I am in a confessional mood today. I was listening to The Musician vacuuming the house this morning and it took me back to a Saturday long ago when I was vacuuming as a chore. I was not enthusiastic about working that day. As an only child, I had a good list of things I was expected to do on Saturdays and vacuuming was not usually one of them. I pushed that Hoover through the living room, dining room, down the hall and into the bedrooms. By the time I reached my parents’ room, I was pretty much sick of it. I decided to just do a cursory one two three swipes of the vacuum and call it good.
About 15 minutes after I had put the vacuum away, my Mom came and sat down by me and asked me if I had vacuumed her room. I said yes. She then asked if I had done a good job. Again, I said yes. Then she got this very disappointed look on her face (and I am a typical “pleaser” oldest child that hates disappointed looks) and said that she knew I was lying. She took me back to her room and showed me how the vacuum had made tracks in her carpet and that she could see where I had vacuumed and where I had not. Feeling lower than dirt, I went and got the vacuum and redid her room.
Years earlier, when we were living in Thailand, I learned a different lesson in honesty. I had asked my mom if I could play over at a friend’s. She had said yes, but the other mom said no. My friend and I decided to play anyway. I told my mom where I was going and then I sneaked into their apartment while the mom was in the shower. I played for about 10 minutes with my friend and then heard the shower stop. I hid in the bottom of a closet, but I was found and returned shame-faced to my mother. I don’t remember what kind of punishment I received, I just remember the horrible feeling I had inside of being caught in a sneaky lie.
One last confession; once I killed a frog. I was younger than 4, because it happened in Massachusetts. I don’t remember exactly how old I was. I was trying to impress some of the neighborhood kids. I don’t know how or why I thought that gruesome act would boost me in their eyes. I found a small frog (maybe it was a toad) and I stepped on it until it was squooshed. Then, I went to my friends and showed them. They thought it was horrible.
Here I am, decades older, and those experiences still make me shudder with guilt. I try not to ever tell untruths. I don’t sneak behind people’s back (except pureed vegetables into main dishes). I don’t harm animals ~ my sons still shake their heads over me crying after we hit a bird on the highway four years ago. I have certainly stopped trying to impress people with brash actions.
I don’t think about those lessons often. Something, like today’s vacuuming, will send me back to those experiences and I will remember. However, I think things like that shaped who I am. I bet we all have things that happened to us in our childhood that stayed with us even to this day and helped us grow into the people we are now.