Got secrets? Don’t have kids!
By Lisa Smartt
Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 9:06 pm
Special thanks to Sharon Bynum for her idea about kids’ sleepovers and the family secrets that sometimes just “slip out.” In order to preserve family secrets, Sharon suggests that you not allow your child to attend a sleepover until they leave for their honeymoon. Though her idea was not the contest winner, her comments made me laugh.
A wise old pastor once said, “If you’ve got secrets, don’t have kids.” I was single at the time and had no idea how much he understood the human condition. In a nutshell, little kids can’t keep their mouths shut. And they have absolutely no discernment about whether certain information is “appropriate” or “inappropriate” for the general public. My education came when I first taught a Sunday School class. The small children would walk through the door and the “revelations” would begin.
“Miss Lisa, I’m sorry I’m late. Mama wasn’t ready in time. Daddy was yellin’ at my mama from the driveway, ‘LORENE, you work too long on your hair! Stop worryin’ about your hair and just get in the van!’ So THEN my mama said, ‘I’ll make you think hair! Who do you think got all these kids ready?’ And then my baby sister started cryin’ and pourin’ orange juice on the floor. My mama couldn’t find her black shoes so my daddy had to clean up the orange juice. But he just used a dry bath towel to wipe up the juice and my mama said, ‘George, you KNOW you have to use a wet soapy rag or that’s gonna be terribly sticky in the mornin’. My daddy was sweatin’ and we was all lookin’ for my mama’s shoes and she was cryin’ and screamin’, ‘I’m losin’ my mind! I’m goin’ stark ravin’ crazy and all of you kids are drivin’ me there.’ Mama finally had to wear brown shoes and the kitchen floor was real sticky but we all got in the van ’cause my daddy said that he’d had enough of all our shenanigans. I don’t know what shenanigans means. But that’s why I’m late and why I didn’t comb my hair, Miss Lisa.” Enough said. OK. More than enough said.
If the above scenario was verbally spouted in less than five minutes, can you imagine the myriad of family secrets that are told at school every day? “Mrs. Smith, I don’t have my homework done ’cause Uncle Jim and his new girlfriend came to dinner last night and we all had to sit at the table and act like we had manners. We never EVER thought Uncle Jim would get a girlfriend ’cause he ain’t cultured and Mama said that he’s rude, rebellious and bad with money.” I know. Every teacher could write a book. Thankfully, most teachers don’t.
Some people spend their whole lives striving to protect their reputations. They work day and night to hide their human frailties. Then kids come along and break down all those walls. They force us to live honestly. They hold us accountable and remind us to watch our words. They free us from pretense and pride. And that’s a good thing. Oh, and if one of my boys tells you that I sometimes let them wear socks out of the dirty clothes hamper, it’s true. Freedom. Sweet freedom.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 2.25.09