NEWER POST

Being a Ravens Cheerleader Sounds Pretty Awful

OLDER POST

Baltimore is in the Middle of a Girl Scout Cookie Crisis

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Wretched of the Earth: When I Was a Wild Child

11 Written by: | Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 9:39am

author shot

author shot

Recently in a conversation with my mother about how special I was as a kid, she said, and I quote: “I wasn’t going to allow you to be the nasty little wretched sonofabitch you wanted to be.” Damn, Mom! She really lit in on me with that one, but she’s right. I was a little bad-ass growing up.

I remember living in Salt Lake City, Utah, from ages two through eight, and in that time racking up quite a few “wretched” incidents. For one, I diverted my school picture money given to me by Mom for the principal, and, like a Willy Wonka version of Robin Hood, spent it all at the 7-Eleven adjacent to the bus stop. What?!  I was spreading good cheer and king-size Hershey bars!

I was also a skillful shoplifter at the corner store that stood at the bottom of a steep hill in our neighborhood. I stole candy on the regular, so much so that the Korean proprietress ran outside after me one day: “You steal from me again, I shoot you.” I mimicked, “You shoot me?” I’m sure she wanted to sprinkle my ass with buckshot as I tore up the hill, candy still in my greedy little clutches. I’d find a tree on the way home and with some kind of device—let’s say a strong twig—I’d scratch out a shallow grave for my wares, pat dirt on top and mark it. I’d revisit my storage space on the way to the bus stop on school mornings.

I didn’t stop with stealing candy and money for candy, I also forged my mother’s signature on a disciplinary note sent home by my teacher. I thought I was smart with my large elementary school hand; Mom always used a Greek E in her signatures, so I did too. Not to toot my own horn, buuuuutttt I did get away with it for about a month.

I was fast-talking Freda; I had an answer for everything:

“Cija, your Mom hasn’t signed your note.”

“I know she hasn’t been feeling well.”

Days later:

“Cija, do we need to call your Mom?”

“Oh no, I’ll tell her.”

Finally, the principal, sick of my shenanigans, took me into the chapel and gave me an ultimatum: “If you don’t tell your mother tonight, then you will be kicked out of school.”

I wish I could remember why I had a note sent home in the first place. By this point my life was reminiscent of the plot of 90s Christian Slater movie Very Bad Things. But I digress. So, back against the wall, veil finally yanked, I admit some of the story to my mother, trying to dance around the issue to avoid the in-depth E! True Hollywood version.

Well, kids have a habit of doing dumb things, dumb, transparent-as-a-glass-of-water things, and what they never realize is that adults have been there, done that and in many cases done it better. Needless to say, when I told my Mom about the forged note I figured she’d be angry. What I didn’t bet on is that her favorite aunt, Gloria–her mother’s sister–had succumbed to breast cancer that day. I remember her crying in the kitchen, and how I thought that I, her devil spawn, had finally broken her.

Later, Dad made sure to tell me it wasn’t about me. Fed up with my continuous need to release the wild child in me, he sent me outside on a cold fall night in my birthday suit. There I stood shivering on the covered porch, my silhouette outlined in the buttery beam of kitchen light. I covered my kibbles and bits while staring at my parents huddled together behind the screen door. Mom looked worried; Dad looked simultaneously firm and resigned. She would later tell me how difficult it was to see me like that, but she also admitted to feeling helpless when it came to me. I was her oldest, her first baby; she wanted my brothers and sisters to feel lucky to be here with me leading the pack.

So back to the shivering youngster on a side porch under the thin mountain air of Utah—I would have bet money that I stood out there for an hour, but there’s no way I did. Note to self: Ask Mom how long I was actually on the porch. 

Dad pointed behind me to the mountain chains in the distance.

“If you want to go live with your grandmother (his mom, my savior), then keep going east through the mountains, you’ll eventually run into her.”

Then I thought of myself shivering, trekking on foot through dark mountains on a quest to my grandmother. My imagination played out the scene similar to Frodo’s quest to get the ring to Mordor. Of course I didn’t know about Lord of the Rings books or J.R.R. Tolkien then, but Frodo’s journey as depicted in the movies was how I saw myself. Post-journey, I would have looked like Gollum’s slightly cuter yet atrophied cousin.

After what felt like forever, Dad finally released me from the cold back into the warmth of the house. I was grateful—at least for the moment, I’d been allowed back into the fold.

 

Cija (pronounced Kia) Jefferson is an education advocate by day and a writer by night who would prefer to base her livelihood solely on writing and social commentary. You can follow her on twitter @cijasquips

Leave a Reply

  • Chris

    Sista’ – I love this piece. You rarely see decent, down-to-earth writings like this that you can relate to in more ways than one. Where else can you find a “kibbles and bits” reference?

    P.S. – I love that front-of-a-Common-Sense-or-Jill-Scott-Album pic of yourself, as well. Ol’ school shots tell truth.

    Keep writing!!

    Chris

  • Aqua Jefferson

    This piece was hysterical and well worth sharing. You captured exactly how it was-ha!! I want more

  • Monica W.

    Hilarious. I was the goodie two shoes as a kid. I wanted to be you.

  • Colleen (O'Hara) Kalamajka

    I didn’t realize you were such a naughty little girl. Your description brought me right to Utah and your porch! I really enjoyed this piece!

  • Terri Steel

    Love this! Congrats Cija!!

  • B

    “I’d find a tree on the way home and with some kind of device—let’s say a strong twig—I’d scratch out a shallow grave for my wares, pat dirt on top and mark it.”

    Hrrrrm…is there something wrong with me? Because, um, I do this with stuff I steal from work….

    P.S. You do realize that you are the reason all other children got whuppins, don’t you? Expect angry letters.

  • Cija

    Thank you all for your comments!!!

  • Raymara Robbins

    Way too funny! Sounds like you could have had a cartoon just as funny as Dennis the Menace! I’m sure it would have been more funny since you were a little girl! I love the thought process of creating a “stash spot” for the goods. Priceless!

  • Gayle Hawkins

    I loved it and I can relate, as I was “the devil child” in my family.

    Great job, Cija!!!

  • Phyllis

    Love it, Cija! Who knew you were such a bad ass?!



NEWER POST

Being a Ravens Cheerleader Sounds Pretty Awful

OLDER POST

Baltimore is in the Middle of a Girl Scout Cookie Crisis

Most Comments This Week

Recent Comments

Ruth Schachter
Is There Email After Death?

"So poignant - so right on.

Maggie Craig
Landmark For Sale: Stone Mill Worker House In Rockland Village

"My parents lived in one of them when they were first married in the 1920's

Arlene B
Landmark For Sale: Stone Mill Worker House In Rockland Village

"Well written & accurate! My sister lives in one of these charming homes & boards...

jeffdudley45
Why the Grand Prix Failed in Baltimore

"So, I hope Baltimore City didn't have to pay for a study on why it failed. Here's why it...