Friday, August 6, 2010

Building Character. One. Push. At a time.

I have two daughters. You may hear about them here from time to time. I cannot help it; they are my heart.

It is only natural for a parent to want to protect their child from harm. Not just physical injury, but emotional injury as well. I understand that they will inevitably be hurt in numerous ways. I accept this, and encourage a certain amount of risk-taking. It builds character. I just with I could prevent them from repeating the mistakes I made growing up.

I was a passionate child. While this trait has its benefits, it can quickly sour one’s interactions with others, particularly when someone gets hurt. For the record, I’m certain that I had interactions with other children that did not involve someone being either embarrassed or maimed, but apparently they were not remarkable enough to be stored in the historical annals of memory.

The earliest of these memories begins when I am about 5. I had a neighbor, Julie, who was a couple years younger than I was. She had the awesomest swing set ever. It had swings, a slide, AND a seesaw. She also had a sandbox made out of an old tire that the neighborhood cats regularly pooped in. Then we’d scoop out the poop with plastic shovels. We were just that cool.

Since she was only 3, I’m not sure Julie ever knew who I was, but I went over there often to play with her on the swing set and in the sandbox.

One beautiful summer day I was pushing her on the swings. She gleefully laughed and screamed, higher, HIGHER!!! I was filled with pride. Look how happy she is! I’m such a good friend! Surely the arc and trajectory of her flight on the swing correlates with her happiness factor and proves what a good person I am!

Taking this theorem to heart, I gave her one almighty push. So powerful was my effort in that push, that I managed to push her OFF the swing. Instead of soaring majestically through the air, she rose approximately two inches and then fell flat on her face onto the gravel.

She started screaming in agony. WHAT HAD I DONE??!!! My act of supreme friendship had gone horribly awry!

I knew I had to do the right thing, to nobly find her mother, admit my transgression and face the consequences due to such fiends who pushed three-year-olds off the swings.

Instead I ran back home and hid in my basement.

Shortly after that Julie’s family moved away, probably because there was a mysterious serial killer lurking in the neighborhood trying to do away with their precious daughter. One. Push. At a time.

About 6 years later I ran into Julie at a summer bible camp. I’m pretty certain she didn’t remember who I was, as she introduced herself by saying, “Hi, I’m Julie. Who are you?” I certainly didn’t want to remind her that I was the Mad Pusher who haunted her childhood nightmares, so I replied, “Angela.”

She looked at me cock-eyed and asked “Have I seen you at church before?” Me: “mumble....mumble.....No.” It was true, I hadn’t attended that church before. I went to that bible camp only because the most popular girl in school had invited me, and I wanted to impress on her my piety and pureness, lest she find out I was actually an unbaptized heathen who pushed her friends off swings.

This was only the first of many instances in which my attempts to impress had backfired, revealing my true identity as a neurotic spaz who ought not be let out in public unsupervised. And now I’ve went and procreated.

I’m sorry.


LindsayDawn said...

do you know how many times i relive hitting you in the head with an aluminum bat? why can't we forgive our 5-year-old selves?