The report came back less than stellar. As I understand it, according to the frazzled baby sitter, my 10-year-old son ran up and down our neighborhood sidewalks, at complete loss of his faculties, screaming at the top of his lungs in no particular language, for no particular reason.
Our unfortunate 18-year-old baby sitter agreed, for just dumb luck of not having a ready excuse as to why he could not perform the task to my specifications (my tried and true rule of thumb is to call sitters at 11 a.m. on a Saturday -- they'll commit to almost anything at that ungodly hour of the morning), to escort my 10-year-old son and seven other children of various ages to our local movie theater, a scant three blocks from our house.
By all accounts, even from the seven other kids, they all were forced against their will to participate in what could only be described as a Walk of Shame spearheaded by a pre-adolescent lunatic.
Naturally, I provided my son with a much-needed caustic scolding and sat him in isolation for an undisclosed period of time after his outbreak, during which he was to consider the ramifications of his untoward behavior. Although I wished I could, for reasons beyond my genetic control I cannot call his behavior unusual and out of character.
Later, while tucking him in for the night, I quietly listed the chores compiled for his continued punishment the following morning. He sighed, and whispered, "I know," completely resigned to a day at hard labor.
"What made you act like that?" I asked, choosing to ignore the fact that somehow he could probably trace it all back to me if he gave it a little thought.
He pleaded not guilty.
"I couldn't help it, Mama. It was the root beer float you gave me before we went to the movies. Too much sugar."
I'll be darned; he did manage to trace it back to me, and the route wasn't as convoluted as I had hoped, through throngs of ancestors and such, thus watering down my culpability.
The next afternoon, all transgressions forgiven, and all root beer floats on hold, he and his daddy went out to play six holes of golf, his daddy instructing him on the way out the door about how hard the game of golf is and how it takes years to hone the requisite skills and how the beauty of the game is that a guy can't just pick up a bag of clubs and go out and be good on the first day and for the kid to not get frustrated out on the fairways and start up with noises in no particular language.
"How'd it go?" I pensively asked upon their return, afraid my husband's wits had unraveled in the same manner as the baby sitter's.
"I don't know how, but he almost beat me," the baffled man replied. "Actually, he did beat me on three out of six holes."
That's when the 10-year-old offered, "I couldn't help it," echoing his same words from just the night before. I waited with baited breath to learn how he traced his uncanny natural talent back to us and our DNA and our parenting. But he said instead, "I found a penny heads up today."
Simple as that, I realized that the boy has a variety of methods for roping unwilling participants into carefully choreographed Walks of Shame.
Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson. Lucy invites readers to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit her Web site, www.IfMama.com.