I remember it like it was yesterday. Well, not exactly; but it doesn’t seem like it has been sixteen years. By it I am referring to my first experience with a hard candy. I’m not certain that having your first hard candy is as memorable of a moment in the average person’s life as it was for me, but I’m sure many can recall the first time their parents allowed them to have one. For most kids having their first hard candy was a step toward maturity, similar to not relying on a diaper or training wheels on your bicycle. When I was growing up my parents raised me very old fashioned. They were strict with me and extremely careful about what I was doing at all times, so I didn’t have much say in my childhood steps of maturity. Except for the time when I had my first hard candy.
“Chris! Come over here, look what we got!” shouted my cousin Tommy.
“What is it?” I questioned as I hurried away from my parents and toward the playground.
My cousins slowly revealed a little bag of candy.
“They’re called Warheads. They’re hard candies that I got from Jack. They’re really sour and good, you gotta try one!” Tommy offered me one, sticking his hand out toward me.
My initial thought was fear of my parents finding out because they have never allowed me to have a hard candy before. They told me that I was too young and that they were dangerous for kids to have because they could easily slip down their throats and cause kids to choke. I tried to tell Tommy this, but he assured me that I’ll be fine and my parents wouldn’t find out. Reluctantly, I snagged the blue Warhead from my cousin’s palm and just stared at it for a moment. I knew I wanted to try it.
“Just do it Chris, you’re five years old you should be able to handle a hard candy.” Tommy pressured me.
In hindsight, I felt as if this was the childhood version of being peer pressured to smoke weed for the first time. In the moment it just felt so serious. After a few minutes, I finally mustered the courage to throw that sour little devil into my mouth. I immediately felt the foreign taste that I would later refer to as sour. It made my taste buds tingle and my face swell inward like I was anticipating being slapped. Merely seconds into my first experience with a hard candy in my mouth, the warnings of my parents would soon begin to haunt me.
Standing beneath the jungle gym with my two cousins on a beautiful summer day, the Warhead I had eaten decided to ruin what could have been a good memory of my childhood. Only a few seconds into sucking on the candy it slipped right down my throat and became stuck. I couldn’t breathe. My face turned red and I sent a panicked look in my cousins’ direction. I grabbed my throat in a desperate attempt to explain to them I had been choking on that damn sour candy. They quickly yelled for our parents, who frantically came rushing to me. My mom knelt down and grabbed me with the most worried look I have ever seen on her face. I was only five and I seriously thought I was going to die.
“Christopher can you breathe at all? Try coughing! Can you cough?” uttered my mother. Obviously I couldn’t reply with words so I just shook my head and continued trying to cough and breath or swallow or spit up the candy.
After about twenty seconds without a real breath, I was finally able to utter a cough. My mom hugged me and then held me with a giant sigh of relief. She told me that coughing means that the airway in my throat wasn’t completely blocked anymore and that I was going to be fine. What shocked me the most at this point was that my parents and my aunt and uncle weren’t disappointed in my decision to go against their rules. In fact, my parents never decided to further implement their rules with me more so than they usually did. I think they realized that this was the ultimate learning experience I could have gone through. To this very day I have refused to ever try another Warhead or any other similar candies. Whenever my sister and I see Warheads in the candy section of a store we always flip off the candy and look at each other and start laughing hysterically. Although I realize that it’s not the candy’s fault that I choked, it’s still natural to me to dislike Warheads. I don’t foresee that changing in the future.
Like most kids, growing up under my parents’ supervision meant that I had to deal with a number of their ground rules. Many of which I did not understand. In addition to the no hard candies rule, my mom wouldn’t allow me to eat dessert before my dinner, she would make me brush my teeth every night before I went to bed, and even tell me to be nice to my sister. At the time I didn’t understand why certain rules were so important. I didn’t see the harm to eating dessert out of turn every once in a while and I never understood why she thought that shooting rubber bands could poke someone’s eye out. But, now that I’m older I can understand the sense of consistency that my parents sought to instill in me as a child. Not only do I get along with my sister as a young adult, I also have never had a cavity before nor am I fat. Therefore, my parents taught me numerous important lessons throughout my life and even though I had to learn the hard way with the Warheads incident, I learned that despite everything, my parents will always be looking out for my best interest.
Another food incident in which I learned a similar moral was the time when I first became sick from drinking too much. It was my freshman year of college and like any college newbie I was ecstatic about going to my first real college party. All that was on my mind was having a good time and getting extremely intoxicated. Now, my parents warned me to be very careful with drinking. They didn’t want me to be tempted to drive after I had been drinking or become sick form drinking too much, and they were worried that I would get myself into trouble since I was underage. Similar to their warnings of the dangers to eating hard candies as a child, my parents warned me constantly about alcohol.
After scrambling around my dorm searching for possible party house numbers, my roommate and I were finally on the brink to going to our first college party. It was a frat party and would require us to pay five dollars to get in and to have access to the keg. However, we didn’t want to show up to the party sober so we pooled out money together to buy a handle of liquor to drink before we left our dorm room. Ignoring all the warnings of our parents, my roommate and I drank our liquor like we were dehydrated from running a marathon. We didn’t know our limits as far as alcohol consumption was concerned nor did we care. When we finally got to the party it was surreal. It was like what we had seen in all of the movies. The party was so packed that you couldn’t move without brushing up against somebody. The buzz from the liquor was feeling great and with beer on tap the night looking more than promising. My first college party was turning out to be a great night until later in the night everything took a turn for the worst.
Most people understand that alcohol not only makes it easier for a person to relax and socialize, but can also make you feel like you have food poisoning. Both of these understandings were included in my first college party night. Around midnight, my stomach started to kill. In a matter of a few seconds I went from having the night of my life to wishing that I had never sipped an ounce of alcohol in my life. I ditched all the friends that I would have inevitably forget the next morning to run outside and find a quiet place to collect myself. I ran around the side of the house into an alleyway and knelt down on my knee and held my stomach. The terrible pains were only getting worse as I anxiously waited for my body to decide to throw up the extreme amount of alcohol in my system. All I could think about in the meantime was that my parents were yet again right. They told me so. Just like the time I went against their word to eat the damn Warhead, I disobeyed their advice to be careful with my drinking. Needless to say, I ended up being sick a few times that night and feeling terrible the next morning.
In the end, through both incidents I learned that I should listen to my parents’ advice. I could have avoided learning these lessons the hard way if I would have simply listened to them. The only difference between the two incidents, however, is that I don’t refuse to drink ever again; just to drink more carefully.