Education ain't what it used to be

By Darlene Warren

Education is a funny thing. We spend our entire youth trying to gain it and the rest of our life trying to learn how to make it applicable in our constantly changing curriculum. I guess that is the basis for the adage about education being a lifelong process. Our well-learned answers don't match up with our newfound questions.

The textbooks from which you and I gained our formative education are not in print anymore. Even if they were, upon graduation you realize that in real life most solutions to problems can't be found in a MacGraw Hill.

You quickly learn that your physical surroundings and circumstances are subject to change, and likely will, with or without your permission. Speaking of "with or without your permission," if you have teenagers in your home, remember there is an afterlife. I offer my testimonial for all who would welcome some encouraging news. Let me throw in a few tidbits I've found to be helpful over the years.

First of all, accept that God created teenagers to try our spirits; to strengthen our resolve; to toughen our fortitude for the trials that lie before us. They are put on this earth to embarrass us in as many ways as possible.

They have only a few short years in which to accomplish their God-given responsibilities, so that accounts for the relentless full-scale assault upon the family's serenity. I firmly believe Jesus blessed the little children for a specific reason: He knew without His blessing many of them would be in jeopardy of something just short of bodily harm-most likely from the hands of their own parents.

(The Mideastern culture adheres to a strict interpretation of the law, and, Omnipotent Being that He is, God saw a grave need to intervene in their future well-being.)

An essential part of our education is learning how to interact with our own families' growing and changing dynamics. Let's say, for instance, little Suzy finally brings someone home you could actually accept as part of the family (and she will). How will you react?

Invite him to stay for dinner? Pull your daughter aside and tell her how wonderful you think the young man is? Bad decision. Be polite, but remain aloof. If you really want to encourage the relationship, it's best to feign indifference and stay emotionally detached. Otherwise, if she detects even the slightest sign of approval from you, the young man will mysteriously vanish without a trace to wherever the "good ones" go. Another victim of the "catch and release program."

Little Joey, on the other hand, is different. If you don't like one of his girlfriends, there's not much you can say or do to change the situation. Boys certainly don't embarrass easily, this coming as a result of a characteristic passed down through a dominant male gene.

Even though you may have difficulty understanding the initial attraction between the two, don't do anything drastic just yet. Some of my most treasured knickknacks have come from young ladies trying to give the right "first impression." You wouldn't want to miss out on all those scented candles and candy tins.

Besides, some girls can be downright tenacious (I know I was), and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to offend a future daughter-in-law this early in the game.

My final word of advice concerning teenagers: Go with your gut reaction when dealing with them. Don't feel sorry for them when you feel you must take disciplinary action. They will rebound. They have ways of balancing out every wrong ever executed against them, whether real or imagined. Some have memories that rival those of Confederate widows.

Step away from the broom

Another lesson I've learned about human relationships is never to trust a man who cleans up after himself. If he attempts to sabotage your sanity in this small way, what other forms of mind manipulation could be lurking in your future?

My advice to you is never turn your back on a man who willingly takes his turn at the kitchen sink. I think if we look closely enough there is probably an example in early church history where such behavior was a confirmation of demon possession. Didn't we learn anything from Stepford Wives?

Of course, certain household chores are christened as macho. Take, for instance, outdoor grilling. The celebratory event begins when the woman marinates 20 pounds of meat for two days, readies the grill by scraping and cleaning it with a high-pressure hose and a tool that closely resembles a paint scraper, soaks the charcoal with lighter fluid and then turns the process over to her husband to do the hard part.

The hard part includes passing his hand over the coals to determine the precise moment when the coals are ready to receive the virgin meat. It's considered a macho production because it involves matches, flammable material, raw meat, other men and beer.

Save our local shamans

Of course, this story wouldn't be complete without mentioning the part preachers have to play in our educational process. Where would we be today without the direction our local shamans gave us as young kids ourselves? I'm sure I would have wound up on the streets had I not been forewarned of the evils of makeup and short skirts.

I will be forever grateful for the knowledge that front-zipped pants on girls led to immorality and that bell-bottoms were a sign of rebellion.

I thank God every day I got my bad attitude straightened out and can live with the certainty that I am no longer teetering on the brink of the lake of fire.

Shamans have a special, almost magical gift of translation I can only dream of attaining. As far as I know, it can't be learned from any book.

Education is a funny thing.

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