When I was very young I thought that the tails side of a penny featured the trolley from the Neighborhood of Make Believe.
When I was very young I thought that monkeys imprisoned in off-site towers operated the traffic lights. Someone had to control them, after all, and flipping switches at set intervals all day, every day would be too boring of a job for people, so: monkeys. Obviously.
When I was very young I thought that a bear lived in the cedar closet at the bottom of our staircase. My dad asked me once why I always ran up the stairs instead of walked. “I don’t know,” I answered, but I was thinking, “Well, because of the bear. Obviously.”
When I was very young I thought that old folks were wrinkled because everyone grows an additional layer of skin every year. Can eighty layers of skin lie smooth? Of course not. They naturally bunch up, creating wrinkles.
When I was young I thought that quicksand was an omnipresent danger. Every sand pile and patch of dirt was suspect. Keep to the sidewalk everybody, lest you sink helplessly into the ground!
When I was young I thought that nothing of inferior literary quality could be published. When I’d try to read a stilted or plotless book, I’d slow down or re-read parts, searching for hidden meaning or cleverly understated character development. Surely I must be missing something, because nobody would publish a poorly-written book. (Right?)
When I was young I thought that adults could be trusted to have kids’ best interests at heart. And that adults were never petty. And that adults always knew exactly what to do.
When I was young I thought that the sovereignty inherent in adulthood (the freedom to choose what to eat, for example, or to rent unlimited VHS tapes from Blockbuster, or to skip one’s chores if one felt like it) would eclipse any day-to-day adult hardships—assuming such hardships even existed.
I once thought that any baby could be easily trained to sleep through the night. (Certain books really ought to come with disclaimers; that’s all I have to say about that.)
I once thought that any child whose whining was not accommodated would quickly cease to whine. (I know, I know. Go ahead—point and laugh!)
I once thought that only someone who had been sappy since birth would tear up at her child singing “Away in a Manger” at the Christmas program, or bounding into school on his first day, or offering her a dandelion or tulip head picked “just for you, Mommy!”
And I once thought that I would be upset if my child beheaded the only surviving tulip in the yard.
As it turns out, I’ve often been wrong. And I still am. I still find myself on the trolley headed toward the Neighborhood of Make Believe once in a while. (The trolley that, in case you are wondering, I realize is not the subject of a penny’s tail.) To wit:
Expecting that late-onset elegance will wash over me any day now.
Believing that it’s okay to pass judgment on others.
Supposing that one of these days, my house will become perfectly (or even mostly) organized.
Thinking that extra patience will descend on me so that, with no effort on my own part, I will always speak calmly to Sonny and Ace.
Presuming that lecturing and nagging my kids will in any way be fruitful. (Doesn’t everyone just love to be lectured?)
Assuming that there will always be some other day for me to let people dear to me know how much I care about them.
I’ve come a long way since fearing a bear in the cedar closet, but I guess I still believe some pretty weird things.
What weird things have you believed?