You know when you are thinking back to your childhood and you did something and now you regret it. You maybe even regretted it a minute after you did it but over time, you just forgot about it because, well you were a child and childish things are usually not too important. Those little regrets get lost in a sea or real worries but once in a while you think back because somehow they were a big deal after all.
I have this today. I had a shower and suddenly those two incidents just came back to me and I am so sorry. Now, at 31 years old. I am so sorry for that one time when I was 9 and that one time when I was 11.
Here are my two regrets that I am still so sorry about and there is just no way to make them good.
- My great grand mother:
I was about 9 or so. And my great grand mother had moved in with my grand parents because she had gotten Alzheimers and wasn’t in a state to live alone any longer.
What I understood was, that her brain was going backwards. In her mind she started forgetting the recent things and would only remember earlier and earlier things of her life. So she would forget about me very early on. I wasn’t mad about it. My mom had explained it to me and I was very kind and understanding.
So when I was at my grand mother’s house, we usually played some board games. And my grand mother had this box with different dice. One of them only had the number 1 on each side.
So I decided to play a trick on my great grand mother and gave her that dice to play. She didn’t notice of course.
I think that evening I had a bit of a mean streak because after playing, when my grand mother was making dinner in the next room, I also pulled out my tongue (something I usually never did) to my great grand mother. She in returned complained but I was acting like nothing had happened so it was just credited to her Alzheimers.
I felt so bad about it just minutes later.
I think it was my own way to see how far I can push the boundaries and I never did something like those two things again but I feel very sorry about it nowadays. I cannot say sorry to my great grand mother as she died about 3 years later. And telling anybody about it would be weird, this many years later.
- The pen-pal:
When I was 11 there were only two children living in the house where I lived. The other child lived right next door. Apparently she had a pen-pal. It was that time, when there was no internet for normal people. We are talking 1995 here. So if you wanted to talk to people from somewhere else, you would get a pen-pal.
One day I noticed a big letter that did not fit right in the box of the neighbour’s girl and it had her name on it. So I pulled it out of the box just to look and feel it. I never received packages or even letters or cards. From whom anyway? So I just got very curious and upon feeling, that there is something like a book in there, I just opened it without thinking to see what book it is.
At that point I might have gotten a bit jealous or something. I looked through it and it was one of these friendship books that have little questionaires and a spot for you to write a nice thing and a put a photo. So her pen-pal had sent this to her so she could put herself in it and send it back. It was a very common practice back then to have a little book like this and give it to all your friends, family, classmates, and even teachers. It would, in the end, always be a nice collection of memories.
I think that fact, that at that moment she had someone to do this with and I did not, was what got me jealous. I ripped the book apart and threw it away.
Never told anybody either because I knew how bad this was and that I should not have done it. I did not want to get in trouble and if I would just be quiet about it, they would think the post lost it or something.
Again, nowadays I feel very sorry. I destroyed a book full of nice memories of a child I didn’t even know, just because I was jealous.
There are always more things. Especially during your childhood. I have tons of little stories where I am wondering why I did the things I did.
But childhood is for making mistakes and learning from them.
- I remember beating a girl up just because she annoyed me once – that was when I was 10 or so.
- I remember stealing chocolate bars just because they looked so nice – I think I was 10 then as well.
- I remember stealing coins from my teacher’s purse to by sweets – same age.
- I remember secretly taking 1DM from my mom’s purse on Sunday mornings before church so I could have ice cream.
- I remember smashing old empty bottles in a old factory once.
In retrospective, between 9 and 12 years old, I had a very rough patch in life – rougher than it had usually been. So I think I acted up a lot and tested boundaries more than I would have in a normal situation.
The good thing is, I learnt from all of these mistakes. I was a smart kid and understood why the things I did were wrong and how I could have done better. Most of the time, I tried to make things right and that is why I usually didn’t get in real trouble. I would normally come forward on my own or just get caught at some point. But I would always stand to what I did and take the punishment or whatever was to come.
Children need to be allowed to make mistakes, test boundaries, learn how life works, learn to deal with feeling bad about what you did, learn to make things right, learn why rules are in place and why it is important to respect them – learn to think before doing things.
There is stuff you cannot teach from books.
And learning from your mistakes is one of those things.