Naughty and nice…

So last week I started my 5-week ‘Writing for Children’ course at the Sydney Writer’s Centre. Nice small class & eclectic mix of people, including an ex-policeman, a lawyer, a retiree and a TV crew girl…guess there are a lot of aspiring authors out there, all hiding under our “day jobs”! ;-)

And for our homework the first week, we were asked to call up a vivid memory from our childhood – and write it as if it was a scene in a children’s book.

Well, I wracked my brains and came up with one of my earliest memories of life in the UK: a visit to London Zoo, in particular to the “children’s petting zoo” area…where I disobeyed my mother and sneaked off by myself to have a look at the ponies in the stables…and one of them took a chomp at my arm. Enough to bring up a perfect half-moon of purple, teeth-shaped bruises on my little 6yr old bicep…but I swallowed my tears and never told my mother, in spite of being in terrible pain for days afterwards.

The thing is, it wasn’t so much the pain (although that was pretty bad! You know the kind of pain when your heart suddenly races in your chest and you feel like your eyes are bulging out? ;-) ) – but more the whole thing of not wanting to be found out that I had been “naughty”.

I don’t know if 6-yr olds understand “pride” but I think that is sort of what it was. My mother had always warned me that if I was naughty and disobeyed, Something Bad would happen to me…and I was determined not to give her the chance to say “I told you so” – even at the expense of not having her comfort me and help me relieve the pain. (Thinking about it now, it was a good thing the bite hadn’t broken skin and wasn’t a more serious injury as it could have gotten dangerously infected!!)

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the other times I was “naughty” and got caught out.  OK, I have to admit – I can pretty much count them on the fingers of one hand because – I hate to say it – but I was one of those nauseating “goody-goody” kids who always followed the rules and did what they were told.

In fact, when I was 8yrs old and we lived in the U.S., I attended a Catholic school in a little town in New Jersey – and I used to really struggle when we had our obligatory ‘confession’ with the school priest every week…I had nothing to confess! I used to cast desperately around, trying to dredge up one respectable “sin” that I could report and more often than not, resorted to making things up to tell the priest (“I thought nasty thoughts about my little sister”), as I didn’t want to disappoint the him or face the embarrassment of being the only one in my class with nothing to confess…

I mean, come on, let’s face it – the average life of an 8yr old doesn’t exactly lend itself to a wild life of crime. And I was the kind of 8yr old who still believed in unicorns and Disney fairytales and whose biggest ambition was to grow my hair as long as the ground, so that I could be a “real princess”. Yeah.

Still, there was one naughty “sin” I never confessed to the priest because I was just too embarrassed to be caught out. But first I have to tell you a dirty, little secret: when I was a child, I used to love picking my nose. Nothing beat the furtive pleasure of rooting around in my nostrils when I thought nobody was looking. Of course, I was seen by my parents once or twice and warned that if I continued my nasal excavations, I would end up with a huge nosebleed.

Of course, I ignored them – and of course, they were right. One day, I brought them running with my screams as blood gushed out of my nose and down my chin.

“You were picking your nose, weren’t you?” My mother demanded.

“N-no,” I said, tearfully. “I – I wasn’t.”

“Then how did this happen? I told you…I know you were picking your nose again.”

“I wasn’t! I wasn’t!” I insisted, near hysterical now but still stubborn.

Well, the tears and blood were wiped up and all was forgotten until a few days later when I was sitting with my parents in the living room, bored as they watched a programme on TV. My little fingers wandered absently up to my nose…then I caught my father (stepfather) staring pointedly at me. Quickly, I dropped my hand again. But old habits die hard and the longer I sat there, the more the urge ate away at me. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I just had to find a way to defy them.

I don’t know who it was who always went on about the “innocence of children” – I don’t remember being that innocent myself. At any rate, I was capable of thinking up pretty cunning deceptive behaviour from an early age.  Getting up as nonchalantly as I could, I mumbled something about getting something to eat and pretended to wander off to the kitchen – but instead, ducked into one of the bedrooms. There, in the dark, I sat down and blissfully stuck my finger up my nose, delighting not only in being able to indulge in my favourite past time again but also in outsmarting my parents…

Then I heard someone behind me. I turned around. My father stood there.

