We all have experiences that help to shape us. I think most of the time, we don't remember the more influential experiences. However, I've been blessed with a good memory and attention to detail. It's unfortunate that these things don't transfer very well into my school or employment. It kinda blows, actually.
We moved to Utah when I was five years old. I remember standing at the door to my kindergarten class with my mom as Mrs. Milner introduced me to the other five-year-olds. I distinctly remember being embarrassed and shy. I hung my head as I went to my desk. I also remember one of my five-year-old peers had a cast on her leg. It looked like most of the other students had already signed it. The fact that I hadn't been there to sign her cast two days earlier made me immediately feel like an outsider... and it was only my first day.
I don't remember specifically making friends, but one memory of my first week of school stands out to me. Mrs. Milner had all of the students sit in a circle, Indian Style (totally not politically correct nowadays) as she read a story to us. Before she started the story, I remember she pulled out a huge bag of regular M&M's. The whole class got pretty excited. As she opened the bag, she said, "I'm going to give each of you 10 M&M's and I don't want you to eat them, okay? Did everyone hear me? Do not eat these M&M's until I say it's ok." We all expressed our excited understanding. Mrs Milner gave each of her 25 students 10 M&M's. I remember there were students in front of me and behind me. Luckily, I had enough room to place my M&M's on the ground in front of me, careful to put enough space between my candy and the five-year-old butt sitting in front of me.
Mrs Milner started explaining what was about ready to take place, but I was still staring at my M&M's. I counted them about 50 times... just to make sure I really had 10 of them. Mrs. Milner started reading a story to us about a little boy and his pet cow or something. After she finished the first page she stopped reading. I looked up at her and then around at my fellow students trying to figure out what was going on. After three seconds, I realized that I had inadvertently looked away from my candy and I quickly looked back down at them to make sure they were all still there. Luckily, while she was reading, I had grouped them up into colors so it was easier to account for all 10.
Then Mrs. Milner spoke. She said, "Who can tell me what the little boys name was?" A boy with greasy hair raised his hand and said, "Joey." Mrs. Milner said, "That's right" and then handed him an eleventh M&M. Up until that point, I had no idea that we would be rewarded for correct answers. I was ecstatic. I hadn't been listening, but I figured it didn't really matter. Mrs. Milner said, "What color was Joey's cow?" I raised my hand. I had no idea what the answer was, but I'd seen plenty of photos of cows. She called on me. I was so excited. "Black and white." She replied, "Nope. Sorry. It was brown. Give me one of your M&M's."
I'm sure my first reaction was confusion. That didn't dissuade Mrs. Milner. She held out her hand, waiting for me to give her one of my M&M's. I had no idea that a wrong answer meant I had to give up one of my M&M's. I hadn't listened to the instructions for this stupid activity. I looked down at my M&M groupings and thought about which color I was willing to give up. Mrs Milner didn't like the fact that I was stalling. She asked me, again, to give her an M&M. I wanted to cry. Not figuratively. I literally felt my bottom lip starting to quiver as I picked up a brown M&M (I had more of those than the other colors) and handed it to her. She continued to read the book.
I listened to her retarded story as she continued to read. She asked easy questions and kids kept answering and getting more and more M&M's. But I didn't raise my hand again. I looked down at my nine M&M's and decided that even if I KNEW the answer, I wasn't going to risk losing another M&M. I was guaranteed nine M&M's. I knew those were mine. I knew it. So why would I take a chance and risk losing another M&M? No way.
Even though I remember all of those details, I don't remember eating my M&M's. I just remember my overwhelming sadness at losing one of them. I'm not sure what lesson I took away from that experience, but I'm positive it wasn't the intended lesson.
How does this experience translate into my attitude toward girls, relationships, my testimony, furthering my education, and magnifying my calling?
I have no idea, but when I figure it out, I'm totally gonna use this experience (and its related spiritual analogy) in my next sacrament meeting talk.