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Learning the Hard Way

July 30, 2008

 

 

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode. I hope you will join me and share a Slice of your Life.

 

As I reflect on my life, I remember many times where my will to accomplish a goal far exceeded plain common sense. My maternal grandmother warned me on several occasions, “Cricket, that Myers stubbornness is going to be the death of you!” I will have to say my commitment and diligence to a project have been one of my greater strengths for much of my life. But, depending on the quest at hand, that strength can become a weakness – something I learned at a very early age.

 

I was fortunate to have Grandma Wilson in my life. She was a kind and loving grandmother. I spent the biggest part of every summer with her during school break. She was not the type of grandmother who would sit and play games as she was much too busy. Being a farmer’s wife, the chores were never done. Her mornings began before the chickens would crow. I would wake up to the aroma of fresh ground coffee perking and homemade bread coming out of the oven from the wood-burning stove. After breakfast, we would head to the barn to help with milking and feeding the animals. I didn’t mind helping with the chores. I loved all the animals, which were more like pets than farm animals. I really liked gathering eggs. It was like finding little surprises left behind when the chickens would leave their nests to go outside to eat the grain I threw on the ground. Sometimes the hens would not leave their nest, which meant there would be baby chicks soon. Of all the baby animals, I loved the baby chicks the most. It was more than just how cute and fuzzy they were that caught my attention, but more because I wasn’t allowed to hold them. I had been permitted to hold the baby pigs and pet the baby calves and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t hold the baby chicks. Telling a six year old they could not do something they really wanted to do was like lowering the green flag at the Indy 500, the race was on!

 

I was sitting under the apple tree that fateful summer day, snapping beans while grandma was in the back yard hanging clothes on the line. The mother hen and her parade of chicks came walking by, within only a few feet from where I was sitting. I watched as they walked past and noticed one baby chick was slow to keep up with the rest. When it finally walked to within a few feet of me, and I could see the mother hen was further up the yard, I tossed an end piece from the bean I was snapping to the baby chick. It immediately pecked at it, so I threw another piece, but this time having it land closer to me. The third piece of bean brought the baby chick to within a foot of me. As it was pecking at the bean, I looked to see where the mother hen was and knew this was my chance. I quickly picked up the chick and began to pet it as it began to chirp loudly. I didn’t see the mother hen. It was if she came out of no where. But I felt her! She jumped on me and began pecking me; my arms, my chest, and even my face. I began to scream and tried to get up, but the pan of beans was on my lap and I didn’t want to let go of the chick. Grandma also came out of no where. She pulled the mother hen off of me and yelled at me to put the chick down, which I did. The chick went running and grandma put the mother hen down, who went running after her chick. Just when I thought I was out of danger, I noticed grandma’s eyes. I began to wish for the mother hen to come back.

 

My grandmother was very good at holding her temper, something that took me quite a few years to master. But one would only need to look into her eyes to know when she was angry. And, she was very angry now. In a way too calm voice she said, “Cricket, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a dozen times to leave those baby chicks alone.”  With my lower lip quivering, tears streaming down my face, and in my most pathetic voice, I chose to make a bad situation worse. “But grandma, I was just sitting here and snapping the beans like you wanted me to. The baby chick came up to me. It wanted me to hold it.”

Now her eyes began to twitch. I had never seen them do that before, but my instincts told me it was not a good thing.

 

Grandma took me into the kitchen where she washed my scraps with soap and water, then dotted red ointment on each of the peck marks, never saying a word as she nursed my wounds. Her silent treatment was making me nervous. When she finished, I went to the sink to look into grandpa’s mirror he kept there for shaving. I began to laugh at the small red dots on my face and thought I could get grandma in a better mood by saying, “Look grandma, I have chicken pox!” Grandma didn’t laugh. Instead, she told me to come over to the table and sit down.

 

“Cricket, I am not going to punish you for holding the baby chick, even though I have told you many times not to pick them up. I think the mother hen has taught you better than I why you should leave the babies alone. I am very unhappy with you, not only because you disobeyed me, but also because you lied about disobeying me. And, you did lie, didn’t you?”

 

For the second time that day, I saw a look in grandma’s eyes I had never seen before. This time it was not anger. It was a look of disappointment in me. A look I never wanted to see again. I confessed to how I coaxed the baby chick to come closer to me with the beans and I said I was sorry for lying about it. My punishment for lying was getting my mouth washed out with soap, which was basically holding a wet bar of homemade soap in my mouth for a few seconds, just long enough to get a good taste of it. After helping me rinse the soap out of my mouth, grandma explained, “Cricket, when you tell a lie to cover up something you have done wrong, you just make the whole matter worse. I made you put that nasty soap in your mouth because I wanted you to remember the next time you think about lying to me that telling a lie will leave a nasty taste in your mouth and it will leave a nasty taste on my heart.” I never lied to my grandma again.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2008 9:32 am

    what a great story!
    I didn’t mind the taste of palmolive bar soap…remember that? LOL
    you get use to it after awhile…I never had that ‘one time’…I was a mouthy kid…LOL
    I would have went for the chick too! Your grandma sounds like a very a loving woman. You were really blessed to have her!

  2. August 1, 2008 3:00 am

    Awww, Cricket, I would’ve been tempted to pick up one of those chicks too. They are so adorable. This was such a wonderful story – it took me back to a similar time in my childhood. Thank you for sharing it!

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