Tag Archives: Lessons Learned

When Your Kid Is Smarter Than You Are

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Many summers ago, our family went to a local art festival, and while I visited another booth, my son found a turquoise and green glass pendant and, though he only had eight dollars in his pocket, he convinced the vendor to sell it to him.

We coined the piece of jewelry my “compliment necklace” because every time I wore it, I received kind words from strangers who gushed over the glass that glowed in the sun.

I loved my necklace like nobody’s business, and I wore it every day.

Recently, while we were vacationing in Florida, the glass pendant slipped off its silver chain and smashed on the bathroom tile.

Screen shot 2013-04-14 at 9.47.15 PM

“NoooOooooo!” I wailed, falling to my knees. “NoOoo! No! NoooOooo!”

Carrying the jagged shards in my open palm, I showed the pieces to my son who happened to be sitting in his brand new rocking chair, reading a book, and eating a slice of pie.

Standing, my boy put one hand on my shoulder. He’s taller than I am now, so he looked down at me a little. Stepping aside, he pointed to his new rocker, not 24-hours old.

“Come. Sit down. Have a little pie. You’ll feel better.” He offered me his plate.

I shook my head. Because I didn’t want any pie.

I wanted my glass pendant back.

“You bought it for me when you were 7,” I complained. “Every time I wore it, I thought of you.”

My son settled back down in his rocking chair. “If we didn’t lose people and things we love, we wouldn’t know how important they are to us.” My son shoveled some pie into his mouth and pointed to his chest. “Anyway, you don’t need a necklace to think of me. I’m right here.”

At home, TechSupport doesn’t let me tuck him into bed anymore. But, the night my pendant smashed, my son let me cuddle with him for a few minutes. As I stroked his spiky crew cut, I saw a silver thread in his hair.

I tried to pick it out, but it was attached.

Turns out, my 13-year-old has a gray hair.

My husband and I have said our son is an old soul. To us, he’s always possessed the understanding, empathy, and kindness of someone with more life experience.

As a youngster he always shared his toys. He was comfortable with rules, and sometimes, as I explained things to him, he eyed me suspiciously, as if to say: Of course we don’t write on walls, or touch hot pots on the stove, or stick fingers in electrical sockets. Of course, we don’t bite our friends. Or push them. Duh.

Over the years, I’ve complained when he’s been overlooked for awards. It kills me each Friday when his middle school publishes its list of “Great Kids of the Week,” and his name never makes the list. Meanwhile, he doesn’t care. He tells me he doesn’t need his name announced over the loudspeaker or his picture posted in the hallway. He knows about his good deeds, and that’s enough. A stellar student, he doesn’t like me to mention his grades. When he was bullied in elementary school, he refused to retaliate. Even when his father and I gave him permission to kick the bastard who was bugging him in his cahones, our son told us he believed in nonviolence. Like Gandhi. How did he even know about Gandhi in 5th grade? Though middle school can be an unhappy time as teens jockey for popularity, Tech has maintained a core group of smart, kind people who are loyal to each other.

Our son has never been interested in material things.

He has simple requests.

A bed.

A book.

A rocking chair.

A slice of pie.

That one single silver strand of hair on his head confirmed it for me: proof positive that my kid is an old soul — unusually understanding, wise and empathetic beyond his years.

Don’t get me wrong: he’s a teenager, too. He eats constantly, hates putting away his laundry, and making his bed. He laughs at dumb YouTube videos and would play Minecraft all day, if we let him.

But he knows how to talk me down when ants are crawling across the kitchen floor. Or tonight, while I held my stomach as I listened to the news, crammed with voices, the President talking about justice and violence and terror — again.

This is the world I brought you into, my son. A world where things are always breaking. And nothing is solid.

But he has the right words. Reminds me that most people are good people. That G-d hears prayers and love transcends zip codes and time zones.

“Kinda makes you realize your necklace wasn’t such a big deal,” he said.

What will I ever do without him?

Have you ever lost a sentimental something? Do you put on a strong front for your children? Or do you let them see you cry?

tweet me @rasjacobson

6 Lessons From A Lemonade Stand: A Guest Post by Diana Sabloff

Click here to see the main schedule!

