Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Life in a Box, Part 3

Last summer my mother gave me my box, the box of all the stuff she had collected from my childhood days. It was going to be a scrapbook, but Mom had saved way too much stuff and had way too many kids, so our scrapbooks turned into big plastic boxes. And that's okay with me. I just think it's great that she thought to tuck away all the mementos and memorabilia for me to share with my own kids.

That's me, the little guy in the red striped shirt, the youngest of eight. I think Pete took the picture. Sorry so fuzzy. It's a picture of a copy of a picture. If you would like to catch the first two installments, you can find them here.

My Life in a Box, Part 1
My Life in a Box, Part 2

Most of what Mom saved about my childhood was very positive and encouraging, even kind of cute, I guess. But I did find an exception or two in my box. I found a deficiency report that I had brought home to my parents during my 9th grade year in Windsor. Apparently, I had quite an attitude as a freshman in high school, since my math teacher checked off seven of the nine categories of bad behavior. Check it out. Seven out of nine categories. That's embarrassing.

Seems like most of us go through a rebellious phase as teenagers, some sooner, some later, some wilder than others, pushing the envelope, sowing our wild oats, whatever you want to call it. I guess I did my part, too.

My math teacher would probably be stunned to know that I am not writing this from Leavenworth or San Quentin. And he would never believe that I finished college, let alone a masters and a doctorate.

So, why did Mom hang on to that stupid deficiency slip? Nothing cute about that, just kind of a poke in the chest that says, "Hey, remember what an annoying, cocky kid you were? Thought you never would grow up."

No, that's not like Mom, to be harping on my past failures. And I know she never gave up on me or her high expectations for all of her children. Perhaps she had a different agenda in mind, a long-term plan to give me a healthy dose of humility and a little more understanding with my own children when they would stretch the limits of my patience. I think she knew I would need it.

So, on an evening long ago when she would rather have wrung my teenage neck, instead my mom tucked away this future reminder for me to find just when I would need it. And I'll bet she was smiling when she did it.

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