“Anna, can you walk a little slower and more prettily?” said my mom during a rehearsal for a wedding our family had been invited to attend. “And don’t just throw the petals towards the ground. Throw them a little higher.”
This was the second wedding where I had been a flower girl. I didn’t particularly enjoy the task. I was more of a tomboy (an effect of growing up with a brother who is only one year older) and much preferred wearing overalls to lacy dresses. Being so young at the time, I didn’t understand all the fuss over weddings and why I would have to be dolled up just to walk down the aisle and fling rose petals around.
I tried to move more gracefully, but my mom and other people told me I needed to walk more “prettily.” That night at the post-rehearsal dinner, a friend of the bride’s mother sat next to me with her husband while I was devouring crab legs.
“Anna, if you do well at the wedding tomorrow, I’ll buy you a gift,” said the woman. I looked up at her with a mouthful of crab meat.
“Really?” I said. “You will?” The idea of getting something out of this tiresome ceremony enticed me.
“Yes, but only if you walk really prettily tomorrow,” the woman replied. At her words, I began to feel more excited about being a flower girl.
The next day, I did my most elegant walk down the aisle, tossing petals into the air as the bride followed after me. I stared at the lady who promised me a gift while I went down towards the altar.
Did she see me? I’m doing a good job, right? I want that gift!
After the wedding though, I never saw that woman again and she never gave me the gift she promised. I’m in my 20s now and of course, I’m not upset at all that she didn’t follow through on her word (though I think I may have been when I was a kid), but I find it intriguing that I still remember that she didn’t do as she promised.
As a child, whenever an adult told me something, I accepted it as truth. So whenever an adult broke a promise he or she made to me, it would disturb me—so much so that I couldn’t forget it. Since I’ve experienced firsthand how broken promises—however small or big, trivial or significant—can linger in a child’s memory, I try not to make promises I can’t keep, especially not to little kids.