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I once read a best-seller stating that all we had to learn could be learned in kindergarten. My best education started much earlier while on the farm, and my teacher was none other than my big brother Dean. 

Dean’s Lessons 

  1. Water and electricity don’t mix.  Therefore, don’t splash water from the cow tank to the electric fence, or you will surely die — and that means don’t fall in the tank when you are playing, because you will make a big splash and you know what will happen next. 
  2. Never try to stick your tongue on the cold pump handle or it will freeze there, and you will lose your tongue and never talk again. 
  3. Put your first-earned dollars into savings and live on the rest.
  4. A “human being” is not a bean dressed in clothes. Don’t ever let anyone else hear you say that or they will think you are dumb. 
  5. Speaking of dumb — learn to pronounce your words right or people will think you are not only dumb, they will think you are stupid. 
  6. If you want something, make everyone think that you have something better than what they have. 
  7. Keep your feet out of the spokes of the bicycle or you will end up with skinned knees or worse. To be on the safe side, use the braces that I put on for you to keep your feet in.   
  8. If I am racing my bicycle and start to skid on the loose gravel, jump for safety. 
  9. Tears in the winter will turn into icicles, give you a stone face and will eventually crack and look ugly. So, walk faster and think you are warm. 
  10. Respectable girls don’t hang out at the cattle barn during the fair.
  11. Practice shifting gears (when you sit in the car that is standing still with the motor not running) so you will be able to know how to shift gears when you are ready to drive. 
  12. If some of my friends think you are cute, just remember you are my sister.
  13. Find out what day your birthday is and don’t expect anyone else, including me, to remember it for you. 
  14. Remember – never spit into the wind!
  15. Many things happen just to make little girls ask questions; so therefore, it is okay to ask a lot of questions – just accept the answers that I give you.

I am sure there were many other lessons, but these should be enough examples to give you this simple message: I am glad I had this survival course, and I especially want to say: Thanks God, for giving me a big brother. 

Patricia Jensvold

Born and educated in rural Iowa, Pat Jensvold attended Iowa State Teachers College and taught lower elementary grades.

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