As a three year old, I saw Dad as the man. He wrestled and roughhoused with me. He constructed the tallest Lego buildings I had ever seen. He hoisted me above his head and swung me around the room like a helicopter. One summer day, I was asked if I would rather take a walk with Mom and my new born sister, Audrey, or piece together the new grill with Dad. I chose to put together the grill. Tools and Dad: an undeniable fantasy for a young boy.
After tearing apart the packaging and separating the different poles and screws, Dad instructed me to stay out of the way so he could assemble the grill. Five minutes of no attention and not participating did not suit my needs. Mom and Audrey had only parted for their walk ten minutes ago; I figured I would attempt to catch up.
My Mom and baby sister always took the same route on walks. My three-wheeler had some pep and I sought to accompany them on the walk. Leaving Dad behind assembling the grill, I fetched my three-wheeler from under the tree in the front yard and began my journey to catch up.
While I was away joyfully riding my three-wheeler through the weaving streets of my neighborhood, my Mom and sister arrived home to my Dad darting through the yard, searching frantically for his runaway son. Taking a break from his search, my Dad questioned my whereabouts. My Mom had no idea where I was; I was supposed to be at home. My Dad bolted to the car and floored it out of the driveway in his hunt for me.
It took two policemen, a neighborhood search crew, and a displeased man in a Toyota Camry to recover and bring home the “young brown-haired boy on a Little Tikes toy”. While being scolded, I found that my Mom had chosen to take a different course.
I believe that assuming causes problems for multiple people: the person doing the assuming and the people involved with the assuming.
I like to think that I have learned from my crime of assumption, but in reality, I continue to assume like it’s my job. My Chemistry teacher will not take this assignment for a grade; he never takes homework for a grade. When the assignment was returned, I received a whopping 60%. There are talks of blizzard like conditions, no school guaranteed. I’m going to stay up late. At 6:45, my Dad rudely awakes me after a lousy six hours of sleep.
While whirling around on my three-wheeler that day, I learned what assuming is all about. I expected my Mom to walk the same route that we normally walk, but I was mistaken. My assumption not only mustered issues for me, but also for my parents who stressed constantly until I was found. Every day I assume, and every day I wind up being wrong. I believe that assuming rarely turns out to be what one anticipated.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.