The first time I remember being in trouble with my parents I was 6 years old. I think about this day now, decades later and I realize that one day has been a metaphor for most of my life.
It was the summer between kindergarten and first grade. The day was sunny and warm. I was restless and wanted something to do. I had read all the books we had at home and yearned to read something else. My decision seemed pretty simple to me: if you want something, you should just go after it. It didn't seem like I would want to bother my mom (who always seemed so busy). Since she was busy and I was bored, I could take care of this myself. I liked going for walks and decided to walk to Shelby Public Library. I knew where the books were and already had a relationship with the librarians who worked in our small town. They were kind and soft-spoken and always seemed to have time to help me find something new and interesting to read next. I had participated in their reading contest where I had read enough books to put all the scales on a paper dragon and wanted more. I would reach out to my new adult friends in my small hometown.
Looking back, my mom must have thought I was still outside playing. Most summer days that was my routine. I was looking to change it up that day. It didn't occur to me that I should mention this decision to my mom. She was, after all, busy. I walked down the street of our small town, trying to remember how we got to the library in the car. I was pretty sure I could walk to the library, find some fabulous new books, walk home, and read a couple before mom wanted me home for dinner. Walking down Michigan Avenue, I turned right and walked parallel to US-31. Back then, 31 was the only thoroughfare north to Pentwater and Ludington and was pretty busy most of the time (now the expressway has eased most of that traffic, but that was not the case at this time). I continued on toward 3rd Street where the city park, Congregational, and Methodist Churches are located. I waited and made sure to look both ways as I crossed US-31. I was certain my mom would be proud that I was using all the skills she had taught me.
I did not make it to the library that day. My mom wheeled up about the time I was ready to cross Maple and start down the home stretch. She pulled up in our family car, got out, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me into the passenger side of the car. She was frantic, but I still had my goal in my sights and was frustrated to be kept from reaching it. "What are you doing?" she sounded mad, but her eyes were full of fear.
"I am going to the library." I replied with great confidence.
"You are going home," she said and turned the car in the opposite direction.
I have always loved reading and it makes me smile that the first time I was in serious trouble I was on a maverick journey to the library. My childhood had nice long stretches of time where I needed to make my own way and entertain myself. I always thought I was capable of doing things a bit more complex than others believed. My independence has gotten me in trouble more than once, though it has also been my saving grace.
I am still not interested in waiting too long, asking permission, or checking in before I take off. I don't like training wheels, boundaries, or days without a book. I feel like on most days I continue to "walk to the library" as I continue through this maverick journey that is my life.