Small-town Nebraska is no doubt the best place to grow up. It teaches you some pretty important lessons that give you a solid foundation for the rest of your life. But those of us who grew up in little Nebraska towns know that there were a few drawbacks, too (or at least they seemed like drawbacks at the time). There were always some things we just couldn’t get away with, no matter how hard we tried.
1. Skipping school.
Remember in Ferris Bueller's Day Off when the entire city banded together to "Save Ferris" when he stayed home with a fake cold? The people in a small town are similarly...um, involved in your life. Good luck enjoying that day off.
2. ...Or even being late for school.
You probably had to ride a bus to and from school every day, likely for half an hour or more each way. If the driver had to wait for you in the morning, you'd hear about it...and so would your parents.
3. Actually, getting into any trouble at all in school.
Chances are that if you handed in a late assignment or failed a test, your parents knew about it before you even got home. And if you cheated on a test, you were a goner - that kind of nonsense just didn't fit with our small-town values.
4. Trying to date anyone secretly.
Maybe you wanted to spare the feelings of a new crush's ex, or maybe you just didn't want the drama of everyone knowing your business. But it didn't matter in a small town. The moment you batted your eyelashes at someone, the whole school knew.
5. Keeping any kind of secret at all.
Honestly, you may as well have just taken out a headline in the local newspaper. Secrets can't really survive in small towns.
6. Talking in church.
Your parents would never hear the end of it from the older folks in town, and in turn you would never hear the end of it from your parents.
7. Talking back to a grownup - ANY grownup.
We were taught to respect our elders, no matter who they were. If you interrupted the Sunday School lady, sassed your teacher, or forgot to say "thank you" after buying a candy bar at the corner store, those elders had no problem putting you in your place.
8. Sneaking out.
This one is just so laughable because, even if you did manage to sneak out, where would you go? Someone would see you no matter where you went, and the news would eventually make its way back to mom and dad. Still, plenty of us did it anyway, even if we just went to the playground to hang out on the swings.
9. Having a party when the parents were out of town.
Why would you think you could pull something like that off without everyone in town finding out? You could take that party out to the middle of an empty field (and we did!) and it would still be front page news the next day.
10. Going someplace you weren't supposed to go.
If you told Mom and Dad you'd be in a certain place, you knew you'd better be there and nowhere else. Because you could almost guarantee that the next time your parents went to the grocery store (or even to the mailbox) someone would stop to chat, and the subject of your recent whereabouts would definitely come up.
11. Missing curfew.
Don't claim you didn't hear Mom yelling your name from the front door when the streetlight(s) came on. The whole town was only a mile wide, and small-town moms have perfected the art of projecting their voices.
12. Getting a fresh start with your new teacher at the beginning of the school year.
They'd already taught all of your older siblings, your cousins, and possibly even your parents. They knew exactly what to expect from you.
13. Not joining every single team, club, and activity the school had to offer.
If you didn't join that club, there wouldn't be enough members to keep it going. You just had to take one for the team, like that unenthusiastic fellow on the right up there.
14. Missing a single home game or meet of any high school sport.
Football games doubled as date nights; basketball games were where we sat around to gossip with friends, and track meets were an excuse to soak up some sun. Plus we were showing school spirit, of course.
15. Getting into any kind of trouble with the law at all.
Even if that "trouble" was being looked at sideways by the local cop (or, more likely, the cop from the bigger town 50 miles away who occasionally rolled through town). Your entire family would either be angry at you or making fun of you for weeks.
16. Any kind of tomfoolery whatsoever.
It's not that we never did anything fun or dumb. It's just that there was no hiding who was behind it - the whole town knew who put underpants on that statue minutes after you and your friends did it.
17. Holding a grudge.
Everybody fights with their friends, but holding onto that argument for too long never worked well in a little town. After all, you'd known the same group of people since birth and would know them all through high school and beyond. You had to make peace eventually.
18. Not returning a greeting, smile, or farmer wave.
The absolute pinnacle of rudeness. Your grandparents will be hearing about this.
19. Not helping out a neighbor who needed it.
If you saw an elderly neighbor outside struggling to mow their lawn or shovel their driveway, you'd better have gotten yourself out there immediately to lend a hand.
Of course, these things were pretty universal in small towns across the Midwest and beyond – but they’re parts of our Nebraska upbringing that we’ll never forget. How many of these sound familiar to you? Add your own to the list in the comments!
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