March 10, 2005

Old time Country Lessons

It's no secret I am thirty-seven years old.

When I was a kid, the only cartoons we ever really got to watch were on Saturday mornings. If we got up very early on school days, we occasionally watched a quick cartoon or two after the national anthem played when programming returned from its night time hiatus. In fact, now that I think about, we actually had to get up, walk across the room to change to one of the three channels we had or alter the volume. I was the remote control.

As I grew a little older, there were after school specials on television here and there. On Sunday nights we had The Wonderful World of Disney. All in all, that was still a good bit of television, but I cannot say that I learned a great deal from watching.

Some of the most important lessons I learned were not from TV or school, but from my own house and backyard.

For instance, I learned a good bit about public speaking. If I ever said "I'm bored" out loud, my parents quickly found something to occupy my time. I had to pull weeds out of the garden, shovel horse and cow manure into a wheel barrow and transport it from point A to point B, or wash my father's truck or boat or even the outside of the house. Further, the dreaded "talking back" was a form of public speaking that quickly introduced me to the wrong end of a belt.

Civics and geography were topics my sister and I learned early on. I came to this country at the ripe old age of three. Prior to that, I had traveled with my parents to no less than forty-two different countries because of my father's work. No matter where in the world we literally were, at no point in my childhood did I ever live in a democracy. As long as I was under the jurisdiction, dominion, and control of my sovereign father, I lived in an autocracy that for years my young mind thought bordered on tyranny.

The economic doctrine of supply and demand, as well as the fickleness of the market were taught at the pond. If I dug up a ton of worms and only managed to catch one or two crickets, the fish market would scoff at the worms and go nuts over the crickets. Likewise, if I happened upon the mother lode of crickets and had three worms, the fish, of course, could not get enough of the worms. Other pond lessons included the food chain. Apparently my place on the food hierarchy was well after the fish, dogs, and livestock because they all had to be fed before me.

Some of the simple laws of physics, gravity, and inertia were examined most often in and around the barn. No matter how hard or fast one flapped, kids cannot fly, even with a running start from the back of the hay loft. When one wished to swing from ropes from one tree to another, it was extremely important to tie the ropes to the tree LIMBS, not around the trees themselves. Lastly, the south end of livestock was generally inert, unless I happened to be the one standing there.

English, diction, and enunciation were lessons learned primarily when my father was around. Merely saying the words: "yes, sir" and "no, sir" was not enough, one must not mumble or slur. One must also remember that "yes, sir" and "no, sir" were neither acceptable nor appropriate when accompanied by a smirk, rolling of the eyes or anything other than a submissive tone. Trust me on this one, folks.

With all the kids' programming and 24 hour a day cartoon channels that abound these days, I think our children are missing out on a lot "schoolin'."

Posted by Christina at March 10, 2005 11:00 PM

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