What doesn’t kill us, teaches us

How many times to children escape stupid mistakes before they learn from them?

I was thinking last week of all the dumb things we did as kids, after reading a news story about a 13 year old Calgary boy who was playing hide and seek and found a great hiding spot in his mom’s washing machine. Trouble was, he couldn’t get out. He curled himself around the agitator and neither he nor his grandmother could get him out. It took members of the Calgary Fire Dept. over half an hour to pry him loose.

All the while, his stress was caused by the thought that his mother would find out.

Well, as we grow older, we find out that there really is nothing worse in this life than mom (and dad) finding out just how stupid we’ve been.

Because, we may not realize it at the time, but our parents’ expectations of us to “act like big kids” or like adults are our “gold standard” as children, and we don’t like to fall short of those standards.

I recall one incident in particular when my older brother and I (he was always getting me into trouble!) went down to a construction site at the end of our street one weekend morning to do a little “exploring.” I think I was about 8 years old at the time. And did I mention that my mother had told us, in no uncertain terms, that we were to stay away from that site? I ended up tearing a small hole in my jeans as I was climbing out of a cement conduit. We were terrified that she would find out, because moms and dads ALWAYS know what you’ve been up to. It’s one of those great mysteries of childhood. It wasn’t like we’d never been punished before, but knowing that she was disappointed in us was the hardest thing to take.

I suppose that it’s that standard that we hold ourselves to, even as children, and the fear of disappointing those we love and those who love us that keep us growing into adulthood. We don’t stop doing the really stupid things that get us into trouble, or worse – they may even get more dangerous as we grow older, but (if) we live and learn from our mistakes, hopefully never to repeat them.

This young man will never forget the fundamental law that it’s easier to get into something than it is to get out of it.

Wendy Coomber is the editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal