I was telling a story to my coworker the other day about a stupid move that the Twin and I made when we were about 7 or 8. Mom was set to pick us up outside the library at a certain time, and when that time came and went, the Twin and I were left wondering what we should do. Obviously, mommy had forgotten to pick us up. (She was probably about 5 minutes late, at that point.)
Our wise decision-making skills led us to the conclusion that we should walk home. It wasn’t very far (in our pea-sized brains, anyway) – just about 2.5 miles, or so.
So off we went. Across the big intersection (in our defense, there really only was one big one we had to cross, and we did so properly, of course – with the signal, when we had a "walk" sign and everything), and then down the little side streets that wound their way toward our home a couple of miles away. Fortunately, my mother knew loads of people in that town back then. We were also on a swim team and fairly involved in lots of other activities, and so moms and dads throughout the area were familiar with our family, and us in particular since we were "The Smith Twins" and all. It didn’t take long for a mother of a friend to recognize us, stop her car, and ask us what [the hell!] we were doing. When we explained what had happened, she knew (of course) that our mom was probably frantic with worry wondering where we were, and while I’m fuzzy on remembering what we did at that point, I think she drove us back to the library first to see if mom was still there. Regardless, we eventually caught back up with our mom, tried to explain our "logic" and "reasoning" behind starting the trek home, and were probably very lucky that mom was against spankings of any kind.
This is the kind of "sense" that one has as a child. My coworker was angry with her 8 year old son last week because he’d ridden his bike outside the boundaries she had set for him. They live in a pretty small town in Missouri, though, and she got a call from a woman that recognized her son, letting her know that he was hanging around outside the gas station she works at. When my coworker asked her son why he did what he did, his reason was simple: "Because I didn’t think I’d get caught." Huh. Well, one can’t argue with that! But the coworker assured him that they lived in a small town, and pretty much everyone knew who he was and who she was, and would let her know if they thought something "shady" was going down. Then she grounded him for 3 weeks, including taking away his bike-riding privileges. I told her the story about the Twin and I walking home when we were little so as to give her some perspective on how children sometimes don’t make the best of decisions. Her son isn’t alone. (She’s a single mom…I like to help them whenever I can seeing as I feel bad for people who have kids in the first place, much less the ones that have to raise them all alone.) I’m sure she knows that kids do stupid things, and I think she handled it really well, considering. I can’t remember if the Twin and I were ever really punished for what we’d done, it’s been so long. But we didn’t really get punished for anything, most of the time. (Except by the housekeeper. She used to smack us when we would cry when she put us down for naps. Made me cry harder, actually…but housekeepers can be dumb like that, I s’pose. She was nice the rest of the time, really.) Mom was probly just so happy that we hadn’t been kidnapped, she might’ve cooked us our favorite dinner and given us an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins that night to celebrate our survival of the Big Walk Home.
This is something that I cannot comprehend in my currently adult-sized brain. Why did we ever think it was a smart idea to start walking home? Did we really think mom forgot about us? HOW COULD WE HAVE BEEN SO VERY, VERY DUMB??? This isn’t to say that I’m perfect now and don’t make several dumb decisions every year, in fact. Last year, I made loads of them, what with the men I was choosing to date/sleep with, and the money I spent on beer and smoking. God, how I wish I could go back and change some of the decisions I’ve made throughout the years! I wonder how different things would be for me? I’ve heard it said that regret isn’t a positive or healthy thing to feel about decisions one has made, but I can’t help but feel it! I think it’s only human to feel regret when it comes to what we might see as being "a bad idea" when we’re able to look back on them several days/months/years down the line. Does it help when it comes to that certain decision we regret? Not likely. But can it help us form better decision-making skills in the future? Absolutely.
Here’s a list of things that I regret I ever did as an adult, and wish I could go back and change:
- I wish I had treated my mother better when I was a teenager.
- I wish I had chosen not to have sex with the Scientologist boyfriend that last time. In his car. Up in the hills above the Celebrity Center. (Even though it was a fun fact to be able to throw into his mother’s face when I called looking for him 2 weeks later. HA! Stupid Australian cow…)
- I wish that I had chosen to go to music school instead of getting my English degree back when I was 18 - 21 years old.
- I wish that I had been able to remain a size 8 for all these years.
- I wish that I had gone to visit the dead boyfriend on the night he died, instead of lying in bed awake all those hours wondering if I should do so.
- I wish I had not wasted all those years pining away for Doug the way I did.
- I wish I hadn’t slept with 3 of the guys I slept with last year. What a waste of time they all were!
- I wish I had enjoyed Paris more when I lived there back when I was 20. (3 months. In Paris. For FREE! WTF was wrong with me, eh?)
- I wish I’d had more guts to say what I wanted to say to the upper-management assholes at the last company I worked for. While I still worked there, I mean.
- I wish I’d known about the cheating boyfriend dating that other girl for a month before he decided to break up with me. I would’ve gotten over him much faster had I had the opportunity to kick him in the balls, I think.
- I wish I hadn’t put all my bonus money from 1997 into that stupid EA Sports stock.
- I wish I’d have sold my shares of that other stock (that I can’t remember the name of) when it hit $47, instead of waiting for it to split, and then to split again, and then to split again. I would have had $40,000. And instead I wound up with only about $12,000 when it was all said and done. And that was plain ol’ stupid, dammit.
And that’s all I can think of, for now. Time to get back to work. Because I’m a grown up, and it’s just the best decision for me at this point in time.