“I told you I was trouble, You know I’m no good”
-Amy Winehouse, You Know I’m No Good
So, the task at hand is to write about a time I got in trouble. My first thought was that I wouldn’t have anything to write about. I am a total rule follower. This one’s going to take some digging in the deepest recesses of my mind…. I mulled it over a while and started remember little things here and there. I soon realized all these little things were adding up…. Could I have been living a lie all these years??? My persona of being a good girl just blew up in my face in slow motion…
It all started with my first lie. My lie was in the form of an imaginary friend. At the tender age of 3 years, I did not know what an imaginary friend was but I was about to invent one. It was a small offense, I spilled something or broke something, I can’t quite remember. When I was busted, I blamed it on Billy Monkey. Not sure where this came from, but my mom’s reaction ensured that he was sticking around for a while. She thought it was adorable. She told her friends that I had an imaginary friend and that she was sure it was a sign of intelligence and creativity. Hmmm, this was convenient. My mischievous monkey was quite amusing to the one person in charge of disciplining me. I took full advantage of this. I used the Billy Monkey excuse all the time. “Billy Monkey did it” was always followed by uproarious laughter. It became almost as rote as the Laugh In “Sock it to me” punch line, it was like having a laugh track playing in our little apartment. My mom would even prompt me to say it for her friends. They would all laugh hysterically. The only person who didn’t seem amused by it was my sister. She would scowl and roll her eyes every time. I think she was on to my little game.
I played the Billy Monkey schtick out as long as I could. Eventually my mom tired of it and these words didn’t magically exempt me from punishment. Well, it was good while it lasted.
So, I lied and it was celebrated. I think my little 3 year old mind started to understand about the “gray area” when it comes to breaking rules. Some rules you just can’t break. You can’t hurt someone else. You can’t cheat. But a little tiny broken rule here or there? As long as no one else gets hurt, it’s not too bad. The one exception to this was when I learned from a crafty preschool friend the art of biting your arm just enough to produce teeth marks. She demonstrated to me how to get someone in trouble. I watched in awe as she walked up to the teacher and tearfully showed her the bite marks while pointing to an unsuspecting child across the room. Of course the child got punished. I had no desire to use this on any of my preschool friends, but I couldn’t wait to use this to get my sister in trouble. She was three years older and was my protector and my tormentor all at the same time. She would (very convincingly) tell me that I was actually adopted and my mom wasn’t my real mom. She would give me a piece of candy and after I swallowed it she would cackle and tell me there was an ant on it and now it was going to live in my stomach and have baby ants. So, you see, this was a case of me giving her a little of her own medicine, protecting myself from my sister’s cruelty. See, gray area…
My mom fell for it, a few times. My sister got in pretty big trouble. I was heady with the power, this was a major coup against my sister who was bigger and craftier and always out-smarted me. I got too cocky, I used this trick too many times, too close together. Game over- my mom was on to my deviant ways.
For the most part I was a good kid. I never got in trouble at school. I always made good grades. I was polite, I never talked back. But I did, on occasion, push the envelope, dance on the edge of real trouble, always pulling back before things got out of control. It was always in the name of having a good time. I would never be able to do something that was mean or hurtful to someone else, but breaking the rules to have a little fun? That’s not so bad, is it?
Mom, you may want to stop reading now…
(Deep inhale) I skipped school in high school a few times. Sometimes a group of us would leave just to get something to eat. Once or twice it developed in to a full fledged party that would last until the end of the school day at someone’s house. There was the Senior Ski Trip that I miraculously convinced my parents was chaperoned. Technically, it was. One of my friends’ brother was of legal age and he and some buddies “chaperoned” about 20 of us – gray area.
There was the time my Sophomore year that my best friend and I told our parents we were going to spend the day at the local amusement park. We instead drove 3 hours to the beach to spend a few hours hanging out with our boyfriends who were there for their senior trip. We were back before dark. We did drive to the amusement park, circle in front of it and go home. So, technically we did go to the amusement park – gray area?
Then there was the time that I spent the night at my best friend’s house and we snuck out in the middle of the night to hang out with friends at the neighborhood pool. We snuck back in a few hours later, through a window we left open in her living room. We didn’t count on the dog barking furiously. We heard her mom rushing down the stairs to see why the dog was barking at 3am. We quickly threw ourselves on the living room couches and turned on the t.v. and pretended to be asleep. Her mom “woke” us up, asked us why the dog was barking… we yawned and feigned groggy confusion. She saw the open window with the drapes blowing in the breeze and ordered us upstairs to go to sleep. We woke the next day to see policemen dusting the window sill for finger prints. My friend’s mom was a wreck, thinking that someone tried to break in to her house while my friend and I slept only feet away. I quickly gathered my things and left. I felt awful. My friend called me later to say they were having a community watch meeting about the attempted break in. -I know, no gray area. This was pretty bad.
I’m not going to get in to the college years. I think those years are exempt from any kind of judgement or condemnation, right? I mean, college is a time to explore, spread your wings, push boundaries…. I loved college.
So, I think the moral of this story, for those of us who have children or may one day have them: don’t ever laugh at and/or encourage your child’s imaginary friend. They know it’s bullshit, they are just playing along and trying to be cute to get out of trouble. They will act like they think he’s real. They will insist that he needs a place to sit at the dinner table. They will work this angle and come up with stories about their “friend”. They will mess with your head and make you think that they think he/she/it is real. They will do this because they will be amazed that you are falling for it. But really they’re just being a lying little twerp. And your gullible response may just lead them down the path of fun-filled-yet-possibly-dangerous shenanigans that if my kids ever engage in any such activities I will yank them out of the world they know and ship them off to a nunnery or military school until they learn that Mom knows all the tricks and there is no gray in the world they live in, it’s all black and white and primary colors.