Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Knew I Was In Trouble

"Dad's home!" My brother yells from the living room.

My 10 year old heart pounds a little faster thinking of the implications of my earlier actions. How can I get out of getting in trouble? I just know that Dad is going to get mad and ground me. Which means no friends, no phone, and no fun. I can not let this happen. I will do whatever it takes.

Then I hear him call,"Tina!"

I go outside to where his booming voice is coming from. The sliding glass doors to the patio like an entrance to a courtroom where my sentence is about to be handed down. He looks at me with his eyebrows frowning. With the sense that he can not believe what he is seeing was my doing. I am usually the "good girl", never getting into to trouble, and not one to take risks. What the heck happened today then?

Well, let me tell you how it all started- boredom. End of summer, almost ready to go back to school, boredom. My brother and I were looking for anything to do to pass the time while mom and dad were at work and we were home alone again with nothing to do but fight or get into trouble. This day we decided to get into trouble. Not with trouble being the goal, but that was the end result.

It started with my brother David, a typical eight year old boy, taking some rocks and throwing them on top of the roof of our house. Somehow, against my better judgement, I was roped into the fascination of how the rocks made a loud crack when they hit the roof. And then we upped the ante to see who could actually get the rock over the top of the house first.

With my very first attempt I chose a rather large, smooth rock that I felt would fly through the air and hit the driveway at the front of the house with the greatest of ease. I flung that rock with all my little girl strength, knowing that I would be the winner and be able to tease my brother for endless amounts of weeks that he is a weakling because I beat him at the contest.

As soon as the "perfect" rock left my hand I realized that the "perfect" throw was not going to be a winning throw. I remember thinking while watching the rock fly really low towards the house,"Why did I think this was okay?" And then, when the rock hit my parents bedroom window with a crash, my next thought was,"I am in so much trouble."

So now I am standing in front of my dad, crying out of fear and I come up with a question for him. A question that I hope will get me out of trouble. I say,"Dad, if I tell you the truth will I get in trouble?" Genius. He looks at me with quizzical eyes and I can tell he is trying to search for the right answer to my question. He finally replies,"If you tell me the truth you will not get in as much trouble as if you lie." Hm mm...? Not only was I going to have to tell him that I was the one to break the window, but I was going to learn a good life lesson in the process of getting in trouble.

This is why all these 28 years later, I remember this moment with great clarity. It was the moment that I knew I would not tell a lie, ever. I knew and understood and actually believed that I should get in trouble for my actions if my actions were detrimental to myself or others. I hope that I can teach this principle to my children and that it can make a lasting impression like the impression my dad made on me that day when he answered my question with the right answer.

Oh, and as far as the sentence served for my infraction that day, I do not remember if I received any or not. I think the feelings involved were enough for me to learn to think through my actions before I moved forward with them. To trust that intuitive voice I have inside that helps me make the right decision. I did not need to be grounded to take that lesson with me through the rest of my life.

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