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Head Coach: Do you remember the days of harmless mischief?

By By Lane JohnsonIt was a quiet afternoon. My wife and I were home enjoying a holiday. I was working on something in the office. She was nestled in the den, reading. The doorbell rang.
Jan. 9, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:09 p.m.


"I'll get it!" I called out and headed for the door.

No one was there. I stepped outside and looked around. No one. My first thought was that I was hearing things and maybe the doorbell didn't actually ring. These days, it wouldn't be the first time. Isn't it interesting how one of the first things to go when you age is your confidence that you actually heard what you heard or saw what you saw and, for that matter, remembered anything right?

Fortunately, my wife confirmed the doorbell ringing. Since I haven't lost confidence in her yet, I reconciled that it was a mystery and went back to what I was doing.

I'm quite comfortable with categorizing something a mystery and letting it go. I used to have to get to the bottom of everything and figure out the missing pieces. But I've become satisfied with never having all the information and simply calling it a mystery. I guess one benefit of aging is that, since one begins to understand less and less, "it's a mystery" is easier to accept.

I am reminded of the time my daughter, at age 7, asked me how something worked. I tried to explain the science and logic of the process and got nothing but a blank stare.

After several attempts at making more sense to her without success, I finally just said, "It's a mystery." Her eyes lit up and she said, "Oh, OK," and walked off quite satisfied. I appreciate thinking like a 7-year-old again.

Where was I? Oh yes, the doorbell rang. About 30 minutes after the mystery doorbell, it rang again. No one was there. Again, I stepped outside. Only this time, off in the distance, I could hear giggling. Following the sound took me down the street a few houses. It was dusk, and the dark was rapidly limiting visibility.

But I saw the silhouettes of three kids running across the neighbor's backyard and scaling a fence. When they noticed I was tracking them, their giggles went stone quiet as they disappeared into the darkness. That's when I noticed I left the house in my socks and was now standing on wet ground.

I started to get angry until I realized how delightfully refreshing it is to see kids engaging in the same harmless mischief I used to do. Remember when mischief was playful and no harm done?

It was irritating, but no damage occurred, and no one got hurt. Now, I know how the little old lady down the street felt when I was a kid, and we sneak-rang her doorbell. She never tried to chase us. Maybe she just smiled and went about her day without messing up her socks.

I can't remember the last time I've seen good, clean mischief. How many of you remember calling random phone numbers and asking if their refrigerator was running? If you do, you know the rest of the story. My wife told me about the times she and her friends would watch "Dialing for Dollars" on television and time a random phone call to coincide with the show and tell the person answering that they just won a boatload of money. They would hang up on the joyful screams from the person on the other end.

I wish I could catch those kids who are ringing my doorbell. I would commend them for engaging in good, clean fun in which no tires are slashed, no hub caps stolen and no paint has to be cleaned off the house.

I just have some socks to wash out. I would thank them for the nostalgic walk down memory lane. But then I would warn them to stay out of my neighborhood. This is my territory. Nobody sneak-rings these doorbells but me.

Lane Johnson, M.Div., LPC, is a licensed counselor. He welcomes your comments. You can contact him by email at lane@Strategic ConnectionGroup.com.

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