I started my young life as an entrepreneur.
I have an early memory of selling tiny scissors I made from splicing two little flowering weed sprouts together.
I was four years old.
I worked on those creations in our back yard for over an hour, then borrowed a white dish towel from my mother’s kitchen drawer and covered a dinner plate with it. I placed my art pieces carefully on the plate, then headed off down our street with the intention of selling them.
I went door to door with my miniature weed scissors, smiling and tossing off my four-year old sales pitch to each neighbor. I’d ring the doorbell and when they answered and appeared at all interested, I set my plate down. Then I demonstrated how to magically make these tiny green things move by working the two halves of the buds back and forth, the scissor action moving the miniature flowers.
“What do we do with them?” one neighbor asked.
“They just look pretty”, I answered. I thought that was enough.
Then I pocketed my 3 pennies and moved on with my plate of scissor-flowers to the next house.
I got all the way to the end of our street when, right in the middle of my spiel to the last neighbor I felt a tug on my arm. I turned around, then looked up to see my mother. Her eyes blazed, her teeth clenched, her hand squeezed my arm. “What are you doing?”, she hissed, then apologized to the neighbor.
She proceeded to march me back down the street, door to door, and made me give back every penny, forcing me to apologize each time.
It was an early attempt at conversion therapy. And it didn’t work.
I couldn’t understand what I did wrong. I made something pretty and people paid me for it. Why was that bad?
My mother, needless to say, did not share my enthusiasm for art or sales. She disapproved of my career choice then, and she disapproved of every career choice I’ve made since then, till the day she died.
If my mother’s relentless and unceasing efforts had paid off, I’d be currently celebrating my wedding anniversary to my high school boyfriend, going to church 5 times a week surrounded by the four perfectly behaved and solemn children I homeschooled as a stay-at-home mom, chubby and well-fed from the three square meals I cooked for them from scratch. Every day.
She never approved of my work, or any woman working outside the home and in point of fact discouraged and disparaged it. Yet, as much as I wanted to please my mother, I was who I was, and I am who I am, still. It was obvious and apparent who I was when I was four and nothing she did or could have done would make me into someone else.
It’s usually like that with children.