When I was a kid – 7? 8? – my mom stayed home sick from work one day. She spent seven hours cleaning and reorganizing my closet, she resentfully informed me when I came home from school. As I hadn’t asked her to waste her sick day on my closet I didn’t understand her anger, and so was irritated with her in return.
That night, in my freshly-cleaned room with beautifully organized closet, I found an errant crayon. It was very large (like a jumbo Crayola), quite old, and dark red. I didn’t have any paper handy, and knowing better than to deface a book, I tried out the crayon on my carpet.
It started out small and quickly escalated. The carpeting was mottled light green and yellow, a short shag. I remember wondering if I could color the carpet completely red with the crayon, and then proceeded to try it. It was a fit of childhood madness – an idea takes hold and you quickly do it, never thinking about that next step.
Suddenly, I looked down and it hit me that I had just colored a 5×2″ area of carpeting dark red. Panic set in, and I did what every kid does when looking at something they just destroyed: I put a stuffed animal on top of it.
My misdeed was discovered at bedtime, when my mother picked up the stuffed animal laying in the middle of an otherwise empty floor. Rage ensued, so bad that my father joined the party. As she scrubbed the carpet, fruitlessly trying to erase all traces of red from the green and yellow, she ranted at me. Why did I do this? Why? Why???
I remember sitting on the floor, heart pounding, quietly responding, “I don’t know.” I couldn’t tell her that I did it on purpose, that I was trying to change the color of the floor. She’d never understand such reasoning.
My father was lounging across the room, with a humored expression. He was usually the strong disciplinarian so his presence in the room when I was so clearly in Big Trouble was quite unnerving. “I expect she just wanted to,” he said. I was stunned. How did he know?? That set her off even worse, the idea that I had done it on a whim.
Most of my childhood memories are lost, or at best, hazy. This is one of the few I remember clearly. In the past two days I have found S doing odd things, bordering on destruction. When I asked why she was doing it, she apologized and said, “I don’t know.”
I don’t know.
I expect she does these things because she wants to.
I see so much of myself in her it is scary. The day she re-colors a carpet just because she found a lone, unused crayon is coming. I can feel it.
My mom is going to laugh her butt off when it happens.