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Sudie Crouch: Lessons from childhood activities last a lifetime
Sudie Crouch

Sometimes, I am amazed I made it through my childhood without any broken bones. 

Maybe it was because my clumsy and awkward self was well padded with a layer of chubbiness to cushion the falls. 

I desperately wanted to take ballet, longing to be lithe and graceful. 

Mama, always eager to crush any dreams that didn’t involve law school even at an early age, reminded me I was doing good to balance on my feet, let alone my toes. She also mentioned something about gravity and how it was not my friend. 

I moved on to music, something my poor piano teacher had to suffer through for eight years until I realized I had zero talent. I’m sure she realized it after the third lesson.

But in between the ballet and the piano, I thought I was going to be a basketball player. 

I talked about it and talked about it — my then barely 5-foot self was going to be a female basketball star. 

Until my grandfather put a basketball hoop up above my playhouse. 

“What’s that?” I asked. 

“Your hoop,” he stated matter-of-factly. And out of nowhere, he tossed me a ball. 

“Have fun, Lil’Un.”

It was not fun though. Usually, the ball would bounce back and hit me in the face. 

Mama didn’t want me to be on any kind of team — nope, that meant I’d have to go to away games and Mama was not having that. She truly had nothing to worry about however.

But Mama has always had that annoying trait that made her think if I started something, I needed to finish it, or at the very least, try until I was exhausted. She wanted to instill some follow through in me, and if I was going to quit, I needed to form an educated decision as to why I wasn’t going to do it, like proving I was a hopeless cause. 

“I am horrible at basketball,” I whined. Mama couldn’t argue that point.  

“I need something though,” I declared. 

“Like what?” she asked. 

Problem was, I didn’t know. 

I wanted to do something new and had some crazy notion it shouldn’t involve reading a book as an added change. 

So, what did my family do? They went and got me a pogo stick. 

A death weapon on springs for an awkward, clumsy, chubby kid. 

Child Protective Services apparently let kids get on these things and bounce around the yard on them, just as readily as they let us fling ourselves off of trampolines without nets in the ’80s. 

I was terrified of the thing. 

“Try it out,” my grandfather encouraged. 

“I don’t know how it works,” I said. 

“It’s easy,” he said. “Just hop on it and hold on.” 

I wasn’t so sure about this. Keep in mind, I was as round as I was tall. My uncle decided to hop on to give me a demonstration. 

It looked easy enough, or at least my uncle made it look easy. He po’ed and go’ed around the back yard effortlessly.  I got on and off I went, into the grass and dirt. 

“Try it again,” my grandfather encouraged. 

“I think I am done,” I said, brushing pebbles off my knee. 

“You’ve only done it once,” he said. “You haven’t done it enough to know whether you’re done or not.” 

So, I tried it about four more times. 

Each attempt had the same result, with me ending up in the grass. 

It could have been worse if I had actually tried to pogo around the yard. This was just me putting my feet on the pedals and then promptly falling over because I could not balance. 

My foray into the world of being a pogo athlete, if that’s such a thing, taught me some valuable lessons. 

When you fall, you get back up. 

Failing at something doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you aren’t good at that particular thing. 

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

We can’t all be good at the same things. We can’t all be the star; we can’t all be the one that makes the big win or is the top dog. 

A lot of people don’t learn from the winning either. It’s from failing — and sometimes hard — that we learn the most grace and how to make it in life.  

I also learned that apparently men don’t factor safety into buying toys for kids. 

When my grandmother and mother found out about the pogo stick, they both had individual and combined hissie fits. 

“What in the devil were you thinking?” seemed to be the resounding question they both asked. 

“Do you even know your grandchild at all?” was the next question, followed by comments about how I often fell down the back doorsteps at least twice a week and wasn’t there a weight limit on pogo sticks. 

My grandfather and uncle took the criticism quietly. They thought they were helping but quickly discovered just giving me a book and a Twinkie was about all the adventure I could handle. 

I never did have any athletic prowess or learn how to play a musical instrument very well. 

My greatest lesson out of all of it though? Just because you see someone else doing it and they make it look easy, doesn’t mean it is. 

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.