When you think back on your childhood, there’s probably one thing over everything else that you feel your parents taught you. Whether it was brush your teeth or don’t play with yourself, it’s the primary thing you walked out of your childhood with. Mine wasn’t an action, it was a concept and I honestly believe it comes from how we were disciplined as children.

Spankings were the main form of deterent in our household as children. It was something you desperately wanted to avoid because those things hurt like hell. You always watched what you said and you made sure you never got into so much trouble that you warranted a spanking. For my sister and I, the hardest part of that was keeping our mouths shut. If you know us, you know we’re quite outspoken individuals. Not saying what we felt the need to say was almost impossible. In other words, both of us got the slap across the face quite a bit in our childhood. As for the spankings themselves, those didn’t happen very often at all. My sister never did anything so horrible as to warrant a spanking (though there were other incidents that could be considered worse) and I made sure I never got caught.

And how did I do that? Essentially, you weigh the options at hand and weigh the risks. What’s the probability that you’ll get caught in this extremely heinous crime? If it’s above 50% it’s iffy; above 60% you’re feeling pretty brave; above 70% it’s best to walk away. Generally speaking i wouldn’t go beyond 70%. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t get caught at some pretty horrible stuff. I did. But the stuff I got away with far out weighs the stuff I didn’t. Sure, I got caught shoplifting with a buddy but no one ever knew we were the ones that accidentally shattered the sliding glass door of a neighboring duplex the year before. (It really was an accident by the way). Yes, I got caught forging parent signatures on mid-terms but I never got caught sneaking out and spending the night at my girlfriend’s when her parents were out of town.

So, what’s the point of all this? Mainly that, as a child, I didn’t trust my parents. I couldn’t go to them with issues or questions. How that correlates to don’t get caught is pretty simple. I didn’t trust them so I didn’t feel the need to listen. I did however, watch. What I saw taught me that as long as you didn’t get caught, you’d be okay. (I learned a whole bunch else as well. I learned to respect woman, people of color are the same as everyone else, and that if you clean as you go in baking and cooking, the mess is less at the end.) My whole life has been shaped by the don’t get caught motto. I stopped shoplifting because I didn’t want to go to jail. I stopped speeding because I didn’t want to pay the tickets. I stopped stealing in general to avoid jail. In essence, I live my life by what I can get away with, not by what is right and wrong. I certainly know the difference between the two but I don’t make my decisions in life based on those things. Obviously there are some things I don’t do because I find them repulsive, rape for instance, but overall it’s a measure of the risk and the gain. These days, with my wife and children, the risk is never worth the gain.

“Where’s your moral compass?” you ask. I honestly do live my life by a moral code but those morals were influenced tremendously in their shaping by don’t get caught. What’s funny, is that I like who I am. I like my morals and I like my perspective. Does that mean I want my children to grow up like me? Probably not. I’m not sure what I’d want their one thing to remember from me to be but “don’t get caught” certainly isn’t it. The comforting thing is that I’ll probably never know what that one thing is. The scary thing is that I’ve most likely already taught it…