The Story of an Ex-Good Girl: Part One

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HA Note: The following is reprinted with permission from Exgoodgirl’s blog The Travels and Travails of an Ex-Good Girl. It was originally published on August 2, 2014 and has been slightly modified for HA.

 Part One: The Day I Turned Bad

My earliest childhood memories are all good. Playing “cave spelunking” in our basement with my dad and siblings, the big climbing tree in our backyard, playing Indians with shell-face-paint at the beach with my cousins, going fishing with my dad, capturing fishflies and keeping them as pets: a collection of small childhood pleasures like those most of us have stored away in memory somewhere. I liked my early childhood. It was good. I liked my family. My life was safe and happy, and I don’t take those two things lightly!  By some odd quirk of personality, I was one of those kids that lived to please.  I was not only happy to do my own chores but other people’s as well, and I used to get scolded for using up whole boxes of Kleenex to wrap miscellaneous small things to give as gifts to all and sundry (no laughing, Kleenex is the imaginative child’s wrapping paper!)  My mom would call me “her little sunshine”, and I think in many ways I was my parent’s golden child. My older sister, R, was a free spirit, quite mischievous, with just enormous quantities of energy that she had to expend every waking moment!  She was in constant motion for at least 8 straight years.  With such an energetic first child, having a second-born who was quiet and lived-to-please must have seemed like a godsend to my parents! My little brother B, who arrived two years after I did, took after my older sister.  So that made it two to one and probably wore my parents out good and proper, while making my halo glow even brighter by comparison!

I was probably about 6 when I came to the dawning revelation that my eagerness to please and do things for everyone was leaving me with quite the unequal work load.

I would make my own twin bed in the morning…then my sister’s…then my brother’s…then my parent’s big double-bed, which was quite a feat for a small 6-year-old!  I was also a budding perfectionist, so sometimes I just re-did everyone else’s work after they did it, just so it could be done better, to my own strict and exacting standards.  In retrospect I sound rather obnoxious, even to myself!  In any case, I noticed that I was the one always getting asked to help with everything, while my sister and brother got out of work by virtue of complaining.  My good nature was being taken advantage of!  This unpleasant discovery rankled in my small soul.  I decided it was unfair, and from now on, I was just going to do my own work and no-one else’s.

I always looked at this decision as the moment when I started to “go bad”.  I don’t know if I remember the exact moment or not, but it was kept fresh in my memory, because my mom was always asking me about it, for years and years afterwards. “Do you remember the day you decided to stop being sweet and helpful?” she’d ask, sighing a little.  “You used to be such a sweet little girl.”

She would heave another sigh, and then ask, “Do you remember why you decided to stop being sweet and good? Did Satan talk to you, and put that idea in your head?  That was when you turned into a selfish girl.

I think this was just my mom’s way of complaining for the good ol’ days when she had at least ONE easy child to deal with. But at the time it instilled all sorts of guilt in me and left me wondering if I had, indeed, made a pact with Satan that day, because certainly I didn’t act as nice afterwards.  This actually became a major point of doubting my own salvation for me, because I had “said the sinner’s prayer” at the ripe old age of 3, and wasn’t I supposed to keep getting better and better after I was saved? But here I was, turning selfish and bad at the age of 6, when I should instead have been comfortably far down the road of righteousness!  These doubts and guilt plagued me for years; I’m sorry to say.  I always think one should explain salvation a little better, even to young children, so they don’t fall into these sorts of theological pitfalls. Over-simplistic theology definitely never helped me as a child, and I bet I’m not the only one.  Anyway, after I “turned bad” at the age of 6, I went on still enjoying my life despite being the selfish little sinner that I now knew I was.  Then, when I was about 7, we met Joe and Mary LaQuiere.

photo credit: Joel Dinda via photopin cc

Part Two>

8 comments

  • “Did Satan talk to you…?” My visceral reaction just now: I really, sincerely wanted that adorable soon-to-be-ex-good-girl to answer: “Yes, momma. I talk to Satan all the time.”

    At least Satan makes deals.

    I think I react that way because I want my own mother (and all fundy parents) to be blown out of their shoes and finally respond as full human beings to their own children. Except I know that, even now, my own mother will never be a full human being. And I don’t even care anymore.

    Wait, I lied.

    • Timber, your response sounds like something my husband would say! He has less-than-cordial feelings towards my parents, as you can imagine!

      I really relate to what you’re saying – especially with my dad. It’s like he has this complete immunity to being able to react or see the situation in an objective light. There’s no shock value left for him. He has smooth answers and rationalizations for everything, and the real him is buried so deep beneath the surface (I’m sure to protect himself from feeling guilt) that I don’t know how to get to it anymore. Something to shock him out of that fake composure would be…amazing. Then maybe we’d get somewhere. Maybe I’d have a chance at a real relationship with my dad again.

  • Well, this is painfully familiar! I “turned bad” at five. (The only thing I can think of that I /did/ is start kindergarten. My older sister, too, “turned bad” when she started school.)

    • Theo, what an odd thing! I wonder if that’s a more general experience than I realize with families like ours. Maybe it has to do with starting to reach the age of reason, where we no longer accept everything as a trusting little child, but start to have thoughts of our own?

      • You’re probably right. As an Asperger’s (autistic) person entering special ed kindergarten after having been at a clinical-type preschool setting since I was under 2 years old, I “turned bad” as well and started to miss the old me, which is funny since I have seen reports from the nursery school which are just as unfavorable as anything the teachers said to me in kindergarten, and my parents later told me that the doctors thought I was mentally challenged (in fact, I think they used the slur “retarded” to describe me). Nevertheless, it was not until after I reached the age of five that I “figured out” that I was “bad”. Maybe the age of reason is not only when you start to have thoughts of your own, but when you more clearly begin to notice the thoughts of others.

  • Pingback: The Story of an Ex-Good Girl: Part Two | Homeschoolers Anonymous

  • “…sometimes I just re-did everyone else’s work after they did it, just so it could be done better, to my own strict and exacting standards. In retrospect I sound rather obnoxious, even to myself! ”

    In a six year old? That sounds sort of cute- like a kid clomping around in their parents’ shoes or wearing a superman cape. But you would have to be out of your mind to be disappointed if the six year old failed to hold down your nine to five job or leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Perfectionism in a kid that small- to me- only seems obnoxious -or desirable!- if one treats it… seriously? For lack of a better word.

    I think child you sounds adorable. And as an oldest daughter I’m going to have to write up a complaint to the oldest daughter dept about your sister not making her own bed/better so that you didn’t.

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