Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Dish Towel Incident of 1988

We had a big Island in the middle of our kitchen in my parents house. That was pretty much the kitchen anyway, but none the less. We always had a dishwasher too. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. However, even if it was working, it was almost guaranteed that mama had one or several dish towels laid out on the open space next to the sink, because there were always at least a few dishes that ended up getting washed by hand.

Mama didn't throw things away either. There was a cycle of things. When it came to towels, they went out in the bathroom first, then the kitchen as towels she used to wipe her hands every 15 minutes while cooking, then as dish towels. I remember a certain set very vividly. They were, at one time, white with frayed edges, with purple and blue flowers on them with green leaves. I hadn't known a day when they weren't in the house somewhere, so they must have been pretty old.

Every day when I got home from school, I was to call mama at work and let her know I was home. She'd make sure that Tita from down the street was there to watch us, tell me what I could have for snack, and ask me how school was. Since it was 1988, our phone was attached to a wall and had a cord. As I would talk to her, I'd lean up against the island where the dishes would be laid out from the night before to dry.

One day when I was about 8 years old, while on the phone with my mama, I was fiddling with one of the dish towels with the purple and blue flowers on it. I noticed there was a hole in it from all the years of use. So, without thinking, I stuck my finger in it. It was so old and tattered that it just made a little "riiip noise. The feeling of the fabric ripping and the sound it made, made me giggle. So I did it again. And again. The next day, I noticed a pair of scissors laying on the counter so I picked them up. I pinched the fabric together and "Snip!" all while on the phone. Never dawning on me that what I Was doing was wrong, or that mama would find it and get mad.

The next day when I got up and went into the kitchen, there was my mom standing with the dish towel in one hand and her other hand on her hip. I was in trouble. She asked me if I did it. Why I did it. What made me think it was ok. What if she came in my room and cut up my things, etc, etc. I cried and cried and cried. This was by far the worst thing I had ever done in my whole life.

As punishment, mama made me take three whole weeks worth of my $3 dollar a week allowance, of which I had to BEG to start getting in the first place, and buy new dish towels. What was worse, was each week, she'd hand me the three dollars and I had to go put it in an envelope on top of the microwave. Then, we had to go to the store and mama picked out her dish towels, and I handed the cashier my money. It was a hard, and extremely humbling and embarrassing lesson to learn not to touch, let alone purposely destroy, other people's things. No matter how old and ragged.

I thought of this story today as I was brushing my hair. We just had had a morning of tears and punishment.

Yesterday when I came home from work, I noticed scraps of something in my decorative dish I have sitting on a table in my utility room. It was weird to me, because I am neurotic about stuff like that. I was in the middle of something else and my brain was going a million miles an hour, and so I pushed it off to the back corner of my mind.

This morning, as I was preparing my coffee, I happened to look over at the side of the fridge. At one time, I had a bunch of my pictures of family and friends up there. They all disappeared, for like a day, and then reappeared on the front of the fridge. I didn't think anything of it because I used to rearrange the fridge magnets, papers, and pictures as a kid all the time. However, there was one picture still left on the side (I'm assuming because there wasn't really any more room left on the front). It was the Christmas card/picture my brother and his then pregnant girlfriend sent out to all of us last Christmas. Someone had cut the corners off.

Here's why I noticed it, because really, it was supposed to look like a "gift tag" and the way it was cut, was typically how they do that. The picture had my brother and his girlfriend framed in a white frame, and the rest of the picture was the "card" part of it. The white "frame" was cut so that the sides of the frame didn't come to a point. AND, I instantly remembered the scraps I found in the dish. I remembered it looked like someone was cutting pictures. I went and got the scraps (thank Goodness for my OCD being on a "break" for once lol), and sure enough they matched up.

I asked who the guilty party was and no one wanted to confess. I asked several times, reminding them all that the punishment for lying is worse than the crime most of the time, and still. Crickets. We're all innocent here. So, I grounded all of them. No TV, No MP3 players or radios, no books, No hand held games, no going anywhere other than school, not even outside, no snacks. They will go to school, come home, scrub the house from top to bottom until dinner. They will eat, and then go to bed (with no TV, radio, nothing), and do it all again the next day. This will continue until someone confesses. Still nothing. I text bee and informed him so he would be aware. He called and spoke with each one, who once again proclaimed their innocence profusely. While he was on round two on interrogations, C came up to me and confessed. This is the second time she pulled a stunt like this. First time being the "Painting of Bee's helmet Incident,  Circa 2010".

Bee grounded her every which way a person can be grounded, and promised more punishment when he got home. He reminded her that lying is the most severe of her crimes, and it will hold the most severe of the punishments. He also reminded her what lying got her mother (oh! Snap!). After he got off the phone, I was still heated. My picture wasn't ruined, but it was the principal. I let her have it some more. She was crying so hard she had snot bubbles. I walked away and went into the bathroom to brush my hair...Then I remembered the dish towels.

I walked back out into the other room where her had was down on the table and she was soaking her sweatshirt with her tears. I walked over to her and gave her a big hug. I told her it was ok, I still loved her, and we all do dumb things. Sometimes we don't even know why, other than "it was there, it felt like a good idea". Lying is never the answer. She so wants to be grown and be apart of adult conversations and hang out with the adults, but she is still such a kid. However, part of becoming grown, is learning that when we do something wrong, we need to confess. Especially when someone calls us on the carpet about it, because Lying is never ok.

But, the most important lesson that I hope she doesn't learn is, If you do something wrong, hide the evidence, because had I not seen the scraps, I probably would have never thought twice when I saw the picture! ;)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

What a great lesson for C to learn, especially combined with the story from when you were a kid. Discipline, understanding and unconditional love...that is an unbeatable combination. Good job, Joy!