On any number of occasions, mothers are faced with asking their kids a certain type of unanswerable question such as; who ate the last cookie and put the empty package back in the cabinet? Or who took the quarter off the counter? Or who wrote the dirty words on the wallpaper in the kitchen?
Getting a straight answer can prove to be more complicated and frustrating than trying to establish peace in the Mid-East. In fact, when my kids were young, I’d’ve tackled global peacekeeping any day over “Who took the gum out of my purse.”
When I had to ask the “who did” question, my kids would react in one of two ways. Either they’d be stricken with some kind of mental dysfunction that rendered them speechless, or they’d cast about for someone they might possibly get away with blaming.
I think this is a talent that kids are born with that may hearken back to some instinct for survival and some are much better at it than others.
While I had a certain maternal pride in the abilities of my kids to find a ‘scapegoat,’ they had a long way to go to match the aplomb of a friend’s three year-old. One day he’d been out playing with his older brother, and when he came back in my friend noticed a particular odor as he passed by.
As delicately as possible she asked, “Did you have an accident in your pants?”
“No. John did it.”
Now that’s quick thinking at its best.
In fact, this kid had such a reputation no one believed him. Not even when he insisted for an entire day that he had not eaten his older sister’s candybar. “It was Mommy. I swear.”
“Sure,” the sister said. “Like Mom would really do that.”
Can you imagine how embarrassing it is to admit to your six year-old that you needed a sudden chocolate fix and hers was the only candy in the house?
Luckily, my daughter never asked what happened to the last piece of candy from her first-grade Valentine’s party.