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Friday Afternoon Confessional: My childhood crimes

I confess that in third grade, I was put in a group (four desks clustered together) with a student that I found to be annoying and with whom I had an antagonistic relationship for most of elementary school. One day, he got me particularly riled up, and — completely uncharacteristically — I hauled off and punched him in the ear. Naturally he started crying, etc., drawing the teacher’s attention, but when he told her what had happened, she didn’t believe him because I was a model student in every way. I confess that the targetting of his ear was more a reflection of my inexperience in fighting than anything, but may have been more of a concern to him than to most, given that his dad was deaf.

I confess that in fourth grade, a group of us had determined that there was a sewer grate at the back of the weirdly large field behind the playground — a perfect opportunity to begin our new lives as Ninja Turtles! We planned for days, but when the time finally came, a lunch lady saw us and made us come back. I was very upset about this and told her that she had ruined my day.

I confess that, itching for a fight, I spotted the very same kid whose ear I punched in the previous incident. Grabbing a frisbee, I threw it at him, and to my surprise, it hit him in the head. Totally blindsided, he started screaming. Another lunch lady had seen this go down and was hot on my trail. She told me I had to go to the principal’s office, but I refused repeatedly, believing myself to be a “good kid” who didn’t have to go to the principal’s office. At some point in this exchange, the word “butthead” was used, not by the lunch lady.

My punishment was meted out: I would have to stay in and help clean the cafeteria during recess for two weeks and had to write an apology to my arch-nemesis. When I got home, my mom was sitting on the porch steps, weeping at my errant ways. (If you asked her, she would now claim that she primarily found the incident funny — I’m not sure how you can make our memories match up at this point.) I received a further punishment: two weeks without TV or Nintendo. This punishment proved especially grievous because our babysitter had gotten ahold of Mario 3 and brought it over for us to play during my sentence — the thought of my sister playing it before me was absolutely galling.

I confess that my note of apology read as follows: “Dear [name], I am sorry I hit you in the head. I only meant to hit you in the arm.”

During that two weeks, I read Tom Sawyer, which kicked off a Mark Twain fascination that lasted a couple years. (I seem to remember a book where Tom and Huck travel cross-country in a hot air ballon.) I confess that Pudd’nhead Wilson was difficult for me to follow in sixth grade.

I confess that in junior high, there was a quarterly event known as “Super Kid Day,” when kids with good grades and no demerits got to go see a movie or something during school hours. I was going through a phase where I retreated to my room as quickly as possible after school, so when “Super Kid Day” came around, I had not gotten my parents to sign a permission slip. Despite Mr. Wilcox — who would later be caught looking at porn during class, while my sister was a student in his class! — warning me that I couldn’t go, I snuck aboard the bus. Mr. Wilcox saw me get off the bus and let me participate normally, but warned “there will be consequences.” I ultimately got detention for claiming the reward my good behavior had earned me.

That is basically the record of my notable childhood misbehavior.


January 22, 2010 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional


  1. I confess that during grade school, a Catholic school, I received Saturday detention for getting caught chewing gum in class. My punishment was to scrape old gum from the bottom of the tables in the bingo hall in the basement of the school.

    About a year or so later I was practicing some new language that I had heard older kids say. During recess, I thought it would be a good idea to implement said language during a game of “telephone.” A few minutes after I began the game one of the girl students in the class ran to find our teacher. The message at the end of the game became “Erika has a blowjob.” I confess that I had to copy the glossary from my religion textbook as my punishment.

    As a standard rule in our house we had to walk home from school if we ever got in trouble or had detention (about a 5 mile walk). After the scenario above I managed to get a ride from the parents of another poorly behaved student but I asked them to drop me off at the end of my road. I confess that I thought I had bested my parents but it turned out that they discovered my tactic and punished me even more.

    I confess that one of the nuns at my school called me the devil.

    Comment by Jon | January 22, 2010

  2. I confess to getting repeatedly caught drawing pictures of naked people on the playground in 2nd grade. Because I went to a progressive Southern California public school, and Mrs. Eguchi herself was an artist, my “punishment” was sitting down with my teacher and parents to peruse art books where nudity was depicted tastefully and artistically– my first encounter with Renoir.

    I also confess to saying “fuck!” when I was five, in front of my dad. He put a bar of Irish Spring in my mouth, but upon realizing I’d learned this word from him, felt so guilty that he replaced the bar of soap with ice cream.

