Write about the worst time you’ve ever put your foot in your mouth.

I honestly can’t think of a good response to this one. Maybe I don’t fully understand what “foot in your mouth” means, so don’t know how to apply it. BUT Gary wrote a great story today at ShadowOfGevros.com. You have to check it out. It’s one of those moments in a child’s life that will forever go down in history. And he recounts it very well.

I guess the closest I’ve come to (what I think is) a “foot in your mouth” experience was also as a kid. I always loved reading, and growing up, we had lots of Afrocentric children’s books to choose from. I was in second grade. About 8 years old. One day, we had some free time in class. Some kids painted, others played games or figured out puzzles, maybe. I chose to sit at my desk and write down poems that I’d memorized the night before from one of our Afrocentric books.

The poems were very simple. I think I remember one spelled out A-F-R-I-C-A; each letter introducing a poetic thought or affirmation easy enough for kids to comprehend.

I wrote each of these poems from memory, and then for some reason felt compelled to show them off to my teacher. Did I present the poems to her, at her little desk in the far corner of the room? Or did she come over and ask me about them? I’m not sure.

All I know is that when she asked me, “Did you write these?” I answered, “Yes.”

I don’t know why I lied. Maybe she looked so proud of me, that I didn’t have the heart to let her down. Or perhaps I just got caught up in the moment, without thinking about what the consequences would be.

Well, there were consequences. My teacher was so amazed by “my” poems, that she took them to the principal, who then had them printed in the school newsletter. Can you believe it? The poems that I’d memorized were printed and sent to all of the parents in school. Each poem listed my name as the author, right below the title.

“By Andrea Boston.”

I was so embarrassed. I felt so out of control. Just so overwhelmingly… overwhelmed with grief and anguish, and every other emotion that an 8 year-old can process. What will everyone think of me? Will I get in trouble? The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my teachers. As a proud teacher’s pet, I spent most of my school day trying to stay on their good side. Would my teacher not like me anymore?

The details are pretty vague after all these years, but I think my mother got one of the newsletters in the mail. What a surprise for her to see all of those prolific poems penned by her daughter. It finally came out that I didn’t write them, and I remember my mom walking with me to the principal’s office, and standing there as I told the truth about the writings.

It was a moment that stayed with me for a very long time. My first lesson on the importance of honesty.