VIEW FROM THE HILL- Recalling some lessons learned as a kid

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN PAUL PENNER
Nostalgia is a state of mind I don’t mind visiting once in a while. The good thing about nostalgia is you can visit whenever you feel like it. It costs nothing to go there and rarely disappoints.

Except, perhaps, when one remembers a frightening episode, like a nightmare or when the cat made a mess on your bed.

I remember when adults would tell children to “act your age.” Children would add for emphasis, “Act your age, not your shoe size.” For additional effect, one’s I.Q. score would be compared to one’s shoe size.

Why that seemed appropriate back then, I have no clue. When one highlighted another’s maturity with an undisputable punch line, there was no logical defense except to become equally obnoxious.

Nowadays, one rarely hears the comment, “Act your age” from one’s peers. “Senior moments” can happen to anyone. All adults are having enough trouble keeping their I.Q. points intact.

I savor moments when my adult children admit to intermittent bouts of forgetfulness. Somehow, this makes my earlier forgetful moments while rearing them worthwhile.

Thinking back to my childhood, I learned a few things that are still good to know.

For instance, it’s never a good thing to try to baptize cats. Actually, it’s never a good thing to try to baptize any animal (or person) that does not appreciate the symbolic nature of the moment.

I even tried baptizing chickens one time. With a sibling’s help, we captured the slowest hen. In that solemn moment, we recited a short prayer and pushed the fine feathered, yet reluctant and increasingly resistant soul under the surface of the water.

The dunkers and dunkee were completely drenched. Not to mention, the water and participants smelled like chicken feathers.

My parents were photograph and movie junkies back then. They even took movies of numerous baptismal services our church held in a farmer’s pond. Every now and then, we would get out the projector and view all movies.

At one baptismal service, the person being baptized was larger than the minister. Going under the water was easy. Coming back up was another matter. After circling for an extra five seconds or more, the person emerged, unharmed by the extra time in his watery limbo.

The humor of the moment mattered most to me as a child. The theological implications of the event, not to mention the serious nature of the act itself, came later.

Another thing I learned as a child was not to trust a dog to watch your food. You may have seen the recent television ad of a dog and owner at the ice cream shop where the owner instructs the dog to sit. Nearby, a child is eating an ice cream cone and waving it in front of the dog’s nose. Sparky, or whatever his name was, was the model, obedient pet.

Yeah, right. I have yet to see that come true in all my years since childhood. Dogs do what dogs will do. They are opportunists, like all animals.

Perhaps there are trained dogs that will resist even the most tempting moments like the “ice cream cone in the nose” routine. I have to wonder where these obedient dogs live.

In that respect, I prefer to learn from my childhood experiences and keep a close watch on my food when animals roam free. At my age, however, perhaps one can find value in having a dog watch your food. The never-ending battle over weight gains and health concerns from overeating may be just the incentive to keep a canine around.

After all, one need not feel guilty about leaving food on the plate, ever again. You prepare a hearty meal for one. You eat half, or less. You tell Sparky to sit and enjoy the rest of the meal.

When dinnertime is over, Sparky needs to go out to exercise. He has the weight problem, and thus the need for exercise. As for your part in this routine, you are simply walking the dog.

Another thing I learned as a child was not to wear white pants over polka-dot underwear. It still rings true today. Every now and then, while waiting at an airport, I’ve observed adults who forgot that timeless rule.

Last summer, when shopping for extra work clothes, I picked up a pack of underwear. The outside pair was white. The rest of the pack-in my defense, hidden from view-was a mix of striped and dark colors. I did not return the opened package.

Naturally, good-natured ribbing came my way while I was getting ready for work.

“Shall I get you ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ undies the next time I go to the store?” my better half asked with a giggle.

Next time, I’ll stick with basic colors, like white.

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