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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

In Other Words: When Growing Pains Become the Good Old Days

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By Chuck Keller 

Do you remember growing pains? I do. It was unpleasant. My legs ached so much that I sometimes cried. I would try to sleep but the electric pain shot through the bones in my legs. In the morning, my pants were too short, which sent my mother to Shillito’s yet again. Growth was expensive and it hurt and we griped about it. And we need to remember that every now and then.  

1017 S. Fort Thomas Ave. 

It wasn’t too many years ago that there was a major renovation of water pipes on North Fort Thomas Avenue. Every winter we would have several water main breaks that flooded and sometimes froze the street. This particular project lasted three months. The streets were pretty much closed throughout the day.  I couldn’t park anywhere near our home because our section of the street became the staging area for the piles of sand and gravel and stacks of pipes and, of course, for the worker’s portable toilet. We spent three months schlepping everything to go to work, bring home groceries, and to even run errands. And there was no guarantee of a parking space. Sometimes we parked two blocks away. But it was all worth it in the end. No more water main breaks. It was expensive and stinky and time consuming and we griped about it — but I don’t think of it much any more. 

I feel for the neighbors who have experienced similar pains while the new elementary school has been built. Instead of three months, it has been two years. We griped about the dust, noise, and traffic. But it is close to completion and it is beautiful. Those growing pains are quickly moving into the past. The result is a first rate building to educate our children. 

I taught at Highlands for almost three decades and I spent almost a decade living with the constant renovation of the high school. I moved from the building to a trailer and then back into the building and then bounced around rooms before settling into “my” classroom. At one time we had to go outside to get the the other side of the building. For a while one side of the building had air-conditioning, food, and copiers while the other side had oppressive heat and dust. All the time we had to deal with meeting ever changing state education mandates. Yeah, we griped during those growing pains but the end result was worth it. We quickly got our legs under us.

After a while, though, we tend to forget those growing pains. Time fogs our memories and it often clouds our perception of the present. When you are three feet tall, you don’t know what it’s like to be six feel tall. You just know it’s painful getting there. It’s the classic ugly duckling story.  

Growth and change are going to happen whether we like it or not. Nostalgia is going to happen whether we like it or not. How we handle it is important. But knowing that we will change is the first step toward understanding and accepting it.  Growth is uncomfortable and messy but we either grow or wither. That  applies to people and community.

I feel all warm and fuzzy when I get nostalgic for the past and that’s okay for a bit, but the reality was that those times had their challenges. But we made it through. The possibilities of the future are exciting and I want to be part of it. Like Carly Simon sang, “These are the good old days.” Let’s make them count. 

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