43-year-old Kent has learned a lot that I wish 23-year-old Kent would have known

I’m celebrating another birthday today.

Well, celebrating may be a bit overstated. I am having a birthday.

I know one thing, 43-year-old Kent has learned a lot that I wish 23-year-old Kent would have known. Youth is wasted on the young and by the time wisdom comes, it is too late to do anything about it.

One place my advanced years helps is in raising my favorite Ethiopian immigrant. Dawit tests every parental instinct I have and then some. He never means to cause trouble or make messes. It’s in his genetic coding.

He likes to have fun. He likes to help. He likes to do things for himself.

All of those sentences have the same basic translation. He makes messes and causes trouble. Dawit always means well. Unfortunately, good motives never regrow hair or put flower pots together again.

Last week after parent teacher conferences, I was telling Blake (our ten year old) that he might consider taking the gifted class test. He said he would but he was worried about the math portion.

“You are good at math,” I told Blake. “Your teacher said you are doing great.”

“But I don’t know about Pi and stuff like that,” Blake argued. Blake always argues.

“Yes you do Blakee,” Dawit interrupted. Dawit always interrupts. He has a lot to say now that he speaks English better. “You like pie. I like pumpkin pie. Why doesn’t momma make pumpkin pie like grandma? I will ask momma to make you some pie before your test.”

See what I mean? Dawit means well. But things don’t always go like he imagines.

On a recent trip to Oklahoma, he had to accompany my wife to an appointment with a hairdresser. He saw the woman cut and style my wife’s hair.

He decided that he wanted to be “beautiful and handsome” too.

So he cut his own hair. Three lovely V-shaped bald spots dotted his head where cute little sub-Saharan curls had stood. He was shocked to find out we preferred that he left that task to the professionals.

He was less shocked when he got in trouble for busting up about a half dozen flower pots on the back porch. While I was trying to relax on a Sunday afternoon, I heard quite a racket out on the back porch. There was a stack of wood on one side of the porch and a pile of broken pottery on the other side.

I asked the little fella what happen during the massacre of the flower pots. For a kid who spoke two words of English two years ago, Dawit spun together a magical tale.

You see, he was building a tower with wooden 4x4s and flower pots. Everyone knows the Kansas wind blows swiftly across the plains. Well, his tower fell victim to just such an inclement incident. His tall tale included a ghastly gust that toppled the pots and left a handful broken to bits.

There were two problems with his fanciful story. The laws of gravity and an eye witness. Blake had seen one of the pots being flung to the ground. Also, the broken pots were more than 10 feet from the tower in question. Usually with wind that strong, little girls are taken to Oz or crazy weather guys are chasing behind it.

Not seeing any flying monkeys or storm chasers, I was more inclined to believe the eyewitness account.

So when I brought the suspect in for questioning, I lost patience with his story telling quickly. After several minutes of debate, Dawit finally hung his head and said, “Blakee is right.”

After a quick teachable moment, Dawit learned that lying about problems got him in more trouble than the problem.

His punishment was severe. The family trip to get ice cream was canceled.

I hope he learned his lesson. I hate missing trips to get ice cream.

Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com