To Be Like Everyone Else or Not To Be
If So - And - So jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?
You know that statement well, don't you? So do I. Growing up, it was a common phrase used in my household. If your sister jumped off a bridge, would you jump off the bridge as well? If your friend jumped off the bridge, would you follow? This was especially true if the excuse for doing something (particularly if it was wrong) was because So - And - So did it or if the reason for wanting to do something was because everyone else was doing it.
It was a lesson that didn't sink in well throughout my younger years, but we do live in a society that encourages individualism rather than cowering to conformists. And I do have a bit of a stubborn streak once I set my mind on something. Plus, it doesn't hurt that my first lesson in why one should not do something just because everyone else does came around the age of 3 or 4.
I wish I could say the spoon represents being different than all the forks. . .
but all it really represents to me is. . .well, okay it does represent being different. However, this particular spoon is the reason the lesson was learned in the first place.
Let me explain.
Imagine being a preschooler, playing in your innocent little world of house and blocks and such when it's cleanup time. You're now summoned to lunch, and in this particular preschool, students do not convene in a common cafeteria, but rather eat within their own classrooms.
Okay, that's a nice enough scenario, right? Stay with me. Lunch is over now. Now, all the other kiddos are throwing their paper bowls and leftover stew away then happily skipping over to circle time on the rug. Oh, but what's this? They can't just simply toss them in the big trash can in the middle of the room. Oh, no, that's no fun. Why not snap the plastic spoons in half first?
Why not indeed. . .
Here's why not. I had no real desire to break a spoon in half; I remember that. But, you know. . . monkey see, monkey do. And this silly monkey-child did succeed in breaking my spoon in half. Yay me! Oh, wait. . .surprise! It's not quite as easy as everyone else made it appear, and the extra force it took to make it break apparently applied just enough pressure in the wrong place, meaning a sliver of plastic broke off and flew up at my face. Still, yay me! I did exactly what everyone else did - only, not.
"Honey, there's a spoon in your nose," said the teacher.
Nope. Of course there's not a spoon stuck in my nose. How could there be? I would feel that. At least that's what my little mind rationalized. No, definitely no spoon in my nose, and I emphatically informed the teacher that this was so.
No, ma'am, no you may not look at my nose to see how deep it is. No, ma'am, there's nothing to remove. Of this I am certain. And I will stubbornly just keep fielding off your attempts to convince me otherwise; that's how certain I am!
The walk of shame. . .
came when the teacher gave up trying to convince me I had a problem. Instead, she left the rest of the little conformists with the assistant teacher and marched me across the hall to the classroom where my grandmother was head teacher. Only then did I believe there was a piece of spoon lodged in the side of my nose. I'm not really sure if she knew whether to scold me for being so doggone defiant or to laugh at me.
Moral of the story.
So, am I a stronger woman because I jumped off the bridge with the other kids? Nah, probably not. As I said, the lesson didn't really stick, though I'll admit, I never was much of one do what the rest of the crowd did, so maybe it did.
And, if I look closely, there is still a small scar to remind me it's better to be a one of a kind chick.