When I was a child, and continuing into my youth, I found that being sneaky was a great way to keep my mind occupied.
I studied the world around me in minute detail, I found that a lot of information could be gleaned from subtle hints.
And then I used that information.
I could tell little things. While lying in bed I could tell which way a car was passing our house by the sound it made. I could tell, even through the wall between our rooms, if my brother was asleep by his breathing. That was easier if he was snoring.
I could tell by the weight and tempo of footsteps on the stairway whether or not my father or my mother was going down stairs to start the day.
I could tell by the light through my tiny window and the sound of the wind, what kind of day it was out.
And the sneaky part?
If it was a Saturday morning and my mother was already up, I’d wait until my brother got up before I did. If you got up first, my mom usually had a bunch of chores for you to do. They were things she needed done, she wasn’t punishing anyone for getting up early.
And in truth, I didn’t mind doing things for her. Sometimes I’d get up just to be the one that got to interact with her in the morning when she was at her most joyful, though she was joyous throughout the day.
I guess it was mostly brotherly competition. I liked knowing I was manipulating his life in some small way.
The worst example of this was one time he and I were playing in his room. I remember that we were sitting on the floor and playing with some kind of toy or toys, don’t remember what they were, but we were having fun.
Ha! Well, my mother called my name. But more than that, she called it in that questioning tone she had that told me she was looking for someone to do some task, take out the compost, go get potatoes from the root cellar, something like that.
My brother and I looked at each other and went silent. My mother called my name again, and still we did not respond.
What did I hope to gain?
I can’t say that I knew what good not responding would do me, but my brother was going along with it.
Then she stopped calling my name and changed to calling his name. We were less than a year apart in age and pretty much interchangeable when it came to doing chores.
And my innocent brother?
He smiled at me, realizing I had given him the means of avoiding whatever errand mom wanted us for. I looked at him and thought … mom needs something done, and my brother really shouldn’t be so trusting of me.
So the second time mom called his name, I smiled back at him and, in a perfect imitation of his voice (they weren’t that different to begin with), I replied to my mother, “Yes?”
My brother was on the hook for whatever it was. Man, if looks could wound I’d have bled to death from the daggers he stared at me.
And my punishment?
My brother never really trusted me again.
Oh, and I didn’t have to do whatever the chore was.
Oh, and I got all the toys to play with while he was gone.
Oh, and I learned I had a very great super power, I was sneaky, and I vowed never again to use my power for evil … now I only use it for slightly bad stuff, but nothing evil.