I braced myself for the telling-off but instead, he leaned towards me and said drily, “Shall I get you a spoon?”

Well, that was the last day I ever picked my nose again. ;-)

So go on – tell me – do you remember the earliest times you were naughty or disobeyed your parents? Did you get in trouble??

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23 thoughts on “Naughty and nice…

  1. Ooh, tough one….. ’cause, yeah, I was pretty much a goody-goody too :-).

    I did go through a period when I was about 7 or 8 when I didn’t want to take a bath — pretty funny now since I’m almost obsessive about baths and consider a tub and heated, running water two of life’s biggest necessities ;-). Anyway, I used to try to fake my mother out by running water in the tub and wetting the washcloth so it sounded and looked like I’d taken a bath. But of course she figured it out. Eventually, my father had to sit me down and give me a brief lecture about cleanliness and hygene. Didn’t take too long before my natural self-conscious tendencies took over and I got back in the tub.

    Other than that, can’t think of much else, except being a bit spoiled and having a tendency to whine….. Um, does sneaking into my mother’s closet to take a full inventory of my Christmas presents before they were wrapped count? ;-)

  2. If you had been my child I would have given you a tissue or handkerchief to use on your nose to get out whatever was there. (I like picking my nose too, but it’s not a good habit, so I run for a tissue.)

    Just like you got bit by a pony, I got burned by a cigarette lighter I was playing with. It was a nasty blistered up burn, but I did not tell anyone because I was too ashamed.

    Bad habits? Well, probably snacking on stuff. As a child I was eating more than my share. I was overweight as a little girl, and often helped myself to cookies or crackers if I felt bored. I still feel that way. If I’m out in public where there is a plate of something good for a group I have to hold myself back. It doesn’t seem like I want too much, rather it seems like the other people just aren’t eating it fast enough!

    My younger brother had problems. I expected him to be like me, even with me being older, so I was not always kind. I did not understand his limitations. I have since forgiven myself. I wish someone had set a better example of how to be kind to him. In spite of my child like ways, I always loved him and I hope he knows that.

    • Oh Dorothy – believe me – my mother DID give me lots of tissues & handkerchiefs with strict instructions to use them! But you’re missing the point – that would be nowhere near as fun as using your fingers!! ;-) Well, to a 6yr old anyway!

  3. ok, so this isn’t me being naughty (as in, I don’t think I ever got in trouble for this) but its definitely a picking the nose story. When I was 8, my parents took a sabbatical to Paris, France for the summer. I remember NOTHING from the summer (so sad!) except this: when we were walking on the streets, I used to look furtively around me, and if I thought no one was looking, I’d pick my nose and wipe my boogers on the buildings. The implications of this are awesome–I mean, my boogers might STILL be on the eiffel tower even today, which would be prettty cool. Although hopefully, it gets a good clean every few years because little girls like me exist. :-)

    • HA! HA! HA! Oh my God – the image of this had me cracking up!! Just think of all those beautiful, heritage-listed buildings around Paris, all sporting little “gifts” from children around the world!!! :lol:

  4. Oh, I have a dozy of a tale. The earliest memory I have was visiting a Kmart with my mother and grandmother when I was about 4. I apparently had a habit of wandering just out of sight but never too far, but this time I did. So while my mother hysterically had the store put in lockdown I had wandered to another section of the store. This was before stores has cameras all over the place inside, usually the cameras were at the doors and around the outside if a store had them. So my poor mother is worried and searching the store with clerks and I turn around the corner, on a plastic low rider three wheeled bike with a posse of people chasing me, they apparently didn’t have a lot of walkies at that store either. I rode the bike right up to my mother. I don’t remember if I was punished for it but I do remember I went home with the bike. When I asked my mother when I was older what happened in that memory and why I got the bike in the end she could never give me a straight answer, she was always laughing too much at the memory of me givings’strangers a merry little chase around the store. ~.^

