I was creative. My sister and I didn’t rely on electronics, or toys for that matter, to have fun. We played hide and seek. We climbed the tree in our backyard. When my dad finally trusted us with his video camera, we filmed movies with our Playmobil figures.
This was my childhood.
I laughed a lot. One person that made me laugh in particular was my Uncle Doug. Whenever he visited, he brought with him a new story that always had me in stitches. Or a new joke that I would tell to my classmates the next day. I grew up with a family that wasn’t afraid to be goofy. A family that never wanted to take life so seriously.
This was my childhood.
I had a lot of friends. Every Saturday after soccer practice, I would go to Tess’s house since she lived right next to the field. On weekdays, I would go to Hannah’s house and bounce on her trampoline: my mom even let me sleep over her house on school nights a few times. Every Friday night, Maddie, Emily and I would have a sleepover. Whether it was watch “Madeline” for the hundredth time or play Crazybones in Maddie’s basement, we always had something to do.
This was my childhood.
My mom had cancer. Breast cancer. I was in middle school, unsure of how to handle these emotions. Up until that point, life for me had been carefree. Now I had this dark cloud over my head every day: would I lose my mom? That’s when I met God. He knew I wasn’t going to lose my mom and when I prayed for her to get better, He answered that prayer. My mom has been in remission for seven years.
Sometimes I question my motives as a child. Why did I do certain things I did? Was that even the same girl? Unfortunately, yes, that nosy little girl that whines whenever she doesn’t get her way is the same girl that’s typing this post. But as we get older, we grow. We learn from our mistakes and naturally become a different person than we were ten years ago. And lucky for us, those mistakes we made when we were little make for great stories.
It was the Christmas of ’97. I was four years old, eagerly waiting to open the first of many presents delivered to me by Santa Claus. My older sister, Hannah, was always the more patient of the two of us so she got to open the first present. She picked up the first box and as she unwrapped it, a smile started to form across her face. It was a loom kit, where she could make her own potholder. Apparently, pot holders were all the range for 6 year olds back in the day, though I didn’t see the excitement in a present so simple. The morning went on as one by one, all the presents were open. I’m sure I got a lot of great gifts that year but for some reason, my mind was fixed on that loom kit.
This Christmas day went on like any other: my mom and dad cooked the Christmas dinner while Hannah and I played with the new toys Santa had just given us. While I was dressing my new American Girl Doll and exploring the new Barbie Dream House, I remember Hannah spending all her time with this loom. And seeing her so invested in it made me jealous; I wanted a loom now too.
So I asked her multiple times if I could help her weave the pot holder together. And time after time, she said, in a very polite manner, “no, this is mine, Haley.” But it didn’t matter to me. I wanted to play with this loom and I wouldn’t quit until I got the opportunity.
Around 4 o clock, Hannah had finally finished her fine piece of art. She paraded around the house, showing us all what she had accomplished in just one day. My parents were so proud of her and I was fuming with jealousy at this point. So, against my better judgment, I took action. After realizing she left her completed pot holder on the coffee table in the living room, I knew this was my chance to act. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut straight through the potholder she slaved over for hour. All of Hannah’s hard work down the drain; and why? I still have no justifiable answer to that question. I began to walk away with pride over what I had just done, until I heard saw my sister walk down the hall and I knew it was over: I was standing by her ripped pot holder with a pair of scissors in my hand: I was caught in the act.
After a brief moment of silence, she yelled “MOM!” and the tears began to fall. “Haley cut my potholder!” I don’t think I’d ever seen my mom so angry or my sister so upset. I was busted.
After minutes of yelling, the ultimate punishment was rewarded. There was a Christmas party we went to every year on Christmas night at our neighbor’s house. More importantly, at our favorite babysitter’s house. It was always the event we looked forward to on Christmas. And I couldn’t go. This was worse than any number of spankings I could receive or any number of toys taken away from me. This was the worst punishment I could receive.
Telling the story today, my mom always makes sure to include the part where my sister and mom are walking to the neighbor’s house. They looked back and saw me in the upstairs window of my bedroom, tears streaming down my face. Looking back, this scene is extremely comical and the story is one of my favorites to tell. But that day was one of the lowest points of the first four years of my life. I learned that no matter how jealous I was of my sister, I should never cut her artwork or touch her stuff. Because getting caught was inevitable. And I would never get my way in the end.
I think we all make mistakes like this as a kid. It’s normal to do something without thinking, especially at such a young age. But we learn from it and grow. And have a great story to tell. So don’t be afraid to mess up. Don’t be afraid to do something stupid. It only makes you human.