Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cities
Mariah Cossey, First Place
Grade 6, Intermediate Division
Staci Andrews, Grover Heights
About 3 years ago, my brother and I were given the chance to prove our sense of responsibility. Alex, my ten-year-old brother, was swamped with homework so he was allowed to stay home from a two-hour meeting that my parents had to go to. I begged to be allowed to stay home too, but they were reluctant at first.
“Please, Mom!” I pleaded with my wide 8-year-old eyes. “I don’t know if you’re ready yet, Maia. You have to prove your maturity first,” my mom droned, giving me the look that showed pity, love, and annoyance. Finally, after my rather sophisticated way of reasoning, she let me stay with the warning that I would lose their trust if I misbehaved.
That day I found out that staying home alone wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be and after an hour I was practically dying of boredom. Skipping into my brother’s room, I saw that he had language arts, math, and social studies homework to finish. But of course I did what every normal kid would do.
“Whatcha doin?” I asked in a sickly sweet and innocent voice. “Homework,” he grunted. “Get out!” “What’s this?” I asked cutely, holding up his math work. His reaction was to ignore me, but that was the worst thing he could have done. “I’ll rip it! I sang malevolently. “Leave! He yelled at me grabbing back his papers.
I didn’t move so…he shoved me to the ground. All the energy and anger from being bored, ignored and shoved built up inside me until there was no room for anything else. Eyes wild, I flew at my brother with claws out and reason gone. I didn’t stop to think about the outcomes my actions might have. I just did it. I bit and scratched my brother until he kicked me back, but that just infuriated me more. Like a wild beast I tore up his math papers, ran from the kill to my room and locked the door.
When my parents came home, they confronted me with hostile expressions after talking with Alex. I stared at my mom and, with a dry mouth, did what they told me never to do. I lied.
I made up a story of how I was minding my own business when I thought I might ask my brother to play with me. I told them I accidentally ripped his paper as I was leaving. Then he started attacking me. I finished with a tale of remorse for hurting him in my self-defense. My brother had been known to have a temper lately and a history of lying about video games so they believed me. Mostly…. Our only punishment was a time out and Alex got one too.
That night, guilt welled up inside me. The harder I tried to ignore it the fiercer it fought. It swelled and writhed and ate away at me until I had to get up and go to the sink. I drank in desperation to try and drown the evil, guilt-ridden monster, but it was persistent. At last I gave in and ran to my parents’ room. They weren’t all too enthusiastic about me waking them from their beneficial sleep so early in the morning. But when I told them it was to fix my fragile friendship with Alex they got nice. I told them everything, the complete truth this time. The punishment for lying, hurting Alex and ripping his homework was great but at least I could sleep at night.
Looking back, I realize how much better off I would have been if I had thought about the 4-Way Test before I acted. The 4-Way Test is a perfect thing to go by in life. However, to put it in clear, simple terms, I will probably make a big mistake again. Nobody is perfect. No matter how good you are, you aren’t going to think about the test for everything in your life, Eventually, everyone is going to mess up badly at some point. That’s the truth and that’s what I know.