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Can Big Guy keep a secret? We’ll see

Submitted by on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 No Comment

Little Guy rushed to me last weekend, tears streaming and voice frantic. Only one thing can cause that kind of trauma with him.

“”Mommy, want a Thomas toy!”" he pleaded.

“”Which Thomas toy, babes? You have a lot.”"

“”The one in Daddy’s car!”"Oh-oh. Little Guy had discovered his birthday present.

“”There’s no Thomas toy in Daddy’s car. Why would Daddy have Thomas?”"

Big Guy to the rescue. “”Yes there is, Mom. I saw it. It’s a Thomas toy, really!”"

His brother having affirmed his judgment, Little Guy rushed for the door toward the treasure of which he was being deprived. I grabbed Big Guy, knelt and whispered in his ear. “”It’s his birthday present. You need to keep it secret.”"

Big Guy’s eyes lit up. This was his chance at glory. Big people were trusting him with a secret — as if I had any choice at that point. Would he be able to keep it for two weeks?

We’ve played at secrets for years. When he was 2, I’d say goodbye at school by whispering “”I love you right up to the moon and back.”" It’s the closing line from “”Guess How Much I Love You,”" our favorite story at the time. That lasted about a year, and there are days when I pray for a revival. Their current good-bye involves sprinting across the room and throwing themselves at me for a hug. They’ve knocked me on my rear a few times, and I’ve quit wearing short skirts.

Recently, Big Guy’s had a secret renaissance. Every night for about a month, he’s wanted me to “”tell him a secret.”" It usually was something goofy, such as “”you’re wearing Batman underwear,”" or inconsequential, such as “”I’m going to put pizza in your lunch tomorrow.”" Lately, that hasn’t been enough. “”I want a real secret.”"

And now he’d happened upon one. What would he do with it?

His smiled knowingly. “”I can’t tell him, right? Birthday presents are supposed to be secret.”"

I nodded, and he chased his brother. “”Hey, I was wrong,”" he told Little Guy. “”That wasn’t a Thomas toy. But Mommy has Otter Pops.”" I was torn between admiring the improvisation and being scared about the alibis he’ll be able to ad lib in 10 years.

He let the subject drop for about a week. Today, he wanted to talk about it. Which was good, because so did I.

I hate secrets. It’s a chicken-or-the-egg thing with me: Did I become a journalist because I abhor hush-hush, or do I abhor hush-hush because I’m a journalist. Mostly, I hate secrets because too often they inflict pain.

“”So we’re keeping the birthday present a secret,”" Big Guy said.

“”Yes, because that’s a good secret,”" I replied.

“”Christmas presents are good secrets, too?”"

“”Yes, but there are bad secrets we don’t want to keep.”"

“”Like what?”"

I struggled. “”Like not telling me something I need to know. Like if you got an owie doing something you weren’t supposed to and didn’t tell because you were afraid you’d get in trouble. But I would need to know so I could clean the owie. Does that make sense?”"

He nodded, paused and then said, “”No.”"

“”It’s hard to understand. Just remember: If a secret is something that would make someone happy, it’s a good secret.”"

I let it go at that. Good versus bad secrets is a bit esoteric for a 4-year-old, even one who thinks he’s 40. I’d at least introduced the concept, and that was enough for one day.

About an hour later, he came up and whispered in my ear. “”Mommy, the Thomas present is going to make brother happy. So that’s a good secret, right?”"


“”Then I won’t tell him.”"

I hope it stays that way for another week.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Genevieve said:

    I hope he held out!

  • Debra (author) said:

    “He did great! Not only did he keep secret the present he’d busted his dad on, but he kept quiet about his own gift for Little Guy, too.

    He was karmacally rewarded, too. Of all Little Guy’s presents, his absolutely favorite, the one he refused to let go of for days: The one from Big Guy!

    Big Guy was so proud of himself he was about to bust. And so was I, seeing a kid that young take genuine pleasure in making someone else happy. What a guy!”