by Fylvia Fowler Kline
I have a problem embracing the earth—dirt in particular. And I passed this quirk on to my son. From the moment he opened his eyes, he learned to stay within the borders of a multi-colored patchwork quilt.
The quilt was his world, and I kept it cleaner than a surgeon’s prepped hands. Every time Jez slithered to the edge, I’d say “No” and put him back in the middle of the quilt. The quilt was his sanitary universe. Outside of the quilt, I was always armed with wet tissues and disinfectant spray. The patchwork quilt continued to be his world even at almost 6 feet and 12 years of age. He could never spread out on the carpet and watch TV—unless the quilt was under him.
Unfortunately, my idiosyncrasy became his paranoia. On picnics, he refused to sit on the grass. At dinnertime, he never let his hands touch anything but his fork. Swings on playgrounds had to be wiped down before his turn. He even refused brown M&M’s because he associated the color brown with dirt—He would carefully open a pack and separate the browns from the other colors.
Kenny, his brother, saw this as an opportunity of a lifetime to have twice the amount of M & M’s. He explained to Jez that if brown meant dirt, then chocolate, in all form, was dirty. Chocolate was brown. Break open a yellow M & M and it is brown on the inside!
Somewhere along the way, Jez realized his need for chocolate exceeded his bias towards the color brown. Or maybe it was the pain of handing over his share of chocolates to his older brother who made a big production of enjoying all the M&M’s. I don’t know.
Today, Jez loves chocolate. But he still has anxiety attacks when he comes in contact with dirt. He also regrets all the extra chocolate he missed out on during his prejudice-to-brown days.
Prejudice, almost always, results in loss. Don’t you think?