“Avery……. No!”

Sorry to yell Avery, I’m just practicing. I do hope your a good kid, or better yet, I hope I can guide you towards being a good kid, as all parents intend to do. But I’m afraid I have to tell you the truth about myself in regards to this topic, I wasn’t a good kid. I think most people go through a phase when they decide to act like an asshole and do some embarrassingly awful things. All that stuff is pretty common, and I hope to be there for you, when your social rebellion crosses the line and parental consequences need to step in.

When I was young, the word “no” was said to me many times; and mostly, I disobeyed. I never shoved my rebellion in their face, instead I hid it by a combination of stealth and luck. I created my own world and lived by my own rules, and the only rule was, don’t ever get caught.

Of these rebellious memories, my absolute favorite was sneaking out at night. I would meet two of my friends in a backyard every night for about a month straight. We wouldn’t do anything horrible, instead we embarked on random adventures into the night. With our authority figures sound asleep, we were free from the shackles of obedience. Mostly, we would just hop fences and explore a strangers property; sometimes we would purposefully get chased by an occasional harmless dog. At our worst we would get creative with lawn ornaments, and rearrange them onto the next door neighbors yard, and see if they would be relocated the next night. Unfortunately, like all good things, they come to an end; our innocent gang of three expanded into a savage pack of nine. Our innocent adventures escalated with mob mentality and became property destroying chaos. Lawn ornaments were smashed or stolen, front doors would be soaked in the urine of uncivil youth. It wasn’t long before our fantasy world crashed to reality when a cop finally spotted us. It was my first true adult experience, the sensation of running for a true purpose, no gym teacher holding a stop-watch, no collie harmlessly nipping at our heels, this was the real world, and consequence was pursuing me on foot. The group split up and sprinted for freedom. I got home safely, and instantly made an unspoken decision, to not sneak out ever again.

Although I got out clean, I still had no respect for consequences. My parents thought I was a good kid, and so did the rest of the civil world. Yet I still had a palpable desire to go against the grain at every chance. This confident disregard held true, especially with my confidence as a swimmer. Water was my new fantasy world without rules, especially while fully submerged, I felt like nobody could tell me what to do, If I could just stay under water. I explored this fantasy with arrogance and total disregard to all safety. I would dive into the shallowest pools, head first, without a second thought. I would tackle the tallest and sketchiest rope swings in any lake, without ever spotting my landing. Just like everything else, luck carried me through these adventures unscathed for many years. Then one random summer weekday, I had the house to myself, and I decided to swim alone. I had been swimming in the same pool for many years, and I had dove cleanly into it hundreds of times, and it became a routine behavior. On this day, I dove in, and misjudged my angle. I smashed into the bottom of the pool head first; my neck crumpled and crunch into my shoulders as my vision distorted with a flash of white light. I was frozen in a moment of shock, yet I remained conscious, and pulled myself out of the pool. I violently shook in fear, and I kept thinking that any second I was about to become a paraplegic. As I began to calm down, I started to realize that in this exact situation, if one element of this moment had varied just the tiniest bit, I could have drowned to death. The very same Mother that gave birth to me, would have came home from work to find her first-born child floating dead in the pool. I thought long and hard about this moment, Avery, and I loathed my recklessness. I still think of this moment, every time I swim to this day, even though I still feel the temptation to challenge the authority of “life”, I always jump in feet first.

It’s a very frightening idea, teaching a person the difference between wrong and right, and to be honest, were still just as confused as you. But I promise to try my best, and I can at least hope that you take after your mother on this subject, cause I probably should be dead.

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