Advice to My Childhood Self

(in no particular order)

 

  • If you grow up with your parents’ bedroom right next to yours, wear earplugs at night.

 

  • Avoid bragging about your Magic Rocks – no matter how colorful.

 

  • Refrain from bragging about your Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm – no matter how many tunnels the ants dug. And if you do have an art farm, be sure to follow the instructions, which include putting the live fire ants into the freezer for a short period to briefly paralyze them before inserting them into the farm. Otherwise, the fire ants will scurry in every possible direction up your hand and arm, leaving a trail of piercing bites.

 

  • Don’t wear a plastic Sea-Monkey necklace to school (a plastic, bubble aquarium hanging from a red string that you put actual live Sea-Monkeys into) (Sea “Sea-Monkey Necklace” for more details).

 

  • Avoid leaving a pair of dirty underpants in the pant leg of your jeans. Otherwise, it might work its way out throughout the course of the day, revealing itself to everyone as you come out of a bathroom with it trailing behind you in all of its white, poop-streaked glory, as one of your tormentors proclaims: “Look! His underwear is hanging out of his pants!” Before I even realized what was going on, 25 classmates (and I’m pretty sure, one teacher) were laughing at me, as my underwear trailed behind me out of a pant leg, before eventually coming to a rest on the floor. To make matters worse, I picked it up and shoved it down the front of my pants, somehow thinking that this was the only solution, as my Sea-Monkey necklace dangled from my neck.

 

  • If you are going to install a Nerf hoop in your bedroom, don’t place it above a window if you plan on dunking on it.
  • If you don’t want a man in cut-off shorts showing up at your doorstep, introducing himself as “the neighbor from behind”, don’t shoot baskets in your backyard at 4:00 a.m. while hosting a sleepover

 

  • Don’t stick your arm between two back-to-back booths at the Dairy Queen, unless you want to get it stuck, forcing them to dismount an entire booth in order to rescue your arm. This is especially embarrassing if a girl you have a crush on is sitting near by, eating with her family.

 

  • Spending summer days cooped up in your basement watching your Lionel train go around in circles while listening to Weird Al Yankovich won’t improve your social life.

 

  • Try to feign illness before having to endure the humiliation of climbing a rope in gym class, or doing chin-ups in gym class. This will prevent you from having to endure jeers and cheers from your gym teacher as your skinny legs dangle helplessly beneath you.

 

  • To avoid being picked last in gym class, refrain from standing against the wall during games of dodgeball and flinching before the ball is even thrown from the other side of the gym floor.

 

  •  When going down a waterslide, it’s always a good idea to make sure your bathing suit is fastened properly, lest it fall off and land 20 feet away from where you are left standing fully nude.

 

  • If you are removing a pan of pork chops from an oven, don’t tilt the pan in such manner that the grease oozes out on your chest, unless you want a severe burn that slowly morphs into a permanent scar.

 

  • Be sure to always be on the lookout for basketballs heaved at your head from an upper balcony. The bounce off of the skull is breathtaking. So are the stars.

 

  • Don’t wear a fanny pack. If you do, don’t refer to your fanny pack as your jet propulsion device. And even if you aren’t teased and bullied by your classmates, don’t wear a fanny pack.

 

  • Don’t boast about going to a New Kids on the Block concert. Bragging that you saw it in a suite will do you know favors, either.

 

  • Make sure you are not the only one coming to school dressed up in a Halloween costume – especially if a memo was sent home instructing parents not to dress up their kid for Halloween until after lunch.

 

  • The game “What Time is it, Mr. Fox?” is no fun when your last name is Fox. It continues to plague me even till day. And despite carrying your namesake, you will still get picked last.

 

  • Being an altar boy doesn’t exactly help you gain popularity, especially when several classmates attend your church – including a couple of crushes. Passing out while kneeling on the altar certainly doesn’t help matters.

 

  • Make sure your mother doesn’t glue fake eyebrows made out of cotton balls to your real eyebrows when you are supposed to dress up as an old man for a school assembly. Otherwise, upon removal of fake eyebrows, one of your real eyebrows might literally come off (somehow, sparing the second one). For, the majority of my first grade year, I had only one eyebrow, leading to the temporary nickname Bobby Eyebrow. It was my first nickname, but certainly not my last.

 

  • If you are going to wear sunglasses for a school concert, make sure the lenses don’t pop out in the middle of the performance for the entire audience to see. (On a semi-related note, if you are going to see Sesame Street Live when you are four- years-old, pray you don’t have to witness Cookie Monster’s eyes literally pop off of his head and go rolling across the stage).

 

  • Don’t tell your classmates that your mom works for Lifeline (from the infamous “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials). They won’t let go. In reality, my mom didn’t actually work for Lifeline. She worked at a hospital and one of her duties was to respond to Lifeline calls. Minor detail. But as far as my classmates were concerned, she worked for the company itself. And they teased me mercilessly.

 

  • It also doesn’t help if your mom is a lunch lady (which my mom was for a short while when I was in elementary school … just short enough to give me endless grief). This could lead to even more teasing than having a mom who allegedly worked for Lifeline. Sure, it’s convenient to have your mommy to run to every time you are teased … but it only leads to the nickname “Mama’s Boy.”

 

  • Don’t assume that becoming a Bugle Boy model is going to help gain popularity. It will only lead to being called Bugle Dork. It didn’t help that during this same period, all I wore were Bugle Boy clothes, which later morphed into Eddie Bauer, leading to the nickname “Eddie Bauer Man.”

