Tuesday, October 19, 2010

She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore....

I have no idea why I feel the need to blog about what a crazy, lying, horrible, rotten child I was.  Maybe because it is such a stark contrast from the pillar of the community I find myself to be these days (giggle).  Maybe because I feel like it wasn't enough for my parents to live through it once....it's best to force them to rehash every rotten moment via the world wide webs.  Or maybe it's because I haven't really changed much at all, but it is just way cuter and less likely to bring intense judgment if I tell stories from the past instead of from the present.

Yeah, it's probably that last one.

When I was growing up, the McNemar family somehow found our way to a beach every summer.  We would usually go as a big group with my cousins and aunts and uncles.  My brother and I would fight during the long car rides despite my mothers excellent aim with her backseat hand swat.  (We're lucky we never lost a leg.  I'm telling you, she had eyes in the back of her hand.  That right, I said hand.)

I loved the ocean, the sand, and the seagulls, but my favorite part was shopping in those cheesy touristy stores.  I would save up my allowance for months before we went to the beach just so I could blow it all on junk covered in tiny pink glued-on seashells and bright, plastic key chains to give to all my friends.  I dreamed of one day being a millionaire so that I could buy a hermit crab.  (When the dream of owning a hermit crab actually came true years later...I realized that not only did I not have to be a millionaire, but that hermit crabs are boring, smelly, and creepy.  Herman the Hermit didn't last long once we got him back to WV from his happy home at Edwards 5 &10 in Ocean City, MD.  Sad but true.  Another story of how my mom was right and I was wrong.  Don't tell her I said that.)  

Kirk, age 5 - Look at that FACE!

By the age of 8, I had somehow become greedier than Scrooge McDuck.  The week before our beach trip, as we are preparing and packing, my mom asks me to gather up all of the change I had saved over the last few months so that she could take it to the bank and get it counted and turned into cold hard cash-ola to take on our trip.  I went in my room and poured out my big red crayola crayon bank and began to count and separate my money.  I quickly realized that I was majorly penny-heavy.  I needed some silver and I needed it bad.  But how!?  WHERE!?

Then it hit me.  

My 5 year old little brother had a Mickey Mouse piggy bank chalked full o'quarters.  I knew this because he liked to brag about it.  And so began the plotting and planning that lead to the Great Quarter Heist of 1989....(I'm sure you've heard of it).

My reasoning was as such:
1) What could a 5 year old boy possibly want to buy at the beach?  I mean, he's freakin FIVE! 
2) Let's say he wants a paper airplane. Okay, well that will cost about $.50.  I'll leave that much in his piggy bank and he'll be as happy as a clam (even as a kid I was excellent with puns).
3) He's FIVE, he can't count his change.  He'll be none the wiser that anything is amiss.

So I waited until my mom was giving Kirk his bath and I quickly made the exchange.  Pennies for quarters.  It was during the midst of the heist that I got even greedier.  Why would I give him all these pennies???  If he can't count, then he won't notice if basically his entire piggy bank is gone, right?!

And I was totally right!!!!  He didn't notice at all!!!

But my mom did.

When Kirk brought his piggy bank to my mom, she noticed that for all intents and purposes...save a couple cents...it was empty.  I remember my mom turning towards me, looking at my McDuck-sized money bag....back at Kirk's little angel eyes....then back to her hell-spawn of a daughter....then back to her innocent quarter-saving son.  She slowly and calmly asked me if I had any idea where Kirk's money had gone whilst staring directly at my silver-packed bag of change.  I had to think fast.  Of course I was going to lie, but what....how!?  I don't remember what I said, but I do remember what happened afterwards.  I got punished for being a sneaky, shameless liar and thief.  I had to give my brother back all of his money, plus half of mine.   As she doled out the punishment I sat on the floor of my room holding my empty money bag crying.

My brother came in my room and saw me crying and said to my mom, "It's okay Mommy....you can give it all to Katie.  I don't want it.  I don't care.....Don't cry, Katie (as he pats me), you can have it".

Why!?  Why did he do that???  

