What adults should know by now

?Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.? ?Antoine de Saint-Exup?ry, author


We?re moving into county and state fair season and who?s excited? 4-Hers? Yes. Rodeo clowns? Uh huh! Deep-fat Snickers fry-cooks? Oh yeah!

Parents of kids ages 4 through 12? No. No, we?re not. We?re busy, thanks. Don?t mind us over here huddling over a calculator, trying to budget for tilt-a-whirls, funnel cakes and ring toss. Fairs are fine if you manage to keep your kids contained inside the exhibit buildings far away from the midway.

Fairs are also a signal that summer vacation is winding down. This means back to school for the young kids, pseudo freedom for the college kids and the real world for the new grads, along with the rest of us.

Well, some of the ?rest of us? have been floating out here for some time, but we manage to experience the newness right along with the rest of them. The learning never ends. Just like the reality of the fair, there are many other (very) random things that need to be known, by adults young or old, new or renewed, such as?.

n High school never ends. (One of my favorite lines from a movie, ?The Jane Austen Book Club.?) The crushes and experiences. The idiotic antics. People grow up and out of youth, but vulnerability is never buried too deep. You?re older, maybe wiser in your 20s, 30s, 40s and better, but you?re still that kid somewhere inside. Most of us have some bad behavior chalked up from all those years ago. Hopefully the idiocy has been buried deeper than the vulnerability. Remember, you can be tried as an adult now.

n You?ll see the best and worst of yourself in your kids. And I?m not talking eye color or weight. And hey, it?s your prerogative to determine which traits, bad or good, come from which side of the family. Only you know the truth. Doesn?t the truth hurt sometimes?

n First impressions might not be accurate. People have off days. They fight with their spouses and their engine lights come on. They bloat and their boss has a conniption. Their hairdressers screw up their color and their cat misses the litter box. You might catch them on their way to burying their head in a pillow. It?s not your fault, but it may not be theirs either, so don?t judge too quickly.

n Someday, somewhere, someone will put you in your place. It might be a friend. It might be a stranger. But it?ll probably be your own kid. All the lectures about being truthful and wouldn?t you know it, one day they decide to go all honest on you, making perfectly clear the action/consequence link between too many ice cream drumsticks and too few workouts. The word ?squishy? has never known such power.

n The good sausage never goes on sale. Just an observation.

n Don?t spend it all in one place. Especially when you find yourself standing in a place of instant gratification?i.e. casino, book store, gas station (albeit a necessary evil), fireworks stand (subliminal message to husband) or frozen dairy aisle (blatant message to myself).

n Some things are worth the money. See sausage, above. And sno-cones: the cheapest bribe to entice the best behavior out of your kids.

And I?m sure we all know which side of the family that comes from.

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