This piece is special because it is written by my cousin, Diana Sabloff. If you ask me, nothing screams summer like an end-of-the-driveway lemonade stand. In fact, we have an unspoken rule in our family that we must never drive past a homemade lemonade stand that is 100% maintained by kids. If parents are there, we can ease on down the road, but if I see kids out there in the world, with banners and pitchers, wearing grins on their faces and hearts on their sleeves… well, if you ask me, it’s positively un-American to zoom by. Even if the lemonade is crappy, the idea is awesome: gotta love those little entrepreneurs.

And Diana’s hot day at the garage sale/lemonade stand gleaned many lessons. Thanks, Diana, for being a great guest blogger!

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Lessons From a Lemonade Stand

I was selfish. I wanted my garage back. Or at least a path through it. It had been packed from the cement floor to the ceiling rafters with boxes-o-stuff for a long time, but when I couldn’t get to the tools and my kids couldn’t get to their toy box, I knew the time had come.

Moving the boxes from out of the garage and onto the driveway was like transferring Mount Everest one pebble at a time.

By 8 am, I was filthy and sweaty.

Like really sweaty.

And hot.

And not just a little hot.

We live in the northeast, so I had worried about rain. It had never occurred to me that the day of our yard sale would turn out to be a triple-digit record breaker. Truly, it was a most awful trifecta: hazy, hot and humid.

My stepson suggested the kids set up a lemonade stand, and we all thought that was a brilliant idea.

• Lemonade mixed? Check.
• Plastic cups? Check.
• Sign made? Check.
• Table set up? Check.

image from Yellow Sky Photography from flickr.com

And then the people started coming.

Who knew our collective junk was treasure in disguise?

And then, right as I was trying to sell a green leathery-vinyl recliner, my 6-year old daughter came marching up the driveway.

I quit! she yelled.

I smiled at the potential buyer who was ready to shell out $5 bucks for the recliner and asked my daughter what was wrong. She said that her father and brother weren’t being fair; they wanted to raise the price of the lemonade from 25-cents to 50-cents, and she didn’t want to.

I quickly sealed the deal for the chair and, feeling pretty proud of myself, I figured I could negotiate a truce between the munchkins.

I went down to talk to Boy Munchkin, who informed me that 25-cents was too cheap and he could make twice as much money selling it for 50-cents. (When did he become Alex P Keaton?). My husband had agreed and already put up the new sign. My daughter insisted that was too much, and held up the bag of money they had already made.

I suddenly felt very inadequate with my $5 sale.

I said 25-cents seemed fair. My daughter beamed while my son spun on his heel and said he was quitting.

Realizing a truce was futile, I went in the house, got a second pitcher of lemonade, a second poster board, and a second table.

I announced that the partnership was being dissolved, and they each were responsible for selling their own lemonade, and the profits up until that point would be split 50-50, unless someone walked away, in which case the person who kept working would keep all the money.

Lesson #1: Go into business with family members at your own risk.

Boy Munchkin displayed remarkable business sense for an 8-year old: “What price is she selling at?”

Girl Munchkin was pleased with the new arrangement. She put on her biggest smile and shouted: “GETCHER LEMONADE HERE: 25-CENTS!”

Boy Munchkin shouted, “That’s not fair! No one will buy from me if they can get it from her for 25-cents!”

He stormed off after I helpfully tried to explain the workings of a free market.

Lesson #2: Be aware of your price point — and your competitor’s.

The woman who bought the chair offered to buy a cup of lemonade from Munchkinette – for 50-cents. How nice, I thought. Because the lemonade pitcher was heavy, I helped my daughter to pour.

“Mom!” my daughter shrieked, “That’s too much! Stop! You should only fill it half-way!”

Baffled, I asked, “Why should the cup only be filled half-way? Especially when this nice lady is hot and paying double for your lemonade?”

Munchkinette replied, “Because half is all she needs!”

The nice lady gave me the “Oh-I’m-really-sorry-and-I–really-need-to-leave” look. She drank her ½ cup and threw her empty into the garbage can. Munchkinette looked up at me defiantly and said, “See, I told you. Half is all they need.”

