Have you heard the theory that there are countless parallel universes, that at particular moments in your life when one decision was made, another universe began with another you who lived the choice you didn’t make.
What moment in your childhood would change where you are now? Of course, perhaps it the small forgotten decision that made all the difference. You’re alive because you took an extra minute to tie your shoe and so you weren’t on your bike in the intersection when the truck ran the stop sign. But those moments you can never know.
When I look back I think about the day when I was in the 6th grade and my dad chose to believe his wife, my step-mother, instead of me. Perhaps I wouldn’t have gone to live with my mother. If hadn’t gone to live with my mother, she wouldn’t have needed to move. If she’d hadn’t have moved, we wouldn’t have ended up living with her boyfriend. I’d be telling a different story today.
What happened though was that my father said, “I don’t understand why you’d say that. She works hard to make our home nice. I want you to try harder. She’s had a hard life, and she only wants what’s best.”
In the string theory, not only is there a world where I stayed with my father, there is also a world where he and his second wife never got together at all. I like to think a me is out there who experienced a tranquil childhood.
That me probably wouldn’t be a writer.
When I decided to live with my mother, I needed to lie. I left for my summer visitation, and on the way out the door, I kissed my dad’s cheek. “See you in two weeks,” I said.
But in two weeks my dad didn’t see me. He didn’t see me for almost a year because the judge wouldn’t allow it. Maybe there’s a universe where the judge told me to return to my dad and step-mother. I don’t want to know that universe.
Our universe though remains the only one we have access to. It doesn’t do much good to tell a child in trouble–you’re okay in another universe.
Believe your child. When they’re older, they’ll remember the person who believed.