Confidence Is a Trap

Or: Why I’m Grateful My Parents Didn’t Give Me to Carnival Folk When I Was a Child

When I was a little girl, I was, to put it politely, pesky.* To help keep my parents on their toes, I balanced out my charming, well-behaved, thoughtful older brother by instigating mischievous mayhem and bringing home all sorts of tiny wild animals.
*I have yet to grow out of this phase.

Because bugs are more evil than snakes are snuggley

And then I put him back.

By the time I was 10, we lived in a little bungalow house in California.

In the middle of my street....

Everything was “mine” when I was 10. And also now.

The house was so little, there was no proper entrance to the attic. Instead, there was a conspicuous strange opening, covered with a plank of wood, in the roof of my closet.

There be monsters inside

See? All the things are mine.

Like many other suburban Bay Area homes, our house had a drop-tile attic entrance that you needed a ladder to access. We kept our ladder permanently in place, because we went up to the attic a lot.

It was a good attic

Even people who read my blog are mine. My readers. Hi, Mine Reader-Person!

Like any child with immediate, constant access to a very tall and dangerous ladder, I played on it as much as humanly possible. I sat on the rungs and read books. I climbed up it to get to my Barbies. I staged elaborate imaginary sea-battles from the top of the ladder, because, well, that was safe.

If I know you, I will draw a stick figure of you

My mom always has cool hair. This was her cool hair when we lived in California.

My mother would warn me to be careful and bribe me to stay off the ladder. But I was confident.

This is foolish confidence

I was definitely not born on a ladder. I’m sure that would have been super awkward for my mom. In hindsight, telling your mother you were “born” on or around anything other than a hospital is generally pretty dumb.

But I had a tendency to climb the ladder in socks. And, as it happens, parents tend to be right about a lot more things than 10-year-olds.

Dangerous confidence is dangerous


And one day I fell off of the top of the ladder. I smacked into the floor at terminal 10-year-old velocity. It wasn’t a very high fall, but it was enough that I thought I was paralyzed. As I lay on the ground squeaking out pathetic noises, my parents came rushing in.

I totally was not dead or hurt

I am perhaps translating what I think my father was thinking, instead of actually transcribing the thoughtful things he said to comfort my mother after making sure I wasn’t dead or really damaged.

This happened more than one time**. But it never once deterred my mental stance of confidence. I was filled with a strange survival-detrimental confidence that I was really good at being on ladders.
**At least sixteen before I even hit high school.

I totally am the Pirate Empress, though

It was probably all of the times I smacked my head on the floor that proves my father right here.

If I were my parents, I probably would have sold me to the circus.