The learning process

As a child, I always felt safe. We could play outside after dark without the fear that someone would take us. We knew that our parents were taking care of us. We could rely on them to keep us safe. We never even thought of dangers.

We had a "camp" in the woods with rocks all around it. We never thought about snakes or anything else that would hurt us.

The sense of security that followed us to our camp was the same sense that was with us when we were in the living room watching television or in the kitchen eating dinner.

Even when we were being dare devils, we felt safe. Nothing could hurt us as long as we listened to our parents. They had rules to follow and if we disobeyed one, we ended up with a goose egg on the head or a scraped knee.

Many times I thought my parents were too strict. I thought some of their rules were just to show me who was the boss in the family. I wasn't a rule breaker but I would sometimes bend them as far as I could and not get punished.

Many times I bent a rule too far and I found out the hard way why I was not supposed to do something. Most of the punishment came from me getting hurt.

When I first learned to ride a bike, Dad told me not to ride on gravel and slam on my brakes. He said the bike would slide out of control and I would wreck.

Being the inquisitive type, I had to see if I could slam on my brakes and not wreck. Dad was right. He got to say, "I told you so." I got a skinned knee. And the scar is still visible.

My Sunday school class used to sponsor a roller skating party at the old roller rink outside of Rimersburg. My parents were always chaperones, so there was no problem with my sisters and me going.

The older kids liked to play "crack the whip." Dad told me not to but I didn't listen. I was at the very end of the line.

We were really picking up speed. The faster we were going, the harder it was for me to hold on. Suddenly, I lost my grip and went sliding along the wall.

There was a nail sticking out of a board and, of course, my right hand found it. I almost lost my thumb. My dad saw all the blood and got very dizzy.

Mom had to take me to the doctor. I ended up with a huge bandage and my arm in a sling so I couldn't move my thumb.

Since I am right-handed, I had a terrible time doing my homework.

Dad, in his infinite wisdom, said that the reason we had two hands was so that we had a spare in case we did something to one of the hands, like try to take a nail out of the wall without a claw hammer. I had to learn to write left-handed. And that scar is still visible.

At one time, Rimersburg had the Lincoln Theater. The movie playing was "Giant." My parents and several other couples were going to see it.

Before they left, Mom told me to clean up the supper dishes before going outside to play baseball. I decided to play ball first. After all, it was a four-hour movie, so I would have plenty of time after it got dark to do the dishes.

I felt a little guilty about not doing what my mother told me to do, but baseball was much more fun than doing dishes.

The game was progressing just fine until I decided to be the hero. I was on first base and my teammate hit a slow grounder down the first base line.

I took off running and just kept going passed second base and on to third. Someone yelled for me to slide into third base and I did. I was safe but somehow my ankle was broken.

I tried to stand on my foot but it just kept flopping around. The old man who lived across the street from us came to see if I was hurt.

He helped me get home, but all I could think of was what Mom was going to do to me when she got home and saw that the dishes were not done.

She surprised me by just calling the doctor. He came to the house and wrapped my foot and leg in an ace bandage.

He said there was no sense in putting a cast on it because I would just have it picked off in a couple days. By this time Doc Briceland knew me well.

For eight weeks I had to use crutches, hop on one foot when I hated the crutches and peddle my bike with one foot. I don't know which was worse, the nail cut in my hand or the broken ankle.

While I hobbled around for two months, my mother had no sympathy for me. She said if I broke the rules, I would be the one to suffer, and she was right. I still walk like a lopped-sided duck.

I remember asking my mother how she got so much smarter than me. Her answer was, "I have been a child. You have never been a mother."

It took me several years to figure out what she meant. But when I figured out what she was telling me, I thought that I had better pay attention to her because she is one smart lady.

From that time on, with a few exceptions, I listened to my parents. If I didn't listen to their rules, I was the one who was in pain, not them. I realized their rules may have some merit.

As I got older, my parents changed from rules to suggestions. Instead of them not giving me any leeway as to the path I wanted to take, they now just made suggestions.

I didn't like a few of their suggestions because they didn't fit into my game plan. But as I got older I cherished their suggestions more and more. It was more me asking for help than them telling me what to do.

When we get older, we realize that the security we enjoyed because of our parents is no longer there. We remember what they taught us so we can successfully accept our responsibility for our own safety.

We are now in the midst of the worst pandemic in our life time. If we want to survive, we need to follow the advice of those who know how to deal with this virus. We have to take charge of our own safety.

We need to take the advice of the scientists and medical professionals. If we are told to wear a mask or keep a distance of six feet between us, that is what we should do.

I guess the lessons our parents taught us should still apply. I still hear my dad saying "I told you so," if I goof up on something. And I certainly don't want to hear my mother telling me, "You didn't listen and now you are paying for it."n

The author is a retired English teacher. Originally from Rimersburg, she resides in Leeper. She can be reached at