One summer morning, when I was about 10 years old, my mother — before she left for work — gave me instructions for the day.
“Keep an eye on your sister, and make her lunch,” she said hurriedly. ”Oh, and I bought some blueberries last night; they’re in the refrigerator. Please wash them so they’re ready for dessert tonight. You can have a few, but don’t eat too many.”
Then off she went to her job, and off I went to my “work” washing the berries. My sister, four years my junior, was soon on my heels, so I pulled a chair up to the sink and told her to help me.
“Can we eat some?” she asked.
“Mom said not to eat too many,” I replied.
“Okay, let’s only eat the biggest ones,” came my little sister’s response.
So we ate only the biggest berries, happily discovering that other berries — which only moments earlier had not been big enough to eat — were now the new biggest ones in the bowl. So we ate those, too.
That evening, when my mother returned home from work to discover that we’d eaten all the blueberries, I defended myself and my sister by describing exactly how we’d eaten only the biggest ones. It was an exasperatingly logical and convincing defense when I explained it just so, and my winning argument not only won us a reprieve from punishment, but it reinforced my newly burgeoning dream of becoming a lawyer.
It was a long, long time, however, before I was again permitted to wash berries unsupervised.