I Hear The Secrets That You Keep

Living with four boys is scary for a multitude of reasons. Everything in my house is broken. And I’m not using that in a hyperbolic sense. Literally everything in it is in less than mint condition. And that includes the kids themselves. They beat on each other constantly. Alex got stabbed in the arm with a pen today. Sometimes innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire, like when Alex kicked me in the face tonight while I was reading books to him in bed.

Toilets get stopped up. The driveway turns into an obstacle course of scooters, bikes, baseball bats, skateboards, sidewalk chalk, and basketball hoops every summer evening. String cheese gets abandoned in far-flung corners of the house to be discovered months later as some new form of matter that defies physical description. The remnants of goldfish crackers, gum, potato chips, graham crackers, Tootsie Pops, fruit snacks, and pretzels coating the seats and floors of a mini-van could feed a third-world nation.

But one of the most troubling things about having kids who eventually grow up and talk, is that they, well, talk. About you. About your husband. About everything. Your business is never again your own. And it’s not like we have great family secrets or anything. We’re not growing hydroponic marijuana under heat lamps in the basement. No swingers parties on the weekends. But some things you just don’t necessarily want broadcast to your kid’s entire circle of friends or baseball team.

Classic example. David brought home a bunch of his school stuff at the end of his second grade year, including a notebook full of “word of the day” exercises. There were pages with a definition of the word, then a question about the word that the students answered and drew pictures about in their notebooks. Most of David’s responses were pretty clever, though he did get mildly scolded by his teacher on one where he said he would “abolish” school.

One of the words was “putrid.” The question was something about whether you ever encountered something that was putrid or to that effect.  When I read what David had written, I nearly fell off my chair in a fit of laughter and shame.

“My house smelled putrid when my dad ate too much tuna and farted.”  It was accompanied by a picture of David and Barry, with a word bubble above David saying, “Eww, gross!”  A cloud emanated from near Barry’s hind area. I showed it to Barry and his response was, “He DIDN’T!!!!!”  Oh, he did.  I’m sure Mrs. Benson had her laugh for the day.

Your secrets are not safe.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

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