Lesson #3: Find your differentiation strategy, and make it work.

As high noon approached, deals were being made in every corner of our yard. The kids went inside for a break, leaving their older brother and his girlfriend in charge of the lemonade stands.

During this time, not one glass of lemonade was sold.

Not. One. Drop.

Lesson #4: Be careful whom you trust to run your business so they don’t run it into the ground.

After lunch, Munchkin decided to employ a new tactic for selling lemonade. He offered delivery for an extra 50-cents. His older brother asked for a cup to be delivered to the front lawn. After 10 minutes, the lemonade never arrived, so my older son bought from Munchkinette.

Lesson #5: Check your distribution channel to make sure deliveries come on time. Or else you’ll lose business to your competitors.

Undeterred, Munchkin modified his tactics and employed his older brother to deliver the lemonade to shoppers up and down the driveway and to the front lawn. This lasted under 10 minutes, as my stepson got a bite on some of his items and that were for sale and disappeared. Munchkin pulled a Trump and fired his brother for failure to perform the requisite duties as an employee.

Lesson #6: It’s hard to find good help.

At 4 pm, we packed it in. Leftover items were bagged and ready for donation.

We tallied the profits and admired the beautiful, empty space in the garage!

Amazingly, the kids’ lemonade stand netted $40, one quarter at a time!

Munchkinette looked over at her brother who was still upset about forfeiting all the partnership proceeds when he had stopped working earlier in the day and immediately decided to give him all their partnership money, saying she just wanted to keep what she made on her own.

Munchkin hugged his sister, and they both walked away — together, happily — with about $20 in coins.


What’s the best item you ever found (or unloaded) at a garage sale? What have you learned from garage sales? And what are your policies about lemonade stands?

Words Worth Spreading: A #LessonLearned by Julie Davidoski

How cute is this girl?

When I think of Julie Davidoski, I think of chipmunks, side-ponytails and slap-bracelets. You heard me. This girl is single-handedly trying to revive that fashion craze. And she’s actually doing a pretty good job of it.

Julie has a happy-go-lucky blog where she (generally) writes about happy topics that make people smile. I feel honored to have her here today so we can see another side to our spunky girl: the introspective Julie.

For lots of happiness and a side-order of Smurfs, check out Go Guilty Pleasures. Friend her on Facebook and Twitterstalk her at @Julie_Davidoski.

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Click on the teacher lady's bum to read other posts in this series!

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Words Worth Spreading

You might think this post is going to be about the day I realized real love is better than endlessly staring at posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or the time I almost needed stitches because of an unfortunate incident involving an unusually sharp shower faucet. Well, no. I still idolize actors and I still reach for the soap with abandon. I’ve got a lot to learn.

There is one lesson that seems to have stuck, though.

In 1999, I was 17 years old. I had recently earned my GED and was overcoming a history of panic attacks and a “mild” eating disorder (talk about NOT living up to that Prince song). I saw a wonderful therapist and felt heard, but I had one setback: I couldn’t stop myself from snooping through my mom’s email account, eager to catch a glimpse of my own name. It seemed like a no-brainer; she never signed out of Yahoo! (I’m not sure she knew how).

“Be careful what you wish for,” could easily be the lesson learned here, because surely it didn’t take long before “Julie” graced more than one of my mom’s emails. The email I remember best was to her friend, and the focus was on my weight, which was increasing at the time. The tone was disappointment. I cried. How was I going to stop obsessing over the numbers on the scale if she couldn’t?

For weeks I kept reading. I can only remember my name being associated with a number and nothing else. I knew my mom loved me unconditionally, so why did there seem to be a condition? As I read, I thought about all of the things my childhood girlfriends would say behind my back. I knew they’d all rather hang out with the other girls than me. I remembered the 8th grade schoolmates who said my crush, a geeky boy with a feminine side, might go out with me at the end of the summer – if he was desperate enough.

Then I realized something.

My mom had probably always talked about me. She would probably always talk about me. And there was nothing I could do about it.

Except there was.

My therapist didn’t bother masking her surprise when I shared that I’d stopped reading my mom’s emails.

