My friend is a jail warden this week. All suspects in her house under 5 feet have been tried and unanimously found guilty. The charge is treason. Normally, she’s a mom with 4 perfect children.
She called me, I commiserated with her, secretly feeling secure in my children’s solid upbringing. Thankfully, my kids would never do the things she’s in lock-down over. Oh, wait, they have pulled the first two of the shenanigans she mentioned. Actually, they’ve done all but one of those things. Come to think of it, I know someone’s tried that last exploit on me before, too. I renege. It was my cousin’s kid who committed the last crime.
Agitated by the evidence pointing in the general direction of my sweet darlings, I promise to visit the next day with a bottle of wine and quickly hang up.
My husband’s voice drones across the PA system of my memory, “The kids have proven they’re not trustworthy, so why do you fall for their tricks every time?” The bleak words crackle and die, allowing elevator music to resume in my head. I know he’s probably right, but when has he ever seen the kid’s tears of remorse or their fervent, head-nodding promises? Witnessing it, anyone would know that our children are, for the most part, honest individuals. They just slip up every six months or so. A little redirection and all is back on track.
I mull it over. Deep down, I know that by this time next year my friend will probably be congratulating herself over her well-behaved children---while I’m playing posse, sheriff, AND jail guard here at my house.
Honestly, in the whole conspiracy of things, you never know when those kids could pull the big one. And they might do it over and over again—in the same week. Speed dial would seem sluggish compared to their rapid successions. Watching a sibling go through the gas chamber, they would still march forward, trying the exact same stunt. Another child is sentenced to the firing squad, and the riffraff blatantly continues forcing me to ask, “Have I gotten slower in my old age or has the competition gotten quicker?” Even the same kid turns around, right after the wet, sloppy “sorry” that I’ve demanded he repeat from Day 5, to do it again. Who’s been raising these kids?
While driving in the car today, I asked my son if he thought I was on the side of the kids or the adults. I meant it in the context of a fun-loving struggle between the two. He said, “Definitely the kids, Mom.” I had an inside chuckle over that one—even after all this time, I’ve got him fooled! Or maybe I’m not as scary to him as I think.
I just tucked in my three precious kids. The first smelled suspiciously of Christmas bonbons. The second of chocolate-covered pretzels. The last was visibly innocent; my good-sense tells me not to trust it. Perturbed, I threatened them with the guillotine and walking the plank. My—but the English language was never spoken so quickly! In 5 seconds they had cleared up any misunderstandings on where exactly they stood in their crimes. The result: I discovered that not one piece of apple I’d served earlier was ever digested. What a let-down.
I was outraged to be played for a fool! I ordered the first two to re-brush their teeth. For good measure, I marched the third into the bathroom with them.
After glancing at their teeth, threatening, and passing out a stringent sentence to each offender, I felt calmer. Or maybe resigned in my sad disappointment.
I wonder if there is one scrap of moral code within my children. How many times have they plotted and stealthily circumvented me—so neatly—flying under the radar of adult detection? How many months, years are they ahead of me in the tactics of subterfuge and guerilla warfare? The burden weighs in upon me. It would be easier to give in, to let them win.
My only mournful condolence is that I’ve outwitted and out-maneuvered them this one night. I have one successful raid under my belt, one victory to my credit. Unless— My sixth-sense radar is flashing red. I should probably inspect the toothbrushes.