Gimme a Smile: Things I've learned the hard way

Posted: Sunday, November 14, 2010

People always want to give me advice, to improve my life from the benefit of their greater wisdom (or their mistakes). It never seems to work. I have to make my own mistakes before I ever learn. Still, I'm going to ignore what I just said, and attempt to pass on my greater wisdom to you. Here's a short list of things I've learned the hard way.

• If your grandma says to stay out of the tall grass because yellow jackets nest there, she means "six inches tall," not "as tall as my waist."

• If your big sister sees a small mound in the tall grass and says, "I'll step on it if you will," don't fall for it.

• Yellow jackets hurt when they sting you.

• If a young child says, "I have to go to the bathroom - I can't hold it," believe him. Likewise for the phrase, "I feel like I'm going to throw up."

• If you get a great idea in a flash of inspiration, write it down immediately. It may disappear as the flash fades.

• Don't leave your dirty dishes to do the next morning when you're nine months pregnant.

• Don't expect the New York City subway to get you to the airport on time for your overseas flight that you simply can't miss because you're supposed to get there first to meet your friend when she steps off her plane in Bombay.

• People don't like it when you shove in front of them in the airport security line.

• If you find the perfect white blouse at the mall, don't keep looking for something better and expect it to still be there when you get back.

• The turn-off to the Camping Cove cabin is easy to miss if you're not paying attention to the trail.

• It's pretty dark in the woods at 10 p.m., even in the summer.

• It's hard to find your relay team at the swim meet when everyone's wearing swim caps and you had to take your glasses off.

• Running games at recess in the Florida sun can make you pass out.

• It's easy for your elementary school friends to confuse the terms "passed out," and "passed away."

• It's a good idea to back up your work on the computer, especially if you ever want to see it again.

• Pine tree branches may look like they're thick enough to bear your weight, but they're not.

• "My typewriter broke the night before my senior thesis was due," sounds like a lame excuse, unless it's true.

• It's really hard to use an electric typewriter when you're used to banging away on a manual.

• Senior thesis conclusions are overrated.

• Close doesn't count in the Nenana Ice Classic. If your guess is twenty minutes off the official time the ice goes out, you don't get a dime.

• One newspaper column is not nearly long enough to list all the things I've learned the hard way.

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and aspiring children's author who lives in Juneau. She likes to look at the bright side of life.

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