One of these days I might write a book on parenting, although on the occasions I sometimes discuss them, my descriptions of appropriate techniques are often met with open mouthed gapes of silence.
Well, I guess you have to have seven to appreciate the logic. And a firm understanding of the appropriate statute of limitations.
But if I were to write the book, lesson number 27 would have applied nicely to one of my own personal experiences.
Years ago, when I first started in private practice as a solo practitioner, I represented people charged with various crimes, big and small, including DWI. On one occasion my client, a liquor store owner, was having difficulty paying the fee. So after a fair opportunity and no positive results, I told him I would like to close out the account by selecting $500 of his inventory at his cost.
I did, and I transported the thirty bottles to my unfinished basement. In those days, I didn’t drink; chocolate ice cream being my addiction of choice. (I even ate it for breakfast – and yeah, I miss those days.) So the bottles stayed there pretty much untouched for a few months.
Until one Saturday when I went down and discovered every bottle open and empty. The only clue was a plastic beach bucket in which three army men floated in booze that lipped the top. The rest was gone down the drain.
My first thought was the 16 year old babysitter but that was clearly irrational – I didn’t think my babysitter liked army men. So the next most likely suspects were my four sons, aged 3 – 10.
Naturally I was furious – could actually feel the veins in my neck pulsing. And my four boys could probably see them. My immediate ‘inquiries’ were met with silence.
So I decided the 3 year old would be the best option to break the stonewalling. He admitted he was involved, but he couldn’t have opened the bottles so the question was the identity of his accomplice(s).
When I demanded the names, he casually looked up and down the line of his three siblings before selecting my 6 year old. As soon as the name was spoken, my 6 year old dropped to the ground, convulsing as if he had been tazed while simultaneously protesting his innocence and denouncing his accuser.
And it was convincing, even with the healthy skepticism I had acquired watching similar false displays of innocence, complete with gyrating floor exercises.
So in keeping with one of my other infamous parenting strategies – punish the innocent along with the guilty – I told them they would all go to their rooms until I learned the truth.
With that, my 3 year old and my 10 year old joined their 6 year old brother wailing and/or otherwise attempting, by outsized manifestations of shock, to emphasize the extreme injustice and whatever else that might commute the sentence.
But my four year old turned without a word and headed up the stairs.
Lesson 27: If they don’t fight it, they did it.
Lesson 27(a): Lesson 27 does not work with girls.