Like most healthy adults, I feel guilty sometimes. Not just for the bad things I do, but also for the list of things I could do, or should do but I don’t. Most of which I am not even aware of until my wife points them out to me.
We’re all just guilty. Some say that we are guilty even from the womb – we are born with an innate desire to rebel.
Those of us who are parents can back this up 100 percent with stories of the first defiant acts of our precious children. It’s funny that all of those stories share just about the same plot: Your little angel is old enough to understand the meaning of the word “No!” yet she goes ahead and sticks her hand in the toilet anyways. Somehow, she still manages to maintain very sharp eye contact with you as she is performing her defiant act, along with a sly look on her face that you have never noticed before – an expression far beyond the eighteen months of her life. “Where on earth did she learn this?” you are thinking to yourself. And right then and there, you know without question that evil was simply bred in her seed.
I was mostly a very good boy as a child. However, I have retained a particularly vivid memory of the first really wicked thing that I did of my own volition, which proves that evil, sin, and cruelty is entirely bred into our DNA.
I was about four years old. My sister was a year older, and she and her friend Sally Gardner were playing in the yard outside our house on a beautiful summer day. Our lawn was spotted with dozens of dandelions, and it was far enough along into the summer that the pretty yellow sticky flowers had been reduced to the fluffy seed pods that would soon blow into the neighbor’s lawn, where they would reproduce their evil weedness. My siblings and I would frequently pick the white dandelions and blow the fluffy seeds into the wind and watch them float away on the summer’s breeze, as most kids will do. But on that fateful day, as we were all outside playing, I picked a dandelion and instead of blowing away the seeds I received a Vision for an entirely new and different thing to do with those fluffy dandelion tendrils. It involved my sister. It was brilliant, and I acted on it immediately.
I bent down and picked the stem of the biggest, fluffiest dandelion I could find, heavy with the burden of the thousands of spores clinging to its head. I held it behind my back and walked up to my sister.
“I have a trick.” I said. “It’s magic.”
“Yeah?” she replied, intrigued. She stopped whatever she was doing, and glanced at her friend. A trick will be fun, she’s thinking. And my brother is such a Good Boy.
“Here’s what you do. First you have to close your eyes.” She looks at Sally Gardner, and her friend nods with approval and eager anticipation.
“Ok, my eyes are shut.”
“Tight! You can’t look.”
“OK!” She’s pressing her eyelids together so hard that her face is all puckered up.
“Next you have to open your mouth real big while we get ready to say the magic words.”
Her mouth opens into a beautiful oval with perfectly white five-year old teeth. Her pretty brown hair is twitching with the wind. She obediently waits for the next instruction. I bring the dandelion right up to her face, real close.
Then, as hard as I can, without any further warning, I blow all the seeds into her mouth. Her eyes burst open wide. She starts choking.
I didn’t really think about what would happen next. Sally Gardner glares over at me, horrified, shocked. My sister starts spitting and crying as she grasps at the realization that she has just been absolutely betrayed by her brother. Fiercely angry, she screams that she is telling on me and bolts for the house with her friend running behind, comforting her.
Honestly, I thought it would be clever and funny. And, yes, a little mean. That was part of the fun. Only I hadn’t anticipated the consequences.
She has probably forgotten about it by now.