When I was little, perhaps between the ages of three to five, I experienced a messy huff one day.
A country girl and a tomboy to boot, I had been playing outside when I was called in to take a bath or some other reason which angered me.
I was running around barefoot. I imagine my parents were trying to corrall this wild redheaded girl child as she flitted about the house (and probably back outside a few times). My big sisters undoubtably tried to similarly try to talk me into coming in to take a bath. I’m sure my fingernails were dirty, my clothes too.
There was a small corner in the dining room which was part of the entryway to the hallway that led to the bathrooms in the house. I often had too much energy and had to spend horribly uncomfortable time outs with my nose stuck in that corner. Oh, how I wiggled and itched and moaned injustice at having to stand still and not be doing what I wanted to be doing instead.
I am pretty sure that on this particular occasion I had been put in time out for disobeying and that I had very dirty feet, for at some point I angrily stamped my foot against the wall, right at the bottom of the corner. I left an imprint of my foot there. I was sure that my misstep along the wall was going to land me in deeper time out or worse, so ever the sneaky youngest child, I walked away when timeout was over, failing to mention that I had made a messy print on the wall. I waited and waited to be found out and claim ignorance — I mean, I didn’t intend to put the footprint there, it just happened.
Yet I was never asked about the footprint.
Years went by and I thought that my parents had just never noticed the footprint. That seemed crazy though because it was really obvious that it was there. No one ever mentioned it!
When I was 14, I was cleaning up somewhere in the house and got inspired to finally correct my mistake. A swipe of a paper towel and windex did the trick. I noticed that after I wiped my footprint away that at some point my father had actually painted around it. The paint where my print had been and the paint around it were slightly different shades of white.
My heart sank. All this time, they’d known about the print and wanted it there. At 14, I didn’t have the same cute sized feet as I had had ten years before, so I knew that I couldn’t recreate it. I had not really solved a problem that I had been avoiding for years. It made me sad to know that I had erased this little time stamp.
When I told my father, I am sure we both were sad about it. It’s funny to me that I had held my breath so often when my eyes spotted that print over the years. How could they not see it? I had wondered.
They not only saw it, but they treasured it and the memory of my days as a young child. I guess it was only fitting that I was the one who actually removed it from the wall.
We moved houses the following year and I still think about that house and yard where I had the pleasure of beginning my life. The experiences there with my family, our pets, our holidays, our games, our many happenings all left footprints on my heart that I will never erase.