Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cluelessly Confident

I have a number of very early memories from my childhood. Analyzing them I find that they can be a window into my character and personality.



Here is a story of something that happened to me when I was no more than four years old. It shows how even then, as now, I was confident in my cluelessness.

When I was four years old my family lived in an apartment complex. I remember playing in the stairwell of our building and visiting the neighbors who lived downstairs. There were about six buildings in the complex arranged facing each other along three sides of a square with a large grassy area in the middle. Along the fourth side of the complex was a busy road called Bass Lake Road. I spent a lot of time playing in the grassy area in front of the apartment buildings and that is where I learned to ride a bicycle with training wheels.

One day I was hanging around with some older girls who lived in the complex. They were talking about going to the store and getting themselves a carmelled apple. I begged them to take me with them. In the typical way of a four year old bulldog, I wouldn't take no for an answer. "Fine!" they said. "You have to have a quarter to pay for it. " "Wait for me! Don't go without me! I'll be right back!!" I raced off to our apartment and explained it all to my 23 year old mother. "The girls are going to the PDQ to get a carmelled apple! They said I could go with them! I need a quarter to buy the apple! Please, Mommy!!" My mother quizzed me about the plan. I would be going with the older girls down the street to the PDQ. "Yes! Yes! Hurry!" Okay, she reluctantly agreed that I could go with the girls and gave me a quarter.

I raced out to find the big girls, the quarter clutched in my hot little baby hand. The girls were no where to be seen. I know now that those girls were likely trying to get rid of the pesky little kid and disappeared as soon as I ran home for the quarter. In my four year old naivete, I thought those nice girls who had agreed to take me to the store were just a distance down the street already and I would meet up with them if I hurried. I went out to the sidewalk along the busy street, gave it about two seconds of careful thought, chose a direction and started walking. I was pretty sure the PDQ was in the direction I was heading but I couldn't be certain since the only time I had been there was with my mother in the car. There was no doubt in my mind that I would find it anyway.

Soon I was out of sight of the apartments, the cars whizzing by as I tripped along on the sidewalk. I was sure that in no time at all I would join the big girls and we would get our carmelled apples together. After a distance- how long? a block? a few blocks? a half mile? the PDQ came into sight. My heart leaped with satisfaction that I had gone the right direction and I thought the girls must be in the store already enjoying their gooey apples. I couldn't wait to join them.

My confidence as I marched into the store melted into clueless confusion. I had no idea where the carmelled apples were or how to get one. I shuffled around a bit and then went to the checkout where I had been many times with my mother and baby brother. I handed the lady my quarter and confidently asked for a carmelled apple.

The next thing I knew I was heading out of the PDQ clutching a sticky apple and bursting with pride at my accomplishment. Back on the sidewalk, I had to again decide which direction to walk. Though my four year old brain had no understanding of direction, I had no doubt that whatever way I chose to go would lead me straight home. I strode off with assurance though in the back of my mind I was still puzzled by why I hadn't found the big girls. I feared they were missing out on the sweet sticky goodness of the apples from the PDQ.

By the grace of God and on the wings of angels, I made it back to the apartment complex. My disappointment in missing the companionship of big girls was tempered by my exhilaration in having taken myself to the store and back without help. I was really a big girl now!

Oddly, my mother did not join me in the celebration of my accomplishment.

6 comments:

  1. Oh my! If I were your mother, I wouldn't have either!!! HEART ATTACK! I'm so glad you were ok!

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  2. You certainly were a brave girl! That would have put me (as a mother) in the hospital for sure.

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  3. I... um... whoa. I can say nothing but meaningless sputterings. As the mother of a four-year-old, I don't think I would have survived something like that...

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  4. OK, some of those details are not right! The store was only a couple 100 yds away from the entrance to the complex so you didnot cross a street and honestly I donot remember you telling me when you came home about going alone!! Maybe I have erased that part from my memory bank!

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  5. I said I have no idea how far away it was. My memories as a four year old don't have any connection with the distance. I didn't think it could have been too far or surely I would've gotten lost. I also have no memory of crossing a street, just following the sidewalk. I do vaguely remember your incredulous and unhappy reaction when you found out the girls had not gone with me. (I have blurred that in my memory bank too.) It is certainly no reflection on your mothering, Mom, but on the way I, as a four year old, was not capable of making good decisions.

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  6. Ok so that was HOW long ago! (Im smilling!)...now a days, you would have been picked up by either a police man or stranger. Poor mom would have been in trouble too. Lizzy's 8 and I would never let her leave my sight (even if she went with older girls). Can't imagine doing it in a few years either, but I will have too. Now letting Mark let her go anywere in a few years, thats a different story...

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