How to fail miserably as an adult.

I recently hung out with my favorite soon-to-be 2nd grade twins. They are all about animals and trivia and whatnot.

The boy looked at me very seriously. “You’re a grown-up, so you probably know this,” he said. “But did you know that the harpy eagle has talons that are longer than a bear’s claws?”

Uh, no. No, I didn’t know that. My young friend was both delighted at his own intelligence and shocked at my ineptitude. He was too nice to say so, but clearly, I am shitty at being an adult.

I kind of want to start every single sentence with, “You’re a grown-up, so you probably know this.” It would be so awesome! Just think: “You’re a grown-up, so you probably already know this, but when you don’t put your dishes in the dishwasher, it makes the baby Jesus cry.” Or even, “You’re a grown-up, so you probably already know this, but the labradoodle ate poop today.”

Like being an adult is a form of omniscience. But as a kid, that’s totally what being a grown-up was all about! Those tall people knew everything! And yet, they managed to be pretty dull.

I noticed that my kid friends were reading a Beverly Cleary book. In an effort not to be the dullard adult, I mentioned that I, too, was reading a Beverly Cleary book: the second of her autobiographies. The first book is about her childhood, and the second covers college through getting her first book published.

Instead of being heralded as a literary genius, I faced contempt.

“Eww! The school one is probably way better. College and being a grown-up is so boring!”

So, that’s probably a healthy attitude for a 2nd grader. But Beverly Cleary’s autobiographies – A Girl From Yamhill and My Own Two Feet – are equally enthralling.

Plus, if we’re being honest?

I devoured all of Mrs. Cleary’s books as a kid, and finding these books aimed at adults was a thrill. I thought I’d read all the Cleary that’s there to be read, but I was mistaken! She wrote these 2 lovely little autobiographies for me to find as an inept adult.

Mrs. Cleary is 97 years old. I bet she knew all about the harpy eagle’s talons.

As a youngun’, my favorite books were those about Ramona – Ramona the Pest, Ramona Quimby, Age 8. The publication of Ramona Forever was the first time I ever anticipated a new book. I could hardly stand it until that light-blue paperback was available. Instead of going to the library, we bought it. It was a big deal. I tore through that book.

I don’t know crap about the harpy eagle, but I do love to read. And I think Mrs. Cleary helped me there, for sure.

What was your favorite Beverly Cleary book? And did you know about the harpy eagle?

Disclaimer: When you purchase a book through my links, Amazon throws some spare change my way. This enables me to pay my library fines, stay out of library jail, and keep entertaining you with my hard-hitting literary criticism.

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  • Reply smalltownme August 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I love second graders, but I did not know about the harpy eagle. Did you know that popcorn pops because there is a tiny bit of water inside the kernel which explodes when it gets heated? My son taught me that when he was only FOUR! I loved Beverly Cleary and read every book of hers that was in the school library. This was many years ago so I have missed quite a few.

  • Reply Jenny Hart Boren August 7, 2013 at 12:50 am

    You're a grown-up, so you probably know this, but I just love your blog and I feel all cheery when I see a new post.

    I also love Beverly Cleary's books, especially all the Ramona stories.

  • Reply Wendy August 7, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Wow…. I'm totally, sort-of, a grown up, and I here I am, CLUELESS about the harpy eagle. Oh, how I loved Ramona, Beezus, Henry and Ribsy though. Good stuff… very good stuff.

  • Reply cookingwithgas August 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I am not just a not smart grown up but I am working on being the not so smart grand ma as well.
    You can date me by my books….
    Nancy drew
    The boxcar kids and, good Lord, the Bobby twins.
    I know, I know.
    I wanted that pony skirt,scarf,flowing smart hair.
    And, I did not know about the eagle.

  • Reply Cyndi B. August 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I am getting those autobiographies TODAY…thanks for the link.

    I loved all her books, but Ellen Tebbits was my favorite when I was a kid. I could relate to her. Once I had kids, Ramona became my favorite. Let's just say I felt like Ramona's mom.

  • Reply Rainbow Motel August 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I love "A Girl from Yamhill"!!! Beverly Cleary's books always make me feel safe and happy. I have to re-read "Ramona the Pest" at the beginning of every school year.

  • Reply Becky August 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Being a grown up is totally over rated.

    Ramona all the way.

    I did not know about the harpy eagle. See? Being a grown up is definitely not all it's cracked up to be.

  • Reply Cha Cha August 9, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    I had no idea about the popcorn! I don't know whether to be thrilled or embarrassed.

  • Reply Cha Cha August 9, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I will now be smiling non-stop for the next week!

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin August 11, 2013 at 2:25 am

    Henry and Beezus simply because it was the first one I ever read by her and I was hooked–but I loved them ALL and had NO idea she wrote a bio!!!
    When little kids talk like that it just makes my heart feel full.

    p.s. I have a stuffed dog from childhood named Ribsy.

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