Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I was sleeping soundly one Sunday morning when Jeff came into my room and tried to wake me.
"Teri, is there any reason there would be a ladder up to the boys' window? Is the window broken?"
I turned over and pulled the blankets over my head as I said, "One of the boys must have climbed down in the middle of the night. I don't want to deal with it now." With that I tried to go back to sleep, but my mom alert wouldn't allow me to do so.
I kept going over the facts in my head.
- 24 foot ladder out of the second story window
- four boys sharing a room
- narrowed down to two suspects
- now I'm down to one
- 15 year old Taylor must have had a midnight excursion
As my kids grew up there was one word that put the fear of God into them, "office." When they heard that lone word they knew they were toast. They were going to be in the office with one, or both, parents until they broke and it wasn't going to be pretty. They always thought since they grew up with so many kids there might be a slight chance that we could never be 100% sure which child actually did the deed, and sometimes they were right. But not that day. Taylor's fate was sealed. I just had to get the confession.
Taylor was a hard one. He was tough to break, but it could be done, after all I was the master at getting to most of the truths behind the lies of teenagers. Lies like, "oh, my hair smells like smoke because the people I was with were smoking."
"Oh yeah, give me your hand." I'd smell their fingers. If they smelled like smoke or smelled freshly cleaned they were B.U.S.T.E.D.
I pulled on my jeans and threw on a t shirt as I thought through my line of questions. I walked to the boys' room and said, "Taylor, office, NOW." I turned and walked through what Taylor would think was the hallway to hell.
When we got to the office I sat in the comfy swivel chair and Taylor sat in a hard wooden chair. All I needed was a bright light to shine in his eyes, a cigarette and a bag of rice for the, "are you lying or not," rice test.
Here's a little trick. Think the kid is lying? Tell them the answer is in the rice. Give them a spoon or two full of dry rice, but don't tell them what you're looking for. Just say it's an old lie detector test, one used for decades by detectives before lie detector machines were invented. If they're lying, or hiding something, their mouth will be so dry from nerves the rice will be dry too when they spit it into a bowl. Works every time.
But back to Taylor's tale of terror. I always start with having the kid in question raise their hand to swear to tell the truth. You see, the closer the fingers are together, the more likely they're trying to hide something. If their fingers are tight together AND bent over...you've got 'em. Taylor raised his hand. His fingers were tight together and barely off of his palm. The kid was going to be nailed.
We were in the room for hours. He had questions coming at him from all directions. I wasn't really sure where I would go with the questions until I heard a few lies first. The lies always lead to knowing what to ask next. I had the boy so confused he didn't know if he was coming or going.
He refused to break, he stuck to his story. The screen had broken on the window and they were trying to fix it before Jeff got home. The funny thing was that I was in the backyard that evening and there was no ladder up to the window. And why were they messing with the screen in the first place?
I continued to pelt him with questions and with each question I watched his body language. I watched as he swallowed, I watched as he squirmed. With each swallow I knew I was closer to the truth. With each squirm I knew he was closer to breaking.
But damn, after about two hours I was tired but there was no way in hell I was giving up. That's another little trick. As a parent you can't back down when you know there's a rat in the woodpile. It only makes it more difficult to get to the truth the next time.
I called for someone to bring me something to drink. Taylor got nothing, yes I'm the bad cop when it comes to the kids. Their dad likes to give them the benefit of the doubt. I, on the other hand, know the ropes. I know the lies, I know because I lived that sneaky teenage life.
During hour three I knew we were getting closer, did I mention no bathroom breaks for the offending child? The pressure was building in more ways than one. I was asking questions, pointing out inconsistencies and getting closer to the truth. Kid's mouth was getting dry, and I knew that nerves were making him want to pee. Everything was going my way, but damn it was taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R!
This kid was good. He was wearing me down, but I refused to retreat and he knew it. Just when I was about to give him a five minute break, after about 3 and 1/2 hours, he all of the sudden blurted out, "I did it! Lindsey picked me up at midnight and we went to a party on the hill. She made me walk the three miles home. I didn't get home until 4:30."
He was sobbing at that point. He explained there was drinking, partying and general teenage cahooting going on. Then I got the little nugget that the mom of the house was there and told the kids to "do what ever, just not wake her."
Great, just great. I was going to have the whole conversation again with a less than responsible parent, and possibly a cop or two.
Finally the questioning was over, the truth was out. I called all the parents involved and all the kids were busted. I let another irate parent question the irresponsible mom.
All this happened because a kid was too lazy to climb into the window, walk out of the back door, put the ladder away and go back into the house and get into bed.
Moral of the story.....finish what you start.