I believe that if parents want their child to be honest with them, they should listen to the child’s point of view, instead of clinging stubbornly to their own ideas.
My mom, Rosie, believed deeply in the Power of Eggs. To grow up strong and healthy, she maintained, one shoud eat at least an egg, or better still, two eggs every day. She was not above asking the soda fountain man to slip and raw egg into my malted milkshake. That’s how important eggs were to Rosie. A bowl of Rice Crispies with milk did not begin to fit her breakfast requirements.
Eggs did not fit mine. I couldn’t even watch anyone eat soft-boiled eggs. I rejected scrambled eggs, poached eggs and sunny-side up eggs.
“Please don’t get up to make me breakfast. I like to eat breakfast alone,” I begged.
“If I make you a hard-boiled egg and leave it for you in the refrigerator, will you eat it?” Mom asked.
Okay, enough already. I had a plan.
Every morning, I took my moist, unshelled hard-boiled egg from the refrigerator and wrapped it in my napkin. Then I felt underneath the table for my secret ledge and, gingerly, placed the egg upon it. After a while, I had a long line-up of napkins with eggs enclosed.
This could have gone on for a long time. But one day, I heard my mom talking on the phone about an awful smell in the kitchen. She had cleaned out the refrigerator, poured Drano down the sink, and still, the odor persisted. It smelled just like… rotten eggs! Where was it coming from? A search of the kitchen soon revealed the hidden eggs on my secret ledge. My deception was unmasked.
None but the most determined mothers would persist, and I had one. A hard-boiled egg still awaited me every morning. But now, without my ledge diversion, what was I to do? Certainly not eat the eggs.
I soon came up with another strategy. It consisted of this: I would put the egg in my pocket, walk quickly to the bathroom and flush the offending oval down the toilet…ugh! Goodbye, egg!
I have to tell you that during my childhood, I felt like a brat for my many acts of subterfuge. Believe me, I would much rather have basked in a glow of her approval. I wanted to be good. But I realized early on that it was much easier to pretend to go along than to confront her. And now I see that my instinct for self-preservation saved me from becoming the dysfunctional child of a dysfunctional mother. Sorry, mom. I had to do it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.