We learn so much from mistakes. Like that time when we were six, and we stared with wide eyes at the pot of boiling water on the stove, mesmerized. What would happen if we put our finger in there? We sneak a glance at Mom cutting the celery on the other side of the kitchen, cutting celery, yakking on her cell phone about someone from her pottery class. Putting on a brave face, we turn to the pot of steaming water. Before we could think more, our index finger goes under the water. Screams.
Since that first experience, have you stuck your finger in a pot of boiling water again? Ahem, excuse me. By choice? No. By shoving our fingers in that hot water, we got hurt. Our brain registered that. From now on, no more fingers vs. boiling water matches. My father always says "We learn from mistakes" and it's true.
I've put together a little scrapbook of mistakes and mishaps I've had through the years, both physical and emotional, that I've learned from.
5 years-old: I was coming home from a night at my Aunties house, and I had many fun stories to tell my parents. I rushed to my house, tripping up the steps, my cheeks blistered red from the cold. I burst through the door, my mouth already chattering about Auntie C's new cat, when I saw the stony looks on my parents' faces. They slowly told me that they were getting divorced, and that Mommy was moving back to Connecticut for awhile. They tried their best to comfort me, but my world was cracked. I learned that sometimes in five seconds, your priorities and your world, can turn upside down. Tears rand down my face, over those fiery red cheeks, and onto my little hands.
6 years-old: See example boiling water example. Fun, I know
8 years-old: If you know me, you have probably heard about my weak ankles. I've sprained and twisted them so many times, I can't even keep track. The first time was when I was eight. My father was hosting a Christmas party for the people at his work at our house, which meant adults, a toxic concoction of perfumes and shrimp cocktails. I was, of course, riled up and completely bored, which is a bad combination. I sought my dad's large armchair with matching boxy foot stool for relief. I started at the back of the chair, betting that I, SuperEmmy, could jump over the seat of the chair AND the foot stool. So arrogant. I made it about half that far, and a severely sprained right ankle and a sore left. It put the pep right back into the party for me, leaning back in the armchair, staring proudly at my bandaged feet. It was later that night when the pain hit me that I learned some things, no matter how much attention they draw, really aren't worth it.
12 years-old: A little rebel. It was winter break, and I was in the Adirondacks at our family's with my cousins for a week. We were having a ball, making snowmen, having snowball fights, and finally we decide to go sledding. We found the greatest hill. Great hills, obviously, mean they are all fun to go down, but a pain to walk back up. On about my third run, I was trudging up the hill when I realized how stupid these big winter boots were. They were a bit to big, and making my ascent horrible. So I took them off. Right there in the snow, in my socks. My father started screaming to get my boots on, and so instead of doing what I was told, I put my boots on my sled and shoved them down the hill at him, sneering. It was only then that I thought about how I needed that sled I had just shot down the hill carrying my boots. So I flopped down the huge hill, my feet beyond freezing, to face Daddy with a told-you-so expression on his features. As if my soaking feet weren't enough, he wouldn't give me my boots back until I called Mommy, my Aunt and Uncle and Grandparents back at the cabin what happened. I was embarrassed, and it was my Grandma who told me "See what not thinking gets you in to? You have to start thinking a lot more on how you're going to fix it."
14 years-old: Ever since I was about 14, my friends and I have made the alleyways surrounding our houses our per hang out. We still do, to this day. One hot summer afternoon, eight of us were sitting out behind my house, making general noise, but at least being respectable. Even still, the "alley watch" or the old man who's house faces the alley, came out to yell at us. He really is ancient, and crazy, too, our neighbors say. This was the first time my friends and I had met him, so we were unaware of this, and thought he was just any old grumpy man. "Stop making so much racket!" then he stopped and sniffed the air. "You're doing drugs!" He shouted, although we were doing no such thing. We were innocent, just sitting, chatting. "I'm calling the police!" The old man shouted. With a smirk, Richard called back. "Go ahead. Do it then." I don't know exactly what the old, crazy man had said, but in 10 minutes, squad cars had driven up, and it took a good hour to clear everything up. Not to mention having to get our parents. Never doubt somebody when they say they are going to do something, because it just might roll up to that. This same thing has happened 20 times since. That old guy never gives up. My friends and I still remain his favorite target. It takes persistence, all right. And on our part, swift legs.
17 years-old: This is the last one, yes. I still make mistakes to this day, and I am still learning. It all started Friday night. Ray's parents were out of town, and so 30 people crowded into his house. After hours of dancing and talking, a few of my guy friends were gathered around a table, laughing and cheering. I went to see what was going on, and it turned out is was a round of Quarters. No, not the shot glass type of Quarters, but another game. You have a quarter (bviously) and you spin it on its side, then stop it with the palm of your hand. If it's heads, you shoot the quarter under the person's knuckles, which are pressed on end against the table. If it's tails, they do the same to you. It leaves some nasty gashes. I agreed to play (mistake!) and ended up with two bloody hands. The next day, my left hand started swelling, so we went to the doctors and found out that I had Mersa and Staph infection in my hand. I had to get two shots and two different kinds of pills, plus three more checkups with one more shot each. Only today did the swelling start to come down. In reality, yes, I'm typing this one hand plus and index finger. Big mistake. Dirty quarters, and no proper cleaning did it in for my poor hand. At least I learned.
What have you learned from mistakes? Sometimes I think our best lessons are learned from mistakes. As long as you never do it again . . . right?