“What made you stop?” she asked.

“I just realized I don’t want to know,” I replied simply.

She raised her eyebrows and jotted something on her notepad. “That is incredible progress.”

Her sincere praise made me realize, for the first time, that this might be a significant turning point in my life.

Now I know it was.

Not long ago, a co-worker blurted,  “You should hear what Lucy said about you when we were friends.” My response? “You know what? Please don’t tell me. I’ve been down that road, and nothing good can come of it.” I know she was not only taken aback, but also disappointed. She tried to tell me repeatedly, and I continually turned her down.

I get it. It’s like picking a scab.

But I don’t need any more scars.

Don’t get me wrong. I like sarcasm, juicy gossip and all Perez Hilton has to offer, but I never, ever want to make others feel the way I once did.

For the last twelve years, I have avoided seeking negative opinions, and have done my very best to refrain from spreading others’ harsh words**.

Positivity is a powerful thing, and as strongly as I believe in keeping negative words to myself, so strongly do I believe in spreading upbeat ones.

I think it’s working, because my family’s doing really well in the compliments department lately.

And by the way, you are looking so hot right now! Is that a new shirt?

**In other words, I’m the world’s best secret-keeper, so you should totally email me and tell me everything.

How are you when it comes to self-restraint when it comes to talking about other people?

Thanks For Reaming Me Out: A #LessonLearned by Ermine Cunningham

Ermigal with some of her former students

Odds and Ends from Ermigal is a fabulous blog. A recently retired English as a Second Language teacher, Ermine Cunningham’s favorite years were teaching students from all over the world. (See them up there?)

One of the things that I love best about Erm’s blog is that she writes about everything and anything under the bed. You didn’t see that coming, did you? Well, that’s what it’s like at Ermine’s. One minute we are talking about salsa lessons and the next thing we know, she admits “Herman Cain Made a Pass At Me, Too.

If you like a good surprise, you will love Ermigal.

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Click on the teacher lady's nose to see other writers who have posted about lessons learned as well as the schedule for who is coming up!

Dear Miss Brown: Thanks for Reaming Me Out

As a greenhorn seventh grader trying to maneuver my way around the unfamiliar world of Junior High School, I was introduced to the new concept of “Slam Books” in Miss Brown‘s homeroom one morning: a spiral notebook with names of kids written at the top that was passed around surreptitiously for anonymous comments — positive or negative — a prehistoric version of internet bullying or sucking up, take your pick.

Eagerly, I became the first taker on a brand new Slam Book in Miss Brown’s homeroom and tried to be clever and cool with my entries. My summer growth spurt made me taller than most of the boys in my class, and I’d been spotted wearing an undershirt in the locker room after gym, as my mother pooh-poohed wearing a bra until I “needed one”. Stationed at my vantage point on the fringes of acceptance, I took a stab at being popular; carefully dressed and wearing a bra I’d purchased at K-Mart, I wanted to fit in.

On the page with “Ginny Bloss” written at the top, I had written, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

I passed the book along and went to my locker before the bell rang to switch classes.

I was on my knees digging in my locker when my teacher faced me, her large green eyes blazing. “Did you write this?” she demanded, pointing to the page with Ginny’s name.

I remember this classmate as small and quiet in class–definitely not one of the “popular” kids. I’d figured out that some kids were cheerleaders or student council material, definitely the ones whose group I wanted to be in. Ginny was not anywhere near being a part of this select bunch; she even paid attention in Mr. Foster’s science class while a group of us fooled around and passed notes.

“Yes,” I whispered. My stomach churned with a feeling of impending doom.

Miss Brown proceeded to go up one side of me and down the other. I distinctly remember when she asked me furiously:

“Who do you think you are?”

That feeling of shame and regret, along with those words, have stuck with me. To this day, that moment in the hall influences how I view other people; on that long ago morning, I learned — in a most basic way — that we are all equal and worthy of respect.

It didn’t hurt that my parents reinforced this trait in me also, but Miss Brown brought it home in a way a thirteen year old could learn from if she chose to do so. My life has been, I hope, a reflection of what I learned that day.

