I have never been very rebellious.
I think I’m living on the edge when I choose to buy a different entree at a restaurant or decide to buy a new pair of shoes. There was one Kindergarten day, however, that I tasted rebellion. I saw the edge, and I ran to it. I danced on it. I made it mine.
It was free-time, and the teacher had turned her back. My boyfriend-of-that-week and I had finished up our very romantic activity of disecting ant brains in the corner and decided it was time to join in a little more socially acceptable fun. We went over to our friend who was playing with the memory cards, and he was nice enough to instruct us in an innovative and quite cool way to use the memory cards in another game. This was ingeniously titled “Flick the Memory Cards Across the Room.”
It was obvious that this game was an ageless classic before we even began playing. Thus with euphoria we began to flick all the cards, one by one, in large arcs across the classroom to the awe of our peers. We were heroes! We were awesome! I began to understand why people crossed socially acceptable norms! I began to see the possibilities of a life truly on the edge, the edge where games were played with the pieces of other games.
It took about 5 cards flying at break-neck speed through the kinder-air-space for the teacher to approach our table with a face that could only mean the worst punishment known to 5 year olds world-wide. Time Out. And for the first time in my life I was sentenced to engage in the shameful, silent solitude.
We were forced to sit at a table, facing away from the other kids, only able to look at the wall of times tables in shame – a public, mathematical doom. I felt I had no choice but to begin planning my funeral in my tiny, plastic chair. I knew that once the adults of my young life found out of my unforgivable sin that I would certainly pay. What would my friends think? What would my mother think? What on earth would my punishment be?
That afternoon my friend’s mom picked me up, and I swore she knew. I walked begrudgingly to my decided fate of hours hung upside-down, perhaps a brief session of water boarding, and then the worst possible option I could think of – incurable diarrhea. She must have known that I would be forever marred by my time out experience. Yet she didn’t say anything.
I wasn’t fooled, though. I knew she was taunting me in her head. Reading into every silence and jumping at every sound I began to deflate. I soon became the blubbering mess of paranoia and guilt that my mother picked up when she got off work.
I sloshed around in the car feeling sorry for myself waiting for the news of my social blunder to come forth. What kind of mother was she? She should have unleashed indescribable wrath by this point! The teacher must have contacted her of my transgressions! I then decided that if she wasn’t going to be the adult she should be that I needed to take over. I needed to tell the world what I had done!
She then began to laugh! Laugh I tell you! Here I was dying of guilt and shame, and she found it humorous.
I was dumbfounded.
My mother later took pity and explained that she was entirely pleased with herself for having trained me to punish myself like a very simple dog. (It still works. I haven’t lived with her for years and still call to randomly confess wrong-doings.)
And as for the time out? She didn’t care at all.