I know that someday you'll find better things.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Back to the Future

The writing prompt seemed fairly straight-forward, as usual.

Write about something you'd do differently if you could go back in time.

Hmm. A deep one. 

So many mistakes, so little time. How could anyone name just one?

I turned the page in her homework journal, eager to see if her regret would be consistent with my prediction. The time she and Caleb wandered off down the beach at night and nearly gave us a heart attack was surely a worthy event for this assignment.

"I wouldn't change anything because I like who I am and I'm okay with what I've done."

A good mom would have let it go. A good mom would have celebrated her second-grade daughter's cavalier perspective. But the night those two rascals got lost clearly hadn't chiseled a lasting lesson in her the way it had on me. I had a responsibility to hammer out a little bit of guilt, right?

It's the least a mediocre mom could do.

"That's very... confident...  of you, which I do admire... but I think your teacher was hoping you'd write something more... reflective."

Rare, as you've probably guessed.

"You know," she said slowly, thoughtfully, "I suppose there are a few things I could change." Hallelujah.  The kid had a conscience after all. I closed my eyes and waited for the sweet sounds of confession.

"The Civil War, for starters. And while I was back there, maybe I could be president and sort out all of Martin Luther King Jr.'s racism problems so that he wouldn't die."

This was certainly an unexpected twist of events.

"That's not really what I was trying--"  Okay, I'd tried to squish her over-confidence once. Could I really attempt to do it again and still maintain a modicum of self-respect? I did the only thing a marginal mom could do and admitted my defeat in the form of an exasperated sigh. "Nevermind. That's fine. Go ahead and write that down."

So I treated myself to my own little guilt trip while I watched her grip that pencil and...
Not write.
Not erase.
Not do much of anything. For at least two minutes. Maybe longer.

Had I broken her? Yes. 
All I'd wanted was a little bit of humility, and I'd gone and damaged the kid.
Dadgumit, if only I could go back in time.

I couldn't take it anymore.  "Why aren't you writing anything?"

"Well, I just can't do it, Mommy. I'm sorry, but this homework is asking me to think about altering the space-time continuum, and I've always been taught that you should never, ever mess with the space-time continuum. We wouldn't be who we are today if everyone could just go back and do things differently..."

I can tell you one thing that regularly defies the space-time continuum without remorse, and that is karma

I'm pretty sure I was being punished for my confidence-squishing from the moment this homework was assigned.

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