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When I was a little kid, I didn't know anything.

I knew that was true because everyone told me so.People wanted to help me get smarter by picking out my friends, my college, my career, and telling me how I should live my life and avoid making mistakes.

I didn't listen to any of them.

I figured how hard could learning about life be? All you had to do was color within the lines.

I didn't want to wait until I was 6 to start first grade, so I went a year early and fell asleep at the desk every afternoon. Not a smart decision.

When I was 9, my mother was napping, and I sneaked out with my cousin to an amusement park and burned my arm so badly on the slide, I needed medical attention. Big goof.

When someone said food was hot, I ate it and burned my mouth. When I was told that fire hurts, I ignited an entire book of matches that burned the skin off the palm of my hand. When it was suggested I get my bicycle off the street for the night, I didn't do it. It was stolen.

I was getting smarter every day, but I seemed to be paying the price for it.

The friends I liked the most were the ones my mother liked the least. Her choice of clothes never came close to mine.

I listened to no one. I blew three weeks' salary on a pair of shoes that killed my feet. I picked my own college to study journalism. After the first semester, the counselor recommended I take a secretarial course and get married.

During my entire life I have stubbornly clung to bad decisions that in a weird way enlightened me and made me a little wiser.

When I had children, I thought, "Look what I can do with this treasure house of experience and wisdom I have amassed. I can protect them from hurt, pain, disappointment, stupidity and embarrass-ment."

I quickly discovered what my mother knew all along. There are two things you must do by yourself: give birth and live your own life. If you don't do it by yourself, you will never mature, develop resilience, be responsible for your own actions or learn by your mistakes.

I said to my mother the other day, "I wasn't such a bad kid, was I?"

"You always had good posture," she said.