  5. Oh, you are cracking me up. The first time I went to confession, I lied! I could think of nothing to confess. I, too, told the priest that I was mean to my sister! I never, ever went to confession again. Surely, I will go to hell for lying in confession. :)

    • Oh Sara – I hadn’t thought of that! That would have given me something to tell the priest in my next confession – that I had lied and made things up for my last one!! ;-)

      • Oh no i would not advise to do that… I did tell the priest that i did not sin, and i got into a lot of trouble because apparently i was being vain and proud… I am so glad forced confessions are condemned nowadays! I don’t think children are angels but i don’t think we should consider them vile either !!!

  6. One of my earliest memories of getting in *serious trouble* with my Dad was for putting a little plastic disc from a game in my mouth. (choking hazard!!) I had to be 3-4 years old and must’ve been caught several times for the same thing. My memory is of my angry Dad towering over me, demanding to know if I had something in my mouth. I told him no while simultaneously spitting the disc in my hand and dropping it immediately. In the silence that followed you could hear it ping, ping, ping-ing across the wood floor. Shoot….I was so busted. Haha. I don’t even remember my punishment, but I am pretty sure there was one. :)

  7. Hahaha! I loved the story! Well I also had that bad habit when I was about 6, but my dad always told me not to because it would get me sick from sticking my germ covered hands into my nose. Well, to hide the evidence, I would stash my boogers by sticking them on the underside of the couch. When I was 8, we got a new couch, and my dad was HORRIFIED when he was lifting the couch and got a handful of dried boogers **facepalm**
    That was the most embarrassing day of my life.

  8. Hahahahha! Wow I love all these stories; so funny! I was like you, a goody goody, I still am. Haha. But yes like you I liked to pick my boogers. I mean when u have that feeling in your nose you need to get that booger out. Once you get the booger out, your nose is relieved. Wow keep up the halarious work! I love these posts!

    • Posted on Haha, Sarah, you’re hilarious and I love it! Honestly, it doesn’t even maettr that they leave my name out when all the cool kids on the internet mention me! We know who has more street cred!XOXOFelicia

  9. I was one of the goody-goody too – but, one day, when I was about 5 or 6, I was having a sleepover at my cousin Jeremy (who was like my brother because we were almost raised together – living in two different houses but in the same street), and we were talking in bed at night about what we’ll do when we’ll get older.

    I told him I wanted to become a singer or a dancer and he said “well, I’d like to be a fireman – in Paris.”

    ” In Paris ? what do you mean in Paris ? Does it means you’d have to live in Paris then if you are a fireman in Paris?”

    “Yes” he answered.

    I could’nt bear it. Something happened in my head and I got so scared he’d leave me I started crying and got really uspet and scratched him under the eye, so hard he started bleeding ! Poor boy.
    He screamed and his mum ran uspstair to see what was happening. I can tell you I got into BIG trouble that night.

    I must have scratched him very hard because today we’re both 23 years old and he still has the scar – a tiny one – but if you look close you can see it ! He loves it now. He says he reminds him good memories and reminds him of me now we do live 800 kms apart !

    Oh dear.
    And – I did love picking my nose too :-)

  10. Great story, I had to muffle my laughter as I read this at work. However, I just showed my co-workers because it was to great not to share! -I do recall sitting in my bedroom about 5 years old. I was squirting the lotion right from the bottle into our dog’s mouth and laughing as he ate it up like dog treats! The door was closed and I’m sure my parents were off doing chores or whatever. We had a fawn Great Dane named Hercules. I remember hiding the empty lotion bottle under my doll’s blankets in her crib. The next day when my parents dicoveed the disgusting piles in the yard they asked me if i knew what happende to the dog. I ended up confesing and knwo i was punished but I dont remeber how. Now, when i see my daughter walk Ruger into her room and close the door, I smirk every time.

