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Little kids and big secrets

Way way back when I was a little girl, birthday parties were a very special thing.

We didn’t have expensive theme parties with magicians and ponies and trips to the spa back then. But we did wear our best party dresses over puffy crinolines. There were party games like Musical Chairs and Pin The Tail On The Donkey, and afterwards there was ice cream and cake.

I remember just one themed birthday party. It was my sister Debbie’s 7th birthday I think, so I would have been six years old. It was a bowling birthday party.

Bowling! We were poor and bowling was just about the most decadent and exotic thing imaginable.

My mother invited six of Debbie’s friends to this bowling birthday party, and the countdown began. Ten more sleeps, nine more sleeps, eight more sleeps…

A week before the party, we were going to visit my mother’s friend. Her daughter, Margie, was about my age.

My mother explained to us beforehand that Margie was not invited to the bowling birthday party because we couldn’t afford to invite anybody else, and also because Margie’s mom didn’t have a car and my mom wouldn’t have time to go pick her up on the day of the party.

“So don’t tell Margie about the party,” she instructed us firmly.

My mother was absolutely crystal clear about this. She repeated these instructions in the car, and again as we got out of the car. She reminded us in the elevator going up to Margie’s apartment. And she whispered it to us one last time just before she knocked on Margie’s door. Debbie and I nodded solemnly.

The words ran like ticker tape through my mind: “Don’t tell Margie about the bowling birthday party. Don’t tell Margie about the bowling birthday party. Don’t tell Margie about the bowling birthday party. Don’t tell Margie…”

Then my mom knocked and we heard footsteps. The door swung open and there stood Margie and her mom.


Then I stood there, profoundly shocked and horrified at what I had just done.

My mom? She didn’t miss a beat.

“And we’d love it if Margie could come,” she said graciously.

13 comments to Little kids and big secrets

  • What else could she possibly have done?! :)

  • What a brat you were!
    This is a great story zoom.

  • I’m sure you were an adorable brat :-)

  • deb

    I don’t remember this at all. Funny how our memories fail us after a while. I didn’t know that Mom had a car when we were that young.

    But, all said, it sounds like something that you would do back then. Now, it sounds like something I would do.

  • XUP

    Crinolines? How old are you? I never wore crinolines in my life and you’re not that much older than me (har har). Also, if I ever start a conversation with you that begins, “can you keep a secret”, remind me of this story.

  • Nancy

    What else could *you* have done? It’s impossible for little kids to keep things that are in the very front of their brains on the inside. Impossible. Of course, it’s impossible for some adults to.

  • Right before Deb’s wedding I had to buy that crazy bra to keep my pregnant boobs in my dress. Nature Girl was fascinated by that bra and she told me she was going to tell her dad all about it and all its accessories and just HOW HUGE MY BOOBIES WERE NOW.

    I asked her to please not discuss my underwear with her father – my ex.

    This became a HUGE incident where I was accused of whipping the children into a froth of lies and deceit against him; because when she saw her dad she burst into tears trying to keep my boobs to herself and told him.


  • grace

    All this talk of crinolines has made me itch all over. Had to wear them under church dresses every Sunday. And straw hats held on by an elastic band. Which my five brothers would take turns snapping under my chin over and over and over again. Argh.

  • Oma

    I remember the incident … and loved hearing again about Nature Girl’s attempts to keep the bra secret. Techwood has a similar story. When he was about four or five we had done some very minor cross border shopping while visiting Opa and we told Techwood not to mention the dinky toys he bought in the States. As soon as the border guard asked if we had bought anything while there, he burst out with “Just this and this and this and this and …” as he pushed every last dinky toy toward the officer.

    The customs officer smiled … must have had kids too.

    I think I must have raised extremely honest children …

    And I am so glad I was not too shattered to invite Margie!

  • Julia

    This reminds me of why I now try to only say positive things. When I crashed my bike this Fall, I had just been told, “don’t fall off your bike” (it’s a longer story than that). It’s like saying, “don’t think of pink elephants”. You couldn’t help the blurt, with that previous indoctrination!

  • Sadly, I’ve done similar things as an adult, after reminding myself a few times not to bring up a topic in front of certain parties. I don’t credit it to any kind of super honesty or high moral character. Nope, I’m just not always with it enough to remember multiple versions of reality. That’s why I just tell the truth, ’cause I couldn’t keep straight who I told what to and would wind up embarrassing everyone, I’m afraid.

  • Yeah, just too much pressure on a kid’s brain…
    Some kids I used to babysit for (back in the Dark Ages) went Christmas shopping with their mom. She reminded them several times that Daddy’s present was supposed to be a secret. So, how did they greet him when he got home that day? “Daddy! Daddy! We’re not supposed to tell you we got you socks for Christmas!”

  • deb

    Gayle, my kids did that to me once…”Mom, do you want the necklace that we bought for you now, or do you want to wait till your birthday tomorrow when it would be a birthday surprise?”