    I confess that the lack of punishment and discipline in my youth has exempted me from any sense of normal American shame-based values, but that also can’t seem to make any deadlines. I also really like nudity, ice cream, and swearing.

    Comment by ebolden | January 22, 2010

  3. I handcuffed a kid to the outside stairs when I was 5 with handcuffs that the security guards of our apartment complex gave me (I really wanted to be a cop when I was a kid). My mother came home and was shocked by my bullying behavior. To this day I’m ashamed by my fascist behavior. In my head he was out there for hours, but seeing as a 5 year-old’s concept of time is a bit off I bet it was 10 minutes.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | January 22, 2010

  4. I confess that I remember my childhood as one long and nearly undifferentiated stretch of unpleasant thoughts and vicious deeds, which seem to me now unisolable into discrete anecdotes, much less funny ones.

    Comment by jms | January 22, 2010

  5. I confess going to school in 3rd grade wearing pants which quite powerfully smelled like poop. I had been playing/sitting on my iced-over back yard prior to the drive to school. But the ice was the result of our sump pump drainage.

    For those unfamiliar with sump pumps, I’m with you. But the drainage apparently smells like poop (probably because it IS poop).

    My classmate car-pool partner Danielle was told by my brother why the car smelled so bad. And when my classmates started freaking out at the mysterious horrific smell during the pledge of allegiance, Danielle blurted, “It’s Chad’s pants! That’s what Dallas said!”


    Comment by Chad | January 22, 2010

  6. That’s not really lining up with the theme of this thread…but there you go.

    Comment by Chad | January 22, 2010

  7. I confess that a punch to the ear, if delivered properly, can be pretty devastating.

    I confess that my most embarrassing childhood transgression is “whoring” myself out to my next-door neighbor’s daughter. She had a new rabbit I desperately wanted to hold and pet. I had a penis she wanted to see. (Context: we were both five or six years old.) So, I pulled it out for her, she inspected, and I got to play with the rabbit. Our deal was never discovered; but I do still have a photograph of me holding the bunny.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | January 22, 2010

  8. I think we’d get along, Brad.

    Comment by ebolden | January 22, 2010

  9. ebolden has a bunny she’d like you to look at, Brad.

    Comment by jms | January 22, 2010

  10. i confess the majority of my childhood malice was directed at my little sister. this included cutting the hair off her tweetie stuffed toy and throwing it out of our 21st flat floor window. i confess i will probably feel guilty about this for the rest of my life, and that i am grateful she does not resent me for it.

    Comment by sarah | January 22, 2010

  11. Further to 4, I will reiterate in this forum the same confession I made every year I went to church camp — viz., that when I was in the first? second? grade, I stole my classmate’s eraser. We had those desks with a storage space under the writing surface for keeping books and pencils and things, and when my neighbor seatmate wasn’t looking, my left hand crept under her desk and took the eraser I knew was there. I don’t even know why I wanted it. It was translucent and green, about the size of a quarter, with an opaque white center. It was my deepest darkest secret for a long time.

    My grandmother started making me go to Jesus camp a couple years later, and they’d make everyone gather at night to pray. There was a lot of speaking in tongues and crying. I would try to think of the worst thing I had done, so that I’d have something to pray about, and all I could come up with was that stupid eraser. I’d try to make myself feel bad enough about it to cry, so that other people wouldn’t notice that I, alone in the congregation, was unelected by God, but honestly I didn’t feel particularly guilty about it at that point and anyway I knew I was already untouched by grace and started to feel that my greater sin was my present imposture. It was around this time that I began to lose my faith.

    Comment by jms | January 22, 2010

  12. I confess that not only was the majority of my childhood malice directed at my little sister, but additionally that I think she turned out well for it.

    I confess that upon learning that we had a very strong pair of kitchen scissors, I immediately knew I had to determine whether they were strong enough to cut x, and the first value I could think of for x was the shorts my dad was wearing at the time. A few seconds later no one, least of all me, could figure why the fuck I cut my dad’s shorts (in the leg).

    Comment by K-sky | January 22, 2010

  13. I further confess that I cheated on a health test in the 8th grade. When my test was handed back with a bright red “100%”, a jock named Buddy loudly said, “Wow, you know your dick.”

    Comment by K-sky | January 22, 2010

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