Thanks, Miss Brown.

Have you ever had a “public shame” moment? What did you do? How was it handled? What did you learn?

#LessonsLearned: Guest Posts for 2012

This year, I asked people to write about Lessons Learned.

And I wasn’t talking about lessons that you learned in school.

Although you might have learned them in school.

I mean people learn lots of things in school.

But preferably not.

Because we did that.

You could share a lesson that you have learned that has stayed with you. Like:

Always nap when you go to the movies with your kids. The flick is going to suck anyway, so just make the most of that eight-bajillion-dollar ticket.

Sneaking out at overnight camp to meet your boyfriend is fun, but make sure he walks you back to your cabin. Otherwise, it’s just you, the raccoons, the bats, and your shame. And no matter what they say, even if you follow the treeline, you will walk into a lot of trees.

It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it has to be honest.

If you think you have writing chops, I would love to read your words.

Posts should be between 500 and 700 words.

Short is better.

You can find my email address HERE. 

Image via Tech Support


Leanne Shirtliffe • January 6, 2012 • Ironic Mom“Why Teachers Need to Laugh” @lshirtliffe

Deb Bryan • January 13, 2012 • The Monster in your ClosetLessons From a Tiger Teacher” – @deb_bryan

KD Sullivan • January 20, 2012 • Journey Towards Epiphany“The Under-Appreciated Mr. R.” @kdsullivan

Ricky Anderson • January 27, 2012 • Ricky Anderson“The Way Mrs. Wheeler Rolled” @Arthur2Sheds

Wayne Borean • February 3, 2012 • About Writing “Opting In” @WayneBorean

Franky Jebb • February 10, 2012  “The 8-year Old Chimney Sweep”

Ermine Cunningham • February 17 , 2012 • Odds & Ends From Ermigal“Dear Miss Brown: Thanks For Reaming Me Out”

Christian Emmett • February 24, 2012 •  Open to Adventure “Lessons From Music to Life” @ChristianEmmett

Chrystal H. • March 2, 2012 • The Spirit Within“The Horror of Public Speaking”@gumballgirl64

Nina Badzin • March 9, 2012 • Nina Badzin’s BlogAcquaintance is not a Dirty Word @NinaBadzin

Marilyn Gardner  • March 16, 2012 • Communicating Across Boundaries“When The Teacher Doesn’t ‘Get’ Your Kid”@marilyngard

Galit Breen • March 23, 2012 • These Little Waves“Savor Every Word” @GalitBreen

Alexandra Rosas • March 30, 2012 • Good Day, Regular People  • “I Knew It My Heart”@GDRPempress

Jamie Golden • April 13, 2012 • Jamie’s Rabbits“So You Think You’re Smart” @JamiesRabbits

Julie Davidoski • April 20, 2012 • Go Guilty Pleasures“Words Worth Spreading”@Julie_Davidoski

Dawn Sticklen • April 27, 2012 • Since You Asked Dawn“Ode to Sweet Jimmy” @JoMoBlogger

El Farris • May 4, 2012 • Running From Hell From El“Running on Empty” @runningfromhell

David N. Walker • May 11, 2012 • David’s Thoughts and Ideas“Motorhome Mayhem” @davidnwalkertx

Iris Zimmerman • May 18, 2012 • Rochester Fencing Club“Failure is an Option” – @rocfencing

Ellie Ann Soderstrom • May 25 • Navigating Through The Week“Lessons From a Disney Princess” @elliesoderstrom

Shannon Pruitt • June 1 • My New Favorite Day • “Leaving My Safety Net” • @newfavoriteday

Katie Sluiter • June 8, 2012 • Sluiter Nation“Falling Down” @ksluiter

Darlene Steelman • June 15, 2012 • Living Sober – Life at Full Throttle  “Calculated Chances” @darlenesteelman

Christine Wolf • June 22, 2012 • Riding the Waves & My Life Afloat“To The Slow Readers” • @tinywolf1

Diana Sabloff • June 29, 2012 • “Lessons From a Lemonade Stand” @DianaSabloff

Amy Young • July 6 • The Messy Middle “Taste My Enthusiasm” @amyinbj