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Life lessons can come from the most unexpected events. As Tom and Shannon have shown us in Volume 1 and Volume 2 of this series, sometimes the best learnings come from play – totally a win-win! Looking back at my childhood I can remember so many fun experiences that taught me valuable life lessons and molded who I am today.

My name is Cara, and here are a few playful stories along with some wisdom I was able to take away:

It was the summer after 4th grade, and my best friend, McKenna and I had crushes on twin boys from school. We wanted to get in touch with them but because we had the emotional maturity of, well, 4th graders, we decided to express our feelings via prank phone calls. There were several ideas thrown around but we landed on the idea of putting on southern accents and serenading them with “Happy Birthday”. This was totally out of nowhere, which we thought would be hilarious so we went with it. After getting them both on the line and going through the whole birthday song, they responded with, “Thanks! How did you know it was our birthday?”
Life Lesson #41: You may just have better intuition than you realize!

Growing up, I had a 6-foot Burmese Python named Sweetness (see above photo). He was by far the coolest pet in the neighborhood and definitely my favorite Christmas gift to date. Sweetness’ diet consisted solely of rats that we raised in our basement. Yep, we were that family. One snowy January evening, my mom received a phone call from a very distraught neighbor. “There are RATS running around the neighborhood!! RATS!! I know you have that big snake in your house and I know these are YOUR RATS! Only your family would be responsible for something like this. You need to get out here and do something about this NOW.” As my mom calmly denied the allegations, she quietly began waving her hands at my sister and I. “Beverly, I can assure you that we don’t have rats! There is no need to get riled up. I’m sure you just saw some field mice…. Ok? Ok. Have a good night. Buh-bye” Click. “GIRLS!!! PUT ON YOUR COATS AND GET THE FISHING NETS!! THE RATS ARE ON THE LOOSE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD!!” As my sister and I scurried around the neighborhood searching for red-eyed rodents against the white snow, we felt like we were CIA agents searching for foreign spies. We were somersaulting through backyards and tiptoeing around houses. Who knew a rat-hunt could be so much fun?
Life Lesson #12: Don’t worry about what others think of you… Being the weird family in the neighborhood is more fun.

In my 6th grade science class, we were split up into groups to give presentations on different classes of organisms. We were allowed to choose our groups, so I of course chose three of my close friends. Our subject was gastropods. Who knows why, but we decided to make a video about a Yeti (completely off-topic) in a courtroom (off-topic) discussing mollusks (ding-ding) to a jury. My friend dressed in a Yeti costume comprised of garbage bags and construction paper. She paced around my living room justifying the “muscular foot”. We had “commercials” thrown in with a lot of nonsense and not a lot of actual content. “Come to Mista’ Allen’s! GASTROPODS! $39 or 2 for $50!” None of it made any sense, but I know that it was probably the most fun I have ever had with a school project, ever. We showed up to class, absolutely BEAMING. The four of us were convinced we produced a Bill Nye/Dumb and Dumber hybrid. It was pure GOLD and we were so anxious to wow our peers. When our teacher pressed play, the class fell completely silent… except for four girls laughing uncontrollably in the front of the room.
Life Lesson #14: Who cares if no one else gets your humor, as long as your friends do?!

You don’t need statistics and scientific facts to understand that play is important. It shapes who we are and teaches us invaluable lessons. Look back on your childhood and share your favorite stories with a friend. Want to tell us your story? Shoot us an email at [email protected]. We may just feature you here!