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Learning Lessons the Hard Way

Updated on November 14, 2012

Learning Lessons the Hard Way

As a child I always tried to do what was right, but, of course, I wasn't one to walk away from a dare. I did some stupid and dangerous things when I was a kid, and could only learn from what I knew were major mistakes.

When I was in middle school, I thought I was pretty great stuff. I wouldn't let anyone best me I any competition or sport, and that included roller skating. I lived in Salem, Oregon at the time. I was about 12 years old with an attitude that would shun a nun, and smart-aleck mouth that would always make my mother blush in shame. I would have a come-back for every retort. There wasn't a person alive that would ever have the last word; that includes my boyfriend.

Well, David was kind of my boyfriend— we hung out all the time, we just considered ourselves, “together.” One of the things we like to do was roller skate and there were some pretty steep hills in that part of Salem. To a daring kid like me—whose imagination always ran wild—one hill in particular would make Mt Rainier look like a mole hill. This hill was the one I was dared to go down on my death-defying roller skates. I told myself I was a complete idiot, but others had done it, so that meant I could do it too…right? Even though I was under pressure because I couldn't allow my boyfriend to think I was chicken, I kept hearing mom’s voice in my head, “…and if your friends all jumped off a bridge, would that mean you have to do it too?” Yeah, I knew exactly what an idiot I was being. My mother would be disgusted, and be shaking her head thinking I always have to learn the hard way.

It was true that I considered myself “skilled” on roller skates—only as skilled as a 12 year old can be—but fact remains I was lucky getting down that hill without killing myself. It’s funny how I didn't think about how I was going to stop before running into a car until I was at full speed. “God, I swear I will never do anything this stupid again, if You get me out of this.” The next thing I knew I was going diagonal, and not directly straight down. Just like a person on skis, I was going back and forth in a diagonal zigzag to get myself to slow down enough to feel more in control. However, I still had to learn a lesson I guess, because I just had to hit a rock big enough to stump my down cline, and fell.

My new jeans, shirt, and numerous limbs, butt and head got banged up pretty good. I was bloody, and scraped up everywhere on my body. I eventually made it to the bottom in a dramatic body roll. I’m sure it would have made headlines in the paper.

David came up running to me, “Hey! Are you alright? Can you move?”

With a great deal of embarrassment, I got up as if I wasn’t hurting in every part of my body. I laughed and said, “I’m fine! That was fun, right? Maybe we can do it again sometime!”

David looked at me and shook his head. I had no idea what he was thinking, and at the moment I didn’t care because I was walking home as soon as he took my skates off. My lip and chin was bleeding; my arm was bleeding; my head was bleeding, and my pants looked like the Hulk had just made an appearance and went back to Bruce Banner.

By the time I was walking up to the house, my mom tore open the door and just looked at me. I gave her my guiltiest grin, and she actually smiled at me without humor—which scared the heck out of me. She slowly met me in the middle of the walkway between the house and sidewalk. She said, “Are you alright, Julie?” I could tell she was angry and scared.

“Sure Mom, aren’t I always?” I was surprised when she grabbed me and hugged me for a bit, while David—the rat—told her every detail. By the time he was done she said that he could go home and thanked him for bringing me back to her. Then she non-too-gently grabbed my ear and dragged me back into the house. She took me into the bathroom and got me all cleaned up, and the whole time she was muttering to herself. I heard something about stupid teenagers, and being as stubborn as her and the rest of our family, and I knew it would not be the best time to start talking.

Later that evening, after dinner and when she finally wanted to talk to me again, she looked at me and said, “Did you learn your lesson?”

“Yes, Mom, I did, and I’m sorry.”

She nodded and continued, “Are you ever going to do something like this on a dare again, or are you going to jump off the bridge with the rest of your friends and possibly die next time? Are you going to use your stubbornness to tell them all they can go to Hell instead?”

“Mom, I’ll think a little more and try to see all the consequences first,” and again I said I was sorry.

My Mom was and still is my best friend. I heard her crying that night as I was going to bed. I scared her badly, and I heard her praying, thanking God, for bringing me home. I knew I never wanted to be the one to hurt her like that again. I never wanted to be the one to make a decision that would make her cry. I definitely learned my lesson. I love my mother and couldn’t stand to hear her so upset. I didn’t say anything, I just went into her room and got on her bed and said I was sorry again. I curled up beside her and just hugged her, telling her I would never do something like this again. She cried for such a long time, and when she was done we talked for several hours. She told me about her own stupid mistakes as a kid, and I became surprised how much alike we are; which meant that I also can be just as smart as she is and use my head to make better decisions.

I think a lot of the time; kids already hold themselves fully responsible for their own behaviors and decisions, especially when there are no parents there to stop them at the time they are doing these stupid things. Most kids already know right from wrong, and when they end up paying their consequences like either hurting themselves or others close to them, they already know just how stupid it was to do the thing wrong in the first place. I believe kids have a lot of common sense about doing things that are dumb, and sometimes the only way to learn is through the hard way.


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    • JNedele profile image

      JNedele 5 years ago from Culp Creek, OR

      That is great, Irish! Did you happen to keep a journal about all your adventures? I think sometime down the road it would be great to review those times of dare-devil acts. Not just for yourself, but for when your kids are wondering where their own behavior could be coming from. My heart catches in my throat sometimes at when my boys want to share with me what they have done. I try not to react too dramatically, because I want them to share, but I honestly know what my mom went through when I came home looking like something the cat dragged in after playing with it for a while. lol

      I still don't tell my mom everything. I want her to stick around for quite a while yet. She doesn't need to leave prematurely by having a heart attack when learning of all the stupid things I've done.

      Thanks for you comment!!!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I have to say how much I enjoy your descriptions of these all too familiar feats of bravery. You sprinkle a generous helping of wonderful humor while explaining what your fellow learn-the-hard-way (ME!) individuals can fully understand! You describe my childhood as well. There was never a dare I didn't pass up and I shamefully admit - even today when a family member or loved one hears someone dare me, they immediately start reprimanding that person, knowing all too well that there is still a small child inside who didn't quite learn the lesson yet.

      Today I am a responsible hard working adult who has learned to hide some of this behavior from my elderly Mom - who is still my best friend as well. I no longer share my skydiving hobby, white water rafting excursions and flights in an open-cockpit stunt plane. What she doesn't know won't hurt her, but it damned well may kill me LOL! I have no idea where this daredevil side comes from by my brother shares it as well.

      Great write - voting up.