The boy's parents told me that their first-born son was a breech birth, which may have been an omen of what was to occur thereafter. At nine months of age, their baby boy started walking, which was rather early as far as normal child development. The toddler then began to explore the world around him, and he seemed to be able to imitate many things that he witnessed his parents do.
While playing cards one evening with another couple, someone noticed the smell of vanilla coming from the kitchen pantry. The boy had mixed up a cake on the pantry floor. He had deposited a bag of flour, a dozen eggs, and a bottle of vanilla extract on the floor . . . quite a mess . . . The boy was a baker! That same year, the parents were horrified to discover that their little boy had drunk some kerosene . . . not tasty at all, but no lingering effects according to the doctor. The parents had to really keep track of him at all times.
Life went fairly smoothly until the youngster reached the age of 4. While accompanying his father to the grain elevator, the curious youngster climbed out of the truck when no one was looking . . . and fell into the grain dump hole while the auger was running! Luckily, a worker who was bagging feed in an adjoining room, saw the boy fall in . . . and hit the stop switch button before it was too late! That same year, the boy's mother noticed a flash of light in the living room. The boy had taken a pair of scissors and had cut a lamp light cord in two in the darkened room. The boy received quite a shock, but only suffered minor burns. "What are we going to do with that boy?"
At the age of 5, the boy was sent off to first grade. The teacher, a very nice older lady, asked the class if anyone knew any nursery rhymes. The little boy raised his hand. He could recite several. In front of the class, he recited the following, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? . . . with silver bells and cockleshells, and one damn petunia! This did not go over well at all.
By the age of 6, the boy enjoyed being with his father most of the day. One afternoon they went on a rabbit hunt on the farm. After bagging two, the father took them behind the wood shed to dress them out. You guessed it . . . while his father was out of sight, the boy loaded up the J.C. Higgins 12 gauge shotgun, racked one in the chamber, and fired off a round! His father just about had a stroke.
Both parents decided it would be beneficial for their son to attend Sunday school. This did have a positive impact on his behavior, except for that one Sunday morning when the boy decided to shave before putting on his Sunday best. He lathered his face with soap, but instead of using a safety razor, he decided to shave with the razor blade injector . . . not a pleasant sight when the youngster injected a razor blade through his cheek . . . so much for Sunday school that morning!
That same year, the father was planting corn, and he instructed his son to walk to the house and have his mother drive the pickup truck back to the field. Without even looking for his mother, the boy sat in the driver's seat, turned on the key, and hit the starter pedal on the floorboard. The truck took off it was already in gear. The boy drove back to the field, turned off the key, and sat there in the parked truck . . . so proud that he was big enough to drive . . . except that his father pointed out to his son that the truck's running board and rear fender were laying back near the gate next to the concrete post where they had been sheared off . . . Lordy, Lordy!
At the age of 8, the boy was instructed to go inside the house and have his mother fill up his father's cigarette lighter with fluid. The boy decided that he would have no problem handling that job himself . . . except that he spilled lighter fluid. When he attempted to light it, the kitchen counter, the kitchen curtains, and his arm caught on fire! No serious burns . . . but new curtains were in order.
At the age of 9, the youngster received a B-B rifle for Christmas. It did not take long for him to shoot out all of the lightning rod glass bulbs on both barns. That was the same year that he climbed on top of the house and jumped off the porch overhang . . . pretending to be Superman, but instead, breaking his ankle. Will it ever end?
Now you might ask...whatever happened to this youngster? Well, he did enjoy going to school and Sunday school. He had very caring and loving parents and teachers, all of whom had LOTS of patience. His misbehaviors diminished through the years, and in the fourth grade, he fell in love...with his teacher, who completely changed his attitude . . . but that is another story. The boy started making good grades, minded his parents, and got along with everyone. He gave his parents and others a few headaches when he was young, but finally made them proud.
After graduation from high school, he attended college . . . and became a teacher at his old school...and after that...a police officer. Yes, that little boy was me!
So, you parents who have a "problem child" of your own . . . be patient and keep the faith. With a lot of love...and a lot of aspirin, you can make it through your youngster's "ornery" years!

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.