without protection (any former baby oil tanners out there?) can lead to a nasty sun burn and a miserable rest of the week at the beach. Wearing a hat out when temperatures are sub-freezing is better than looking beautiful and getting frost bite. Thinking you can get home before you go to the bathroom makes for a loooong sit in traffic if you get stuck.
Some of our lessons teach us how to do something better, some, how to make it not so bad, and others, what not to do at all. Returning to the kids examples: As a parent you really do become more efficient at diapering a baby (a do-better lesson); you learn that since babies do not sleep through the night, you might want to sleep when they do during the day (a make-it-not-so-bad lesson); and that expecting a baby to sit in a car seat for eight hours might test your sanity (a things-to-avoid lesson)!
There are lessons where we get away with a little slap on the wrist (think speeding ticket) that make us sit up and take notice and lessons that we pay an ultimate price to learn (an intoxicated driver killing an innocent pedestrian).
If we aren’t making mistakes and learning, we aren’t living. I learn new things every day. Not just from the things I do, some of them not so brilliant to be sure, but also from the things that others do. I consider all the lessons I’ve learned so far, no matter what, worth the misstep. Obviously, there are some lessons that I pray I never have to learn…..
I don’t think I will be trying the sled on the stairs anytime soon. I think that just might be one of those lessons that I consider learned through somebody else.
I might, however, still leave somewhere for that trip home without making a pit stop to the bathroom (as in lesson-not-fully-learned)….but that’s what the local WaWa is for……
On the journey with you…….Kathy
(Quote: Age 7- The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)