I Was A Good Kid
By eisforerin on May 19, 2014
I was a good kid. Well behaved, quiet. I talked early and read early. As a toddler I said excuse me to the vacuum cleaner when I passed by in the hallway, I’ve been told. I was soft spoken and got good grades in school.
On a family road trip once my parents bought me a box of Cracker Jacks late at night. I made sure to eat every bit of the snack before allowing myself to peek at the prize. I was proud of myself and then dismayed that my parents didn’t seem wowed by my amazing self discipline.
I was an irritable kid. I fought with my brother constantly. Sometimes just the feeling of his leg brushing mine in the car made me want to scream. We wrestled for fun but then I wanted to pummel him for real. I corrected him constantly, his speech, his grammar, his technical errors. The injustice of his wrongness infuriated me.
Once for a school project he wrote and illustrated a book about a family vacation. In it he claimed that he’d caught a fish with my dad when they went to the lake. I insisted they’d never caught a fish. I couldn’t get over it. How could he LIE? Why didn’t anyone care?
I was a tidy kid. My room was as neat as a pin all the time. I kept my pencils in a ceramic pencil holder that looked like a Converse sneaker, not that I ever wore Converse sneakers because I was told they were bad for my feet. The pencil holder was peach, the comforter on my bed was peach and I made my bed every morning before school. I kept a clean blotter on my desk at all times. I hated for my brothers to ever touch my stuff.
I was a messy kid. Every year in grade school my report card reported that I was smart and helpful and did all my work but my desk was a MESS. A mess! I could not keep it organized or neat at all, ever.
I was shy but social. I always had friends and we played at each other’s houses regularly. I roamed the neighborhood when I was small and when I got older I could walk to some friends’ houses, to the library, and downtown to get pizza and candy and hang out.
I was lonely. I never had a best friend. I never could tell anyone all of my deepest secrets. I was always the second or third ranked friend of everyone I hung out with and I knew it. It bothered me that I never had a nickname, not one that stuck anyway.
When I was in 5th grade our school had a spirit week and on Inside Out Day I showed up dressed the part. My homeroom teacher urgently whispered to me that my shirt was on inside-out. Even as I explained, I was flooded with the humiliating realization that she thought I was dweeby enough to dress like that by accident.
I was a creative kid. I loved to draw and loved to read even more. I wrote stories and illustrated them and stapled them to make little books. I recorded myself talking and singing on cassette tapes and added them to my stash of “secret stuff,” which I bound up in a kerchief like a cartoon hobo and took to my fort in the woods.
I was very literal. I knew that Snuffy was Big Bird’s imaginary friend but Big Bird could actually SEE him, so… that must mean I had no imagination, if I couldn’t see the things I imagined, right? I despaired. I tested myself by inventing an imaginary friend family of giant puffballs and concentrated on being able to make them real but it never quite worked right.
I was religiously confused. There was a Christian Rock song my parents played sometimes in which the singer laments that he keeps putting Jesus off until it’s too late for him to be saved. I once sat in the back of our van listening to it and secretly cried. Every Sunday I listened to the sermon and believed the pastor was speaking directly to me, knowing the evil that lurked in my heart. My little brother was baptized when he was 7 and I still hadn’t done it, a shameful fact that I could only hope no one had really noticed. On the occasions that we had communion in church, I orchestrated ways to hide in the bathroom or the nursery if I could. I wasn’t supposed to take it if I wasn’t saved.
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