Radar Ears

Did you ever notice that when your kids get to a certain age, say 9 or 10 or so, they get tuned in to when adults are saying something they don’t want them to hear?

Ordinarily you can yell for them to take out the trash ten times and they can’t seem to hear you. But lower your voice to say something private and they have on what I call their “radar ears.” Suddenly their little necks get a bit longer and their head turns slightly in your direction because they don’t want to miss a thing. And you might not even realize it is happening.

The most obvious of my kids to do this was son Bill, known as “Billy” during his growing up years. We had to make that distinction since my husband’s name was Bill. And Billy often took after his dad. A funny, charming soul.

One day Bill came home and wanted to tell me something he didn’t want the kids to hear. I have no idea what it was now, but I was at the kitchen sink doing a few dishes. I turned off the water and Bill proceeded to talk in low tones about whatever it was.

eavesdroppingBut before we could even complete our conversation, Billy yelled out from the stair landing above… “Speak up, I can’t hear you!”

“You’re not supposed to!” exclaimed Bill.

“Why not?” asked Billy.

“None ya,” said Bill firmly. (That was his expression for “none of your business” and that was the end of that!)

Still, Bill and I were amused by Billy’s completely transparent curiosity. But we didn’t really learn from it…

Some time later another incident took place at our house. And here’s the background…

My husband always worked part time at a local pool hall. He loved that place because he enjoyed playing cards and shooting pool and he was a pretty good short order cook on the grill. I wasn’t crazy about it, but it was something he had always done from before I met him, so I couldn’t exactly complain.

Anyway, whenever we had a household project to tackle, he would hire some out-of-work guy from the pool hall to come over and help us at rock-bottom rates. This is what he did when we decided to put in a patio out back. I had designed it and it was a simple matter of pouring concrete slabs and laying bricks between them.

I can’t remember they guy’s name who helped us put in our patio… let’s just call him Pete.

Pete was very agreeable and I would cook up snacks and suppers and keep the beers cold while they worked. Soon it was done and I was very happy with the end result. We thanked Pete, paid him and he was on his way.

So imagine my surprise a few weeks later when Pete made the news. Turns out he had robbed the local donut shop at gunpoint and was sentenced to a term in prison. I was horrified. I had never felt in any danger while Pete was at our house, but still…

That evening we were in the car going somewhere, all the kids in the back occupied with their books and toys. I mentioned Pete’s incident to Bill and told him we needed to be more careful about who he bought home to work around the house. We talked about it quietly and I never dreamed the kids could be listening.

Suddenly, Billy’s face appeared between the two front bucket seats and he looked first at his dad and then at me. “What do you want?” I asked.

“I’m just wondering,” he replied, “how many donuts did he get?”

What a kid. And I’ll never forget how hard Bill and I laughed over that innocent question. Surely that has to be a classic!

At any rate, my sons are now grown up and have daughters of their own. Those daughters are still very little girls – I call them my little ones because they are much younger than my daughter Ellyn’s kids. Ellyn’s brood developed their radar ears long ago. Which means we have to be very careful what we say around them.

Meanwhile, the little girls haven’t figured it out yet, but they will. girls whispering

So they will all grow up and go through the phase of having “radar ears.” I love it. And I hope God grants me another 20 years so I can see these beauties, along with my 3 older grands, get older and start families. Watching them deal with kids of their own – and putting on their radar ears – is part of the fun, right?

Note: I originally had some drawings here of family members but needed to remove them for privacy. You’ll have to enjoy the other artwork on this blog!

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