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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Consequences Will Bite You in the Butt

When you become an adult and decisions are more complicated, consequences, too, are somewhat more complicated.  While they can be predictable, they are sometimes delayed, sometimes obscure - not always immediately recognizable. You're never quite sure when the consequences will rear up and bite you in the butt.

When you're a child, however, consequences are, as a lot of other things in childhood, quite swift and straightforward. Blissfully predictable.

And sometimes, NOT blissfully.

Recently, someone created a Facebook group for people who grew up in Perry County, Indiana.  It's been almost 30 years since I lived in Tell City, so I've been having a good time reminiscing about the "good old days" when my only job during the summer was leaving on my bike after breakfast and not returning until supper time. No one wondered where we were and no thoughts of kidnapping even entered the parents' heads. Seven was the age of freedom - the age we could be left alone and better yet, TRUSTED not to get into mischief, or at least not complain if we did and some other adult corrected us for it.  It was expected. No one locked their doors.  It was like the Our Gang of the late 60s and early 70s.

When I was 4 or 5, we were at a funeral and then the required after-visit at the home of some unknown relative or another. Adults reminisce about the dearly departed, eat the mountain of food the whole town has brought by, cry, hug and do the "tisk tisk, he was so young" thing.  The children are allowed to run free, save the inevitable pinching of the cheeks and "she's so cute" if you're not fast enough to get away from heavy set Great Aunt Mable.  Children are also a lot closer to the floor, which is where all the women put their huge "old lady" purses, gaping open, inviting.  Especially inviting when there is CHOCOLATE just sitting there, calling your name.  Even at 4 or 5, I knew better than to take something from someone's purse.  But it was CHOCOLATE! I couldn't read what was on the package, but the picture on the box was definitely chocolate.  Unfortunately, Ex-Lax is NOT the brand of "chocolate" you really want to steal from Great Aunt Mable's purse.

Consequences? Swift and predictable. But I never again took anything from anyone's purse. But children are so literal at that age.  Taking something from somewhere else, apparently, was NOT the same as taking from someone's purse.

Fast forward 2 or 3 years.

My neighbor and I were playing and wishing we had some bubblegum.  At 6 or 7, your world is fairly simple, as are your wants.  Bubblegum made just about anything better.  Well, I knew where Mom had hidden some gum!  And to impress Sonya, who was a year older and never let me forget, I told her about it.  It was in the top of the highest cabinet in the kitchen.  So we pulled up a chair to the counter, climbed up, stretched, used a wooden spoon to knock it off the shelf and into our waiting hands.  It was a box of orange-flavored gum!  So we each took a piece.  But it wasn't very good - the flavor disappeared almost immediately.  So we took another piece each.  And again and again.  We chewed the entire box of gum.  I made a mental note to tell Mom not to buy that kind of gum anymore because it was yucky.  But before I could deliver the message, consequences of stealing that gum bit us both on the butts.  Hard.  Turns out Feen-a-mint isn't really what we thought it was.

It was about a week before I was able to go outside and play, which was just as well because Sonya's mom wouldn't allow her to play with me for a MONTH!  Shortly after that, we moved. As I look back, I'm fairly certain it had nothing to do with me nearly killing both of us, but back then, I was SURE that was the reason.

But I learned my lesson!  From that point forward, I never took ANYTHING that wasn't mine. Not even a pencil.


  1. hahaha very valuable lesson indeed. I feel so bad for your poor childhood colon.

  2. Bahahaha What are the odds? Twice you take a treat and both times it turns out to be a laxative. Poor kid.


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