My child told me a story once. Not a made up, fictitious story full of elaborate characters and make believe. But I had asked him point blank about something that had happened and he looked at me and told me the untruth.
Being a parent, I have that built in bovine waste material detector that my mother had and knew he was not telling me the truth but let the omission of truth slide. I just told him I was not too sure I believed his version of facts and let it go at that. A few weeks later, he told my sister what really happened.
But first, he did like all children do and swore her to the utmost of secrecy.
“You promise you won’t tell Mama. I mean under no circumstances, you won’t tell her.”
She agreed to the promise.
So Cole told her the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him God.
And my baby sister never uttered a word to me.
Cole finally confessed one day to his mama, who had suspected the truth but had not pressed the matter, understanding his young logic behind his story.
“Cole, I am glad you finally told me the truth. However, I knew this all along.”
His little chin quivered and he nodded.
“Did Aunt Shawn tell you?”
“No, she didn’t. I just knew. Wait – did Aunt Shawn know?”
He nodded. “I told her and I swore her to secrecy. She said she wouldn’t tell – so she didn’t?”
“No, she didn’t say a word about it.”
“I didn’t think she would,” Cole said, a sincere smile growing on his lips. “I knew my aunt wouldn’t rat me out. She’s got my back.”
“Cole finally told me what happened,” I told my sister a few weeks later when we were on the phone. “I can’t believe you didn’t say anything to me about it.”
“Nope,” my sister said. “I told him I wouldn’t and I didn’t. Besides, it was not anything that was urgent or life-threatening. Had it been something like that, I would have told him we had to tell you. But every child needs that adult outside of mom and dad they know they can trust.”
She was absolutely right.
I had that with my Uncle Bobby, who had been the one that helped me on many late night science projects, the one who smuggled the strays I found off to the vet and the one whenever I did something really, really stupid I could get to be my buffer with Mama.
We had plotted for pigs we never got, collected rocks together and he had always been my defender from Granny.
When I had forgotten to tell Mama I needed something for school, I mentioned it to Uncle Bobby quietly and quickly as he had his breakfast. Mama would probably not be happy, I knew, because she would think I had waited until the last minute to tell her something – again.
“I’ll take care of it, baby,” he had said, setting his coffee cup down and finding his hat. Later that morning, what I needed had been dropped off at school by my uncle. Mama never knew.
He had been the one I knew no matter what, was one I could trust and as Cole said of his aunt, had my back. He would move the mountains for me if needed, even if it was one of those moments I needed to be a little more independent and find my own way. Uncle Bobby wouldn’t let me go it alone.
“You aren’t mad at me?” Cole asked me later.
I told him I wasn’t.
“You aren’t mad at Aunt Shawn, are you?”
“Absolutely not. I am not mad at anyone,” I told him. “I knew you hadn’t told me the truth, but I knew why you did it. But you did tell Aunt Shawn and she knew how to handle things.”
More than DS games, or iPods or whatever technological contraption children want, more than anything they need a grown-up they trust, that they can go to about things they may not feel comfortable going to their parents about.
And I was glad Cole had his aunt to be that person.