Tag Archives: childhood

Because I Said So!

When I was a kid, when dealing with grown-ups, there was nothing that exasperated me more than to be told “because I said so!”

As an inquisitive child, trying to understand the world, I think I had a pretty good sense of cause and effect. When I asked “Why?” it wasn’t to challenge authority, it was simply to connect the dots to understand the motivation behind the grown-up’s answer to the preceding question.

I also think it was a disservice to shut down conversations in this way and deprive me of the opportunity to develop valuable negotiation skills and propose counteroffers such as “I’ll go rake the leaves just as soon as (insert TV show name) is over.”

On a personal level, when a conversation ended with “because I said so!” I sometimes felt hurt. I worked hard for the acceptance of grown-ups, and to not provide any elaboration seemed to discredit those efforts even though I am certain that there were times that “because I said so!” had nothing to do with me, but rather, other related circumstances. But that wasn’t always conveyed.

I vividly remember vowing that when I grew up, I would never shut down conversations with “because I said so!” To this day, I am pretty sure that I kept to my vow, but I know that there have been times I went too far the other way.

As I grew up, I developed a reflex for not only explaining an answer, but over-explaining. I partly blame the math teachers who always insisted on “showing your work”… Careful what you wish for!

I admit that as my reasoning and communication skills developed, my reasons may not have been air-tight, but hey, it was a process like everything in life. Continue reading

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The Rewards of Vending Machines

vending-machinesOn a recent visit to the mall, I noticed a little girl was carefully perusing the contents of the row of gum ball and toy vending machines, with the same intensity I demonstrated when I was shopping for new appliances. She was contorting herself around the machines, checking out all of the contents and trying to predict which items were to come out next.

I understood that this was a major purchase and she was looking for the best value for her hard earned allowance money. That was me 40+ years ago!

After much scrutiny and analysis, she pointed to a machine, put in her coin, turned the crank, opened the plastic bubble and voilà! Pure joy and a huge smile! I could only assume that she got what she was looking for as she was visibly delighted with her prize.

I was reminded of my own childhood and my borderline addiction to those machines. I remember my sock drawer was proudly filled with little gum-ball-machine toys I had collected from trips to the grocery store or the department store.

I don’t think my experience was all that unusual though. With those machines at eye level for a kid, it was so easy to beg parents and relatives for coins, to get something I “positively need, and promise I won’t ask for anything again”… until the next visit.

But what is it about those machines that ignites our curiosity? If common sense prevails, one would think that being able to hold, feel and inspect a product up close to make an informed decision would the more balanced way to go. However the separation of human and product by a plastic window seems to appeal to our sense of adventure.

Or is it because we have become the product of our own life-long Pavlovian experiment since a very young age: put in a coin, get a treat? Continue reading

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How Am I Klutzy, Let Me Count the Ways

Emergency SignI wouldn’t consider myself accident-prone, but the contents of my medicine cabinet and bathroom vanity seem to tell a different story. The generous supply of adhesive bandages, support bandages, patches, gauze, antiseptics, antibiotic creams, ointments, drops and analgesics are evidence that this household is relatively well-prepared for when slapstick and life collide.

I have been very fortunate in that I have never broken a bone, but when it comes to bumps, sprains, scrapes and very minor accidents, I have experienced more than my fair share. Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall shareholders, you are welcome!

I take inspiration from Elizabeth Barrett Browning when I ask: “How am I klutzy? Let me count the ways…”

– When I was very young, I was fascinated with automatic opening doors. When I was 4, I was “testing” the doors at a nearby mall and unfortunately missed my cue and crashed into a closing door.

– I am told that at a school concert in kindergarten, where I played the conductor at our school band’s brilliant rendition of “Pop Goes the Weasel” apparently I fell off my podium in rehearsals. I have no recollection of this incident and will continue to deny it, but without video evidence, I admit that anything is possible.

– When I was 8 or 9, I remember a wobbly tooth that wouldn’t come out. Dad suggested I tie dental floss around it and attach the other end to a door, and to close it. I was never a master of physics, but I probably should have asked someone to check my work before proceeding with the experiment. When I slammed the door, the tooth didn’t come out… and the door bounced back into my face causing a bloody nose. Continue reading

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