  11. Oh, too funny. I’m sorry to admit but I went through a period where I was a little too smart for my own good. I would see something on TV or come up with a crazy idea I was certain I could pull off. I’ll tell you about one of them. My friend and I saw an old rerun of the Brady Bunch where they were trying to scare one another. In one scene, a ghost flew across the room on a wire. We had the wonderful idea that we could do that, too. In my spare bedroom. (No one really used that room so who would notice? Right?) We had a few problems, though. One; no wire so we used some string. Two, we used my Mom’s good sheet for the ghost. Three; we couldn’t find any nails to tie the string to but we did find some screws. Four; thought we could pound screws into the wall like nails. However, we couldn’t find a hammer. (Smart parents not leaving tools around.) Therefore, we used one of my Mom’s high heeled shoes to pound the screw into the wall. After all this chaos and drama we sent our ghost for its first flight. (We were trying to scare my friend’s little sister.) Turned out to be its last. It was too heavy and the screws were yanked out along with a good portion of the walls. Also, it seems my parents noticed what happened in the spare room after all.

  12. I love that you’ll admit to all of this. I had a lot of weird habits as a kid….one of which was “licking my hands”? weird right?

  13. OMG, I was a nose picker toooo! I used to sit on the toilet and pick my nose and then wipe it on the back of the “good towels”. One day my mom found the mess I left and had a COW

  14. Apparently, I disobeyed my parents a lot. There was always a lot of yelling going on in my house when I was a kid. It didn’t get much better as an adult! lol

    My biggest thing was probably talking back. I still do it to my mother. I got slapped, spanked, stuff taken away, grounded, etc. Nothing worked. I always like to tell my mother what a perfect angel I was growing up. My mother says we obviously have very different memories of my childhood. lol

  15. I was a goody goody kid and a tattletale….. but I would tattle on myself!! I never got away with anything because I would tell on myself. I think the biggest thing I got in trouble for was staying up all night as a little kid. If I was quiet they never knew, but if I got loud and woke them up I got in trouble. One day when I had stayed up all night I finally lay down to go to sleep my parents came in my room, woke me up and sent me outside to pick blackberries at dawn. I got poked by so many thorns and chewed up by so many mosquitoes. It never broke me to staying up late, but I sure was quiet from then on lol.

  16. Climbing!
    When I shared the room with my younger brother, we had the boxes and coffins with the seasonal clothes in the room, on the wardrobes. And on top sat I, crouched in the spare room to the ceiling. As my mother found everyting risky and forbaded too much, as a child I didn’t learn wat was really risky and was really not done and her anger about this was only impressing because of her hard hands.
    We have christmas on December 25 and 26. On 24 December my mother did all the christmas decoration, with four children looking near her elbow, which made her awfully grumpy. But al these boxes with decorations were unresistable as was the mistery of a chandler, a candle, some holly and my mother changing things so beautiful. Before she exhausted went to bed, the livingroom was closed, for the decorated christmastree had to be a total surprise. No, it was not about the presents, we got these on December 6 in our shoes, from Sinterklaas. The door had no lock, but too high for little children was a hook. I learned a lot of my elder sisters and when to them the gloires of kinds of naughtiness faded, it was my time. With my little chair and some cushions and lots of reachings I got the hook loose. The christmastree was beautiful, especially the silver birds and bells and oh, that trumpet. Who can withstand a trumpet hanging right for his nose (standing on a chair)? So very carefully a bit of trumpetting. It was unbelievable, out of the blue my raging mother was behind me, how did she know?!
    But as I grew only to 1.60 m, all this climbings and reachings were a good training for reaching up to the highest shelves now.

    My big sisters were awfully good inspirators, like repetedly inspect the cupboard in the bathroom, taking everyting out to open and look in and snuff at. Or the tray with underware in my mothers wardrobe: put your arms deep in it and go round as kneading hooks was such a good feeling.

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