My Mom brought up something I wrote when I was in second grade last weekend. She loves bringing it up as one of her proudest moments as a Mother. It is a dissertation that has haunted me my whole entire life.
I have always been a writer. As soon as I could form words into sentences I was writing little books and plays. I won the Young Authors contest for my region every year I was eligible.
So when the principal came into our class with the announcement that there would be a writing contest sponsored by a big newspaper, I was pretty confident that I was a shoo in. It was for Mother's Day, and the topic was "Why My Mom is the Best Mom in the World."
The prize was a dream come true for a 2nd Grader. Unlimited rides at Kiddie Land for one day.
Oh I had to win! I put pencil to wide ruled brown paper and wrote something close to the following words, as I've tried my whole life to forget it.
Why My Mom is the Best Mom in the World
My Mom is the best Mom in the world because she loves me more then anything. She punishes me when I am bad to. If she did not love me she would not punish me. She does it because she wants me to know right from wrong and be a good adult. It is hard for her to punish me, but she does it anyway so that I will be successful when I am grown up.
Cute story right? Did I win? You bet your ass I won. My Mom and I were on the front page of the paper on Mother's Day, accepting my award. My essay was prominently displayed next to it.
My Mom was so proud. I "got" it, right?
Oh how wrong, how very, very wrong she was. I was a manipulative suck ass sell out that told them exactly what they wanted to hear, so that I would get my day at Kiddie Land.
I remember that day. I remember what I was thinking. Adults will be reading this...yeah...yeah...What would an adult like to hear a kid say?? Ah ha! My Mom was always telling me she punished me for my own good. I'll just put that in there...
Kim G was the only one I was worried about. She was pretty smart, and was a natural suck ass. I had to try harder, as it didn't come natural to me. So I sucked as much ass as humanly possible in one essay.
So I deliberately lied in that essay to win. I even drew little hearts for all the dots on the I's. This was a conscious decision too, by the way. Total unadulterated manipulation.
There is a problem with selling out though, and over the years I learned that lesson well. Whenever I wanted to protest about a punishment, my Mom would tell me to remember that fucking essay.
I may have been a manipulative, suck ass sell out, but I wasn't a heartless bastard. To this day I've never had the heart to tell my Mom that I just manipulated the fuck out of everyone to be able to ride the tilt-a-whirl as many times as I wanted in a day.
My Mom had that damn article in the paper framed, and I used to fantasize about burning it in the fireplace. If it went away, maybe she'd forget about it. Anytime I'd get close to chucking it down the garbage disposal, my damn conscience would stop me.
I don't know which was worse-having that damn thing thrown in my face when I was punished, or feeling guilty that my Mom was so damn proud.
I try to remember this when I am working on a writing project. While selling out could have immediate benefits, it's just not worth it if it bites you in the ass for years to come.