Friday, July 8, 2011


I overheard one of my sons’ friends bragging the other day while he apparently thought I couldn’t hear him. He was not bragging about an exceptional performance on the baseball diamond. He was not rubbing a hard fought video game victory in his friends’ faces.

What he was bragging about was the Jedi-level mind control he believes he possesses over his mother.

“She believes me no matter what,” he said. At first I smiled at this thinking of the comfort a child receives in knowing that their parents are on their side. But the innocence was soon shattered when he added, “I threw a rock at my window and broke it and told my mom it wasn’t me and she believed me.”

I wasn’t sure if I should be impressed or horrified. It would be one thing if the method by which he tricked his mother took some skill. Maybe he was a wordsmith and painted a tale about some stranger, a shifty looking drifter, no doubt, who rode past on a bike and chucked the rock at him. When he barely dodged it in time, it sailed instead through the window and the hobo pedaled off with a raspy, sinister laugh. Perhaps he was more of a prop man and concocted a complicated story, left some throwing stars lying about in the yard and blamed ninjas. Or he could have gone the sentimental rout and started crying like Ralphie from A Christmas Story (second time I’ve referenced that movie this week) as if he was somehow mysteriously hurt, causing his mother to be so concerned with his wellbeing that she never bothered to try and understand the gibberish he was blubbering about how the window was broken, she was just glad he was okay.

Regardless of the details, I saw an opportunity and I took it. “It’s not very nice to lie to your mother,” I shouted from the other room.

My remark was met with absolute silence.

I continued doing what I was doing in the other room as they all whispered to one another and eventually went into a different part of the house to play. I knew that the significance of what had just taken place was not lost on them. It was one for me, zero for that particular kid. I am now the proud owner of a chip I can cash in at some point.

Seeing as he is only eight years old, I will more than likely have to exercise patience with this. When he hits his teenage years, I’ll need my lawn mowed or my car washed and I’ll conveniently engage him in conversation.

“How’s school? That’s nice. Good for you. By the way, I need my gutters cleaned out this weekend and I was thinking that it would be a shame if your mother ever found out that you were the one who broke the window six years ago. Eight A.M. on Saturday would be fine.”

Come to think of it, eavesdropping on my sons and their friends might be a good way to get some added chores around the house done in a timely manner. I ought to go dig out the baby monitor and see what dirt I can get on each of them. A notebook to keep records may be appropriate. Who needs Jedi mind tricks when you have good, old-fashioned bribery?

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