 

  • It’s probably a good idea to get weaned off your training wheels before the 4th grade.

 

  • It’s probably a good idea to end your belief in Santa Claus before you reach the 6th grade.

 

  • If you have a crush on one of the most popular girls in the school, avoid writing her a note with the question: “Will you go out of with me?”, followed by two       check boxes marked “yes” and “no”. She will share said note with all of her friends, before replying back with a verbally resounding “No” as she hands your note to you. And the “no” box will not only be checked off, but highlighted. Trust me, being a “model” doesn’t help. At least not a Bugle Boy one.

 

  • Don’t tell a crush that the reason you are sticking your rotating, Ghostbusters-themed pen cap (featuring Slimer!) up your nose is because it is a breathing device.

 

  • If you are going to use a Slip ‘n Slide, be sure there are no rocks or sticks beneath it before you slide head first. It’s bad enough I did this as a kid from time to time. The same thing happened to me as an adult a few years back, slipping and sliding my balls right over a rock.

 

  • If your third grade teacher has a bathtub and bed in her classroom for silent reading purposes, opt out of the bed to avoid a lice outbreak. Or, just wait until said teacher is dismissed from employment, as she was halfway through the school year.

 

  • Don’t let your classmates see a picture of you dressed up as a cheerleader.

 

  • While playing catch with your dad, don’t catch a pop up with your nose.

 

  • Don’t put a pan that you just made popcorn in on your parents’ brand new Formica countertop.

 

  • If you are horse playing with your younger siblings, be sure you don’t slam a bedroom door on your one year-old sister’s index finger. It will flatten like a pancake, causing sheer panic for your parents, and leading to the fortunate discovery that the bones of children that young are so malleable, the bone will inflate right back to its normal shape.

 

  • Try not to let these words spoken by a 4th grade classmate discourage you: “You’re going to be the last in the class to get married”. As it turned out, I was one of the first to get married.

 

  • If you need to be pulled from your 2nd grade class for speech therapy on a weekly basis, try to arrange it so that it isn’t trumpeted to every other student in the classroom as to why you are being removed from the class. This will require therapy of a whole different order.

 

  • If you are perpetually teased and bullied by your classmates, avoid being friends with someone a.) who tells people he lays eggs and another who b.) allegedly applies Cheese Whiz to his penis, before letting his poodle go to town.

 

  • Digging holes in the dirt beneath the swing set while the rest of your peers are playing sports won’t help you gain any popularity. If other classmates joined in, referring to yourself as “First Boss” in an effort to establish your turf will also do nothing to help your cause.

 

  • For the sake of your brain and reputation, avoid having a female student slam your head against a brick wall. My head hasn’t been the same since.
  • Avoid, at all costs, the temptation to pee your pants while playing in the snow at recess. Especially early recess, when you have to spend the remainder of the day with your pants full of piss. I still remember the feeling of cold air of winter against the warm urine in my pants as though it were only yesterday. Not to mention the smell. At least I had some self-respect in regards to this incident. Rather than admitting that I pissed my pants, I spared myself the embarrassment by remaining stoic. When a classmate asked why I smelled like pee, I told them it was my mom’s new laundry detergent. It was my only defense. I realize now that it probably fooled nobody. Only myself.

 

  • If you are horseplaying with your younger siblings, be sure you don’t slam a bedroom door on your one year-old sister’s index finger. It will flatten like a pancake, causing sheer panic for your parents. As we discovered, that the bones of children that young are so malleable, the bone will inflate right back to its normal shape.

 

  • Don’t eat a bunch of lasagna and blueberries and then proceed to ride the swinging Pirate Ship ride, Graviton, and Tilt-a-Whirl. You might end up vomiting in your friend’s brand new car. If you have to vomit, be sure to do so in the toilet, not in the sink right behind the toilet. It will clog the sink. By the same token, don’t walk into your parents bedroom in the middle of the night to tell them you have to vomit, only to vomit right on their floor.

 

  • If you are reaching up to remove a pan of pork chops out of an oven, be sure not to lower the pan in such a way that hot grease will pour out and on your chest, leaving a nasty, flesh-melting wound.

 

 

 

  • Tattling on your bullies often begets more bullying, putting victims in a perpetual catch 22. I’m not suggesting that bullying shouldn’t be reported, but it can backfire, especially when not handled properly by teachers or administration. Case in point: my ears used to stick out from my head and I was frequently teased about it. In the 5th grade, one of my bullies pulled my ear very hard. It stretched like Silly-Putty. I told my teacher. The teacher talked to the student. The next day, both of my ears were pulled simultaneously. This time, I didn’t report it. And my ears were never pulled again.

 

  • If you attempt to fight back against one of your bullies, make sure you make it a direct it. Not a half-assed slap that just barely grazes the cheek of your bully, leading to more teasing from not only your bully, but everyone who witnesses it.

 

  • Truly believing that you will one day find out that all the bullying you were enduring was a joke being played on you by your classmates is a great coping mechanism to weather out the storm. I was certain that one day, my classmates would yell out “Surprise!” and all become my friend. Although this moment never came, I did eventually realize I didn’t want to have these people as friends. And despite no grand reveal, I was eventually able to look back at all of this stuff and laugh … and then write about it.

 

 

 

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