If you think you know about all of the things your kids did growing up, think again.
I thought my daughter, Kate, was the perfect child. She was valedictorian of her high school. She was undefeated on her tennis team. She won state debate tournaments, graduated from Northwestern University and landed a job with Paramount Studios, where her first assignment was marketing the motion picture “Forrest Gump.”
I could have easily gone on with this utopian view of my daughter, but recently over dinner, some childhood truths were revealed.
When Jeff, my son and Kate’s older brother, was nine, he broke a prized antique rocking chair while Kate was doing her homework at the kitchen table. Unlike his sister, Jeff had a flair for creative mischief. He attempted to cover up the damaged chair by wrapping the broken leg with adhesive tape and using a black crayon to match the color. The ruse was quickly discovered, and I lined up Jeff and Kate for questioning. Jeff admitted total guilt, saving his little sister from any unfair punishment.
But as it was revealed to me, the real story went like this: Kate and Jeff were playing make-believe, and Kate wanted him to be an elephant. She put the antique rocking chair on his back and climbed aboard, the queen of some ancient country. As this fantasy queen looked over her realm (the living room), the chair leg she was standing on broke. The quick-thinking queen then offered to pay Jeff a week’s allowance if he took the blame and resulting consequences.
This turned out to be the same “perfect daughter” who, for years, unwrapped and then rewrapped every gift for Jeff and herself that was under the Christmas tree. Kate received a small “allowance bonus” from Jeff for her meticulous skill set. Days before Christmas morning, they would practice with each other looks of surprise and pleasure as they opened their presents in front of their parents.
The bottom line is that both Jeff and Kate grew up to be responsible, caring parents. Now, they stroll around thinking they know every detail of their kids’ activities.
Ha! I’m the grandpa now and I’ve been privy to some fun and secret goings-on. Jeff and Kate will have to wait for a decade or two to catch up.