Sitting up straight, against the hard seat of the school bus, riding to kindergarten one warm fall day, I lost my hair clip. It slipped out of my hand to the dusty floor as we were bumping along the gravel road. I wasn’t allowed to leave my seat, so there I froze, worrying. I’d made a huge mistake. My mom had told me to leave it in my hair and I hadn’t listened. It was fun to squeeze open and let it snap shut.
Open – snap.
Open – snap – drop.
My mom would be so mad. She had told me to stop and I couldn’t control my urges to play. My bus driver wouldn’t care. I can’t even remember if the driver was a man or a woman. It’s funny how anxiety plays tricks on our ability to hyper-focus on some details and ignore others.
The next day, there was my hair clip, attached to the driver’s little fan. With great hesitation, I took it, said a quick thank you under my breath, and slipped into my front, kindergarten seat. I sat down and was so thankful I wasn’t in more trouble.
Then… open – snap – you guessed it – drop. MISTAKE!!
I was horrified. I’d done it once and been forgiven. Now I had done it again. I hate making mistakes, but making the same mistake twice was a huge blow.
There was the clip, on the steps of the bus, one big bump away from hitting the dusty road. Torturing me the whole way to school. I never saw that hair clip again.
A different day, on my way to kindergarten, I got a piece of gum. My parents went out of town for a conference, so I stayed with friends. They brought me to school and gave me a piece of gum on the way. When I got to school, I remembered gum wasn’t allowed. I was so afraid of getting in trouble because someone one would see me walking to the trash can to throw it away, I stuck the piece of gum in my pocket! Sorry, Mom.
It took me until I had my own kids, helped with class parties, helped in Sunday school, and had been around preschoolers and kindergarteners for a few years to realize these distorted ways of thinking are in-born in us.
No one wants to help me.
No one likes me.
I’m going to ruin my life by losing a hair clip.
So, I let it go. I didn’t trust others to help. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t perfect.
Being a kindergartener is nerve-wracking!
We tell ourselves these false beliefs out of habit. They happen without our even thinking about it.
Some mistakes can be corrected, but our brain doesn’t want to hear it. Sometimes it takes longer than we’d like, but life always moves on, with or without us. That little girl on the bus took a long time to call those false beliefs for what they were and how to overcome anxiety. Now, I have a little girl with the same hang-ups and I see them for what they are. I see her struggling, but she won’t believe me when I tell her all I want to do is help. Some lessons take time and can only be learned through experience.
Some lessons are even harder to live through the second time around through the eyes of a mother.
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