I have a confession. An admission of guilt that I’ve been too ashamed to confess until now. An incident of the most heinous betrayal that could very well jeopardise my relationship with my mother. Seldom has there been an experience that I look back on with penitent remorse as I do when recall this odious deed. In my repentant defence I was young, completely unabashed by my insatiable curiosity to discover where the secret lies, what restricted alcove concealed my Christmas present.
It was December 2001. For months I had indicated with less than sophisticated tact to my mother that it might be nice, if it wasn’t too much trouble to request a Gameboy Advance as my primary gift for Christmas. I made no attempt to influence what games came with it nor solicited a specific colour of the GBA, I just wanted one. Now my mother is a wise and astute women, well-trained in the art of concealing items from an inquisitive prodigy who dedicated 20 hours of their day to not leaving the house. She was also foolish enough to leave me alone in our home trusting that I would never violate the unspoken treaty between parent and child that forbade the invasion my mother’s bedroom. She was wrong.
After a number of failed exhumation in drawers and cupboards, rifling under a bed cluttered with boring bank statements and other mundane declarations I finally discovered a suspicious package suppressed under bags of old clothes and board games in the bowels of the integrated wardrobe. I was careful not to disturb the delicately assembled bric-a-brac that cluttered this small dark chasm, making a mental note of the order in which certain items were stacked so I could put them back in order. There wrapped in an unassuming indistinct plastic bag was a box containing my purple GBA. As I gazed upon its alluring packaging, seducing me with its captivating images I couldn’t restrain myself any longer.
I opened the box, relieved that the seal had already been cut, probably inspected by my mother to verify the contents. I removed the device from its corrugated confines and inserted “Mario Kart: Super Circuit” that also partnered my temporarily pilfered Christmas present. Using batteries from my arcane Gameboy, so as not to arouse suspension as to why the batteries contained won’t work come Christmas morning and I played. In fact I played it surreptitiously for weeks, winning every 50cc race, as well as a handful of 100cc contests. In fact by the time Christmas jingled its way to me I’d almost half-finished it.
Of course once my mother had carefully wrapped the gift in preparation for Christmas my interactions had to be suspended. Then once the day came I had to replicate a performance worthy of the genuine childish giddiness I’d exert as a boisterous pre-teen on Christmas morning. I was no Daniel Day-Lewis, but convincing enough to belie my condemning duplicity. Again though it’s not something I look back on with pride. Not only did I deceive my own mother but also cheated myself of that special Christmas day reveal we all remember as kids. Waking up early, coaxing your parents from their own deep slumber just so you can eagerly tear into those presents lavishing the base of the tree like a ravenous feral dog that’s been starved for weeks. I don’t have that memory, that experience of unveiling a games console I really wanted, but didn’t know I’d get. I regret that decision and regret the deceit, but most importantly: mum, I’m sorry.