In that moment, even though I was 8, I remember thinking to myself....I know in my heart that I wouldn't have returned the favor if he had done the same to me.  If I were him, I would have gladly taken back all my money and relished in his tears.

I wish I could tell you that immediately following this revelation, we had an adorable Cosby-type moment where I hug Kirk and tell him how sorry I was, how much I love him, ask him to forgive me, and promise to never do it again.

But that's not what happened.  

I looked at my mom and said, "See!!!!  Kirk doesn't care....so, give it back!"  Yeah.  I know.  Awful.  Sick.  Selfish.  Horrible.  Mean.  Nasty.  My brother was willing to give me everything he had, even though I had totally plotted and planned against him, just so that I wouldn't be sad or get in trouble.

When I think of how I feel about my brother now, I just can't even imagine how I could have ever treated his soft little heart with such a lack of compassion and caring.  I didn't deserve his grace and mercy.  I didn't just accidentally hurt his feelings.  I actively and purposefully did something that I knew was wrong and that would directly hurt him and leave him with nothing.  Even after I rejected Kirk's kind words, I remember that he still wanted to hug me.  He hated to see me sad.  I felt so riddled with guilt and confusion about the whole thing, that I completely pushed him away.  I called him a name and yelled at him to get out of my room.  It's not because I didn't love him or feel bad; in fact, I wanted more than anything to run over and hug him, but I just felt so undeserving of his gesture.  

I stole that money from my brother because I thought there was something out there that I was going to miss out on.  I thought that if I didn't go out and get what I wanted for myself...no one was going to give it to me.  What I didn't know was that my mom was going to give me money to spend at the beach on top of the money I had saved just because she wanted me to have a good time.  My mom was getting ready to reward me, and I blew it because I felt that I had to take care of it on my own.  I felt like I didn't have enough.  I needed more.  Not only did I lose half of the money I had saved for months, but I missed out on the free gift my mom was going to give me just for being me and because she loved me.

Don't let guilt and fear keep you from the free gift of grace that Jesus offers.  He loves you, just for being you.  There is nothing you've ever done or will ever do that would make him take his love from you.  His kind of love and forgiveness is free...all you have to do is ask.  He wants to take your hard, hurting heart and heal it and make you new.  In exchange for eternal life, he just wants your old beat up life.  Maybe trading your junk in for a new life kinda sounds like Jesus is getting the raw end of the deal on this one, but believe me....he died for your junk so that you don't have to be buried by it.

My mom probably would have let me keep my money and given me the bonus cash if only I would have been honest when she first asked me, and told her I was sorry and asked she and Kirk to forgive me.

It was my pride, guilt, and stubbornness that kept me from getting my mom's gift.  Let's not let pride, guilt, and stubbornness keep us from God's free gift.

Can I get an AMEN!?!


The artist formerly known as "crazy, lying, rotten, horrible Katie"

Have you ever done something so dastardly, demented, or devious as a child? How do you get past your pride, guilt, and stubbornness and ask for/accept forgiveness?  Did your mom also have a keen backseat swatting hand?


  1. I cracked up reading this!!!! She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore :) All joking aside -- really made me think of some other things -- like life and we try to do too much on our own -- It comes down to not just hard work and passion, life comes down to faith and really believing that God will take care of us! Funny how these things are taught to us, naturally at such a young age! You go girl with your blog!!!

  2. Amen! Amen! I remember telling you that if you would be nice to Kirk, he would do anything for you. And now you are and now he would.
    Don't be too hard on that little girl. She turned out just fine. She has always been sweet and caring.
    The Left Arm Slugger, MOM

  3. Great post. In the words of the great poet Sean Combs / Puff Daddy / P Diddy: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems.

    One time, my sister and I had those cartoonishly large boxing gloves on at a church event and we were going to "box." When we went to shake hands before fighting, I windmilled my huge gloves on top of her head and dropped her. I laughed maniacally as the "ref" counted off for the knockout.

    This was last Tuesday.

    Kidding, but I did eventually grapple with some vague notion of regret.


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