I believe that experience comes with age, but maturity and responsibility don’t come with either, and that when we choose not to listen we deprive ourselves of learning. When I was a kid, unless it was at school where I was forced into the company of my peers, I rarely spent time with others my age. My cousins were the only brothers I had, and the four of them that I lived with for most of my upbringing were all older than I.
When my mother chose not to leave me with them, I tagged along with her to bars, experiencing the sights and sounds that are often associated with the nightlife and alcoholism. To the adults who frequented these establishments I was merely a kid without a babysitter, someone who didn’t belong and didn’t know better. I remember feeling somewhat sophisticated, privileged, and more grown-up at that elementary age as I sipped on a glass of Coca Cola dressed with cherries from the bar, listening to grown up jukebox music about a man’s “ex.’s from Texas”, and being complimented with free video game credits, all while being surrounded by the scent of cigarettes and the sounds of intoxicating conversations. I would use the close proximity of my mom to analyze these “adults” as they transformed after a few drinks from sober and mannered to childlike and irresponsible as they headed into their vehicles for a drive home after closing.
When my mom didn’t take me along on these visual learning field trips, she left me with my older cousins. And along with the hand-me-down clothes I usually inherited from them, also came sharing most of their friends as well. So I was frequently surrounded by much older people and was so eager to grow up that I chose to listen too often to the wrong people. My older and immature cousins, who were responsible for my well being and education in the absence of my father, would always target me as a victim in their clever pranks and their false teachings of life, often resulting in a fight between us. Over time and some hard lessons learned, they stopped messing with me.
Now, many years later, I believe that some people never experience the hard times that are often delivered by the hands of the more experienced, immature, or irresponsible, causing the inexperienced to learn valuable lessons that force them to grow stronger and become the opposite (mature and responsible). I believe some people never grow up, that selfishness is the lead cause of irresponsibility, and that is why so many childish people grow up only after having a child.
So in conclusion, I learned through trial and error how to be patient, listen to others with a bit of skepticism, and not be too eager to follow, but to let my experiences in life be the ultimate teacher so that my mature and responsible actions may reflect my age, and not the date on my drivers license.
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