Thursday 24 March 2022

Unless you broke a window

“It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur, and to seek to restore honor”. Unless you just broke a window and a really large gentleman is threatening to beat you up. In that case, run!
- Uncle Iroh

I remember that as a child, it was always important to own up when you did something wrong. It was a good theory, but the practice was not so good.

I never was a big fan of using the toilet as a young child. It was a lot of faff that required breaking off the concentration of whatever I was doing at the time. It was prime for procrastination. Why go to the toilet now when I can go later? So I procrastinated. Why procrastinate tomorrow when I can procrastinate right now!? I procrastinated with vigour, right away, with exceeding great diligence.

But you know how it is. If you procrastinate this sort of thing once, you have to procrastinate it again five minutes later, and then again soon after that. Such procrastination requires increasing and more-intrusive concentration to sustain. A slight lapse of mental effort can be followed by instant regret, and a young child then needs help to clean up the mess.

Even after months of careful practice, a young lad can misjudge when he is no longer going to be able to sustain the necessary concentration.

On one occasion I remembered that my mum had told I should just tell her, and not try to hide it, so I told her.

In return for my frank forthrightness, I received a smack on the bottom. I wasn't impressed and reminded my mum what she told me. I wasn't convinced by her response though I could see the logic: "Well I would have smacked you twice if you hadn't told me!" 

Even the best parents have their off-days.

But the problem with owning up, is that if you don't do it right away, you also get in trouble for not owning up, with the inquisition: "Why didn't you own up?" and you have to own up to that if you can understand why you didn't.

The answer which I can articulate only now but which I knew instinctively then was: because I wanted to avoid the sort of inquisition you are now putting me to.

Yes, if you don't own up right away you are better off sticking to your story, and just don't do whatever it was next time. 

And then there is the time I actually broke the glass, of a picture, of Jesus, praying.

I broke it with a ball. I didn't commit the common-or-garden sin of playing with a ball in the house.

I simply had the ball in my hand. I was cross at something, something so trivial compared with the self-inflicted mental trauma which followed, that I can't remember what it was.

But whatever it was helped me justify expressing my annoyance by striking the picture on the wall with the ball in my hand. There!

And the glass cracked. And I was probably over the age of eight so I wasn't going to get any kind of free pass.

And no amount of pleas or entreaties, or vain promises to never be naughty again for the rest of my life persuaded Heavenly Father to mend the picture. He could do it if he wanted to. I suppose he didn't want to. Didn't he know what a bargain he was missing?

And so it stayed broken. And there I was! Ketched!

I don't think Heavenly Father had any difficulty fixing glass or getting as much glass as he wanted. 

I think what he wanted was for me to learn to trust my parents.

I think the kindest thing my parents did then was to fix the picture without the inquisition.

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