I remember when I “lost” my first diary. I was around 6, and it broke my heart when I realized it wasn’t in its usual place under my bed.
That same day, I vividly remember going shopping with my dad and seeing a girl from my class going through the bins of a thrift store with her mom. I felt bad for her, something I don’t remember feeling before that moment, and a feeling I couldn’t explain to myself at that age.
Mostly, I think, I felt bad for her because in class she always seemed so overly confident and competitive. She would make rude remarks about other people’s arts and crafts, and insist her handwriting exercises were better than yours. She always wore pigtails with big, bright pink hair clips on the sides. I somehow resented her confidence, because I had always been a reserved child and could not bring myself to snap back at her. Soon, though, I was glad I never did.
My diary was one-of-a-kind. It wasn’t expensive or handcrafted (well, not entirely). It had come in a box with stickers and jewels, the instructions encouraging eager little girls to decorate their own princess diary with the attached decorations. I’d decorated both the diary and the box, my name sloppily spelt out on both with pink and purple rhinestones in a way that only I could recognize the letters. It was unique, because I had made it that way. Each page was filled with drawings and messy attempts at writing legible sentences. To the untrained eye, it was all gibberish, but the contents of the diary meant everything to me. It was a diary, after all, and it was personal to me.
My young and oblivious mind had quickly gotten over the heartbreak of the loss when I went to class one morning, maybe a week or two after. I was not expecting anything in particular that day, when I walked into my first grade classroom. While I sat down at my desk, I noticed she was showing off something. I approached, curious to know what the object of everyone’s attention was.
A flash of pink sparked my attention, and I immediately recognized what it was. My box.
From that moment, everything is a blur. I don’t remember how I processed my emotions. I remember I confronted her in front of everyone, and called her a thief for somehow stealing my diary which never left my room. I remember saying very nasty things, things that a 6 year old says without thinking of the consequences or how it may affect others.
What I do remember is the aftermath— my mother admitting that she had thrown out my box with its precious contents, thinking it was of no use for me and donating it with a pile of other toys I was too old to play with. I remember connecting the dots at that moment, and feeling bad for what I’d said in front of my classmates, while also feeling betrayed by my mother.
I don’t remember ever speaking to that girl again. Children don’t hold grudges, supposedly, but I feel like what happened in class that day affected us both a lot.
My mother was never a great parent to me, she never respected my privacy or my belongings; something I think I realized at that time. Still, I feel like this taught me a lesson at a young age, maybe even two:
- Words can hurt, and they have to be thought out and measured.
- You never know what goes on in other people’s lives, and it’s useless to react in anger or frustration. It’s better to talk things through calmly.
Also, material things are inconsequential, especially next to other people’s feelings. I moved around a lot after that, and any diary I had growing up I lost somewhere between two houses.
I don’t know specifically why I was thinking of this moment right now, but I think of it often and thought it fitting for a first entry…