The Games Children Play
It started out as many things do: When I was just a child. I guess as evil as he was, Hitler was on the money when he said that the best way to indoctrinate is when they’re young. Though, in my case, it was my own brain trying to warp my sense of self before I even had it.
I’d probably say my first memories of a problem were of the games we all played as children. The first one I remember was classic:
“Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back!”
While, sure, I initially was horrified that my arbitrary carelessness could have put my mother in the hospital, I learned quickly that it made no difference. I mean, I stepped on plenty of cracks in the floor but my mom was still healthy enough to chase after me when I clogged the toilet.
The thing is, even if I knew it wasn’t true, I couldn’t stop playing the game. For some reason, there was a very real sense of dread that “something” might happen if I lost my footing. I remember at the time wondering what was wrong that I kept playing long after the kids around me moved on, stepping on cracks in the pavement with abandon. After a while, I chalked it up to superstition and hummed a few bars of Stevie Wonder’s big hit while avoiding gaps in the pavement.