Monday, March 12, 2012

True confessions

My children think of me as a paragon of uprightness, or at least a naïve innocent who must be protected from knowledge of their naughtier misdeeds. But my own sins are many and shocking, at least to me. Sometimes when I lie awake at night awaiting sleep, I mull them over and feel my shame anew. 

There was a little girl named Wendy who lived near me when we were in elementary school. She was sweet and well groomed and very popular. I was not so much of those. Nonetheless Wendy would invite me to her house, where we would eat a peculiar delicacy: Wonderbread, with the crusts cut off, rolled into little balls. I can’t tell you how delicious these were to an 10-year-old raised in a whole-wheat-bread-only household. Her stay-at-home mother was pretty and kind. The house was sunny and bland. 

I liked Wendy. I really did. So I have no idea why I created a pencil-and-paper newspaper dedicated to chronicling how horrible she was. It was several pages long and had satirical drawings of Wendy picking her nose (which I never saw her actually do) or wearing ugly clothes (ditto). I showed this hatemongering rag to our mutual classmates, and eventually it came to the attention of my fourth-grade teacher. It was only when my teacher confronted me that I had a moment of clarity, or rather confusion. Why on earth had I done such a vicious thing to someone so blameless? I really couldn’t answer Miss Butcher (her real name).

Looking back, I suppose it must have been envy for Wendy’s Wonderbread existence: the pretty clothes, the clean house, the nice mother, the processed food—and maybe even the social courage she showed in inviting a girl of lesser status to her home. 


Robin Amos Kahn said...

Wow, it's hard for me to believe you even did such a thing - and yet it makes me love you even more.

I once was part of a group of girls who confronted a girl (we considered to be well, too slutty) and I know that I was jealous of her because she was so popular. I think it was in 8th grade. I felt so horrible afterward and I did apologize to her years later at a high school reunion. She claimed she didn't remember the incident, but I still feel tremendous shame for my part in it.

Mia said...

Every sleepless night yields more of these memories. The girlhood ones are bad enough, but then there are the parenting ones! Egad!