My earliest memory is from January 28, 1986. Since I was just over a year old, I’m sure you’re wondering how I remember what day it was. Well, to be honest, I had to look the date up; if you look the date up, you’ll find it’s the day the Challenger exploded. Yup, my earliest memory is watching that tragedy. It’s just as clear in my mind today as the day it happened. We were living in Denver so my dad could attend seminary. The church we went to/led music in, allowed us to live in the cottage next door to the church. There was a daycare at the church, and they invited mom to bring me over so we could watch the Challenger lift-off with the daycare kids. Clearly, the teachers had no idea (no one did) of what was going to happen. The explosion happened, and there was this general scramble of panicked teachers trying to get the tv turned off, before we kids were scarred anymore than we already were.
Fast forward a few months to my next earliest memory (it was shortly before I was 2). I’m sitting at home, it’s evening, and the atmosphere at the dinner table is uncomfortable. I remember we were all eating Ramen, and I remember being incredibly sad about it. However, I also remember feeling that I had learned my lesson. So, what led up to the sad Ramen eating?
Well, as I mentioned at the beginning, dad was going to school. Even though he worked whenever he wasn’t in class, we were pretty much broke. Mom’s the budgeting queen, and to this end, she scrimped and saved so we could do something special. We got to go to Chick-Fil-A. We hardly ever got to go, and it was a family favorite.
We were standing in line, and for some reason I decided to throw a temper tantrum. I’ve always been strong-willed, and my parents gave me an opportunity to decide to behave. They told me that I could either stop and I would be able to have my chicken nuggets, or if I didn’t stop we would go home where there would be no chicken nuggets. I decided to test their resolve and the boundary they’d established, and the tantrum continued.
And we got out of line, went home, and ate Ramen instead of chicken nuggets.
Now, I’m sure there are people reading this that are thinking that my parents were horrible people because they did this when I was so little. I disagree. I think my parents were completely right in their actions. I was an intelligent kid (even when I was really little), and looking back on it, I know I completely understood what was going on. By following through, on what they said would happen, I learned that they would do exactly what they said. No empty threats, no, “If you don’t stop that, I’m going to count to ten,” which would be followed up by, “C’mon, stop it. I’m going to count to ten again.” By following through, I learned that my parents knew I was a manipulative little brat, and I was not going to get away with things.
So, what effect did that day have? I never misbehaved in public again (you can ask my parents if you don’t believe me). Mom and dad were able to take me to nice places, and not worry about my behavior. It was common for other restaurant patrons to come up and compliment and thank my parents for doing a good job with me. Not only that, but we had people pay for our meals more than once because they were so impressed.
Growing up, my parents were my cheerleaders, my support system, but most importantly, they were my parents and not my friends. When I grew up they remained all the above listed things, and they became my friends.