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The "What I Got Away with and You Never Knew About" Story

My adult daughter recently shared with me her “guess what I got away with that you never knew about” story, at her grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary party no less. In her defense, I have to say, there is something that feels so good about spilling the beans when there is no consequence. I am not sure what I would even do to punish my fiscally responsible, home-owning, business professional, 25-year-old daughter.

Apparently, after prom, she and her friends drove to a party somewhere in Iowa, spent the night there and she came home the next day - and I never suspected one. darn. thing. My mom radar did not even have the slightest bleep.

How did she do it? She told me she was spending the night at her friend’s house after prom. I checked my Find Your iPhone app and sure enough, the little blue dot was exactly where it was supposed to be. I texted to ask my daughter how her night went, she promptly replied and we had a nice little conversation. The dot didn’t move all night. In the morning, she texted when she would be coming home and she arrived right on time.

My mistake? Not directly speaking to her. She had dropped off her phone at her friend’s house and her friend was responding exactly as my daughter would. She literally watched her phone all night and into the next morning. Did she study my daughter's speech patterns to avert detection? It is totally possible. Maybe she had even prepared responses. All I have to say is - well played. I was outwitted.

Technology really makes kids today ramp up their game. I am not sure how in the world my preteens will be able to bypass Life360 alerts, Ring doorbell camera notifications, and the all-knowing Alexa. I wish them luck in their quest.

When I think back to the 1990’s, I realize how truly clueless I was when I was caught in my stupidity with none other than a rotary phone. One of my first jobs was working at a shoe store in the mall. One day, I could not take one more minute of the monotony (yes, what a tragic existence I led sorting shoes) and I walked out. I walked out right in the middle of my shift without telling my manager I was leaving. I simply could not imagine another minute spent looking at shoe boxes.

At the time, my friend worked in the J.C. Penny in the mall. I walked over and caught her on her break in the breakroom eating a Dairy Queen Blizzard. In a super bored tone she said, “What are you doing, aren’t you working?” My reply, “No. I left. I couldn’t take it anymore.” She just stared at me with big eyes and said, “What are you going to do? What are you going to tell your parents? He is probably going to call your house!”

Shoot. I hadn’t really thought that through. I really quick said goodbye to my friend and hightailed it home. My quick-thinking problem-solving skills told me the best thing to do would be to leave the phone off the hook. Indefinitely. We had a rotary phone in our basement with a very long stretched out spiral cord. I took the receiver off the hook and put it under a pillow on the floor so no one would hear the dial tone. Then I waited, while leisurely laying on my bed, reading Sassy magazine, and eating all the snacks in our house.

My plan worked well until my mom yelled, “Did someone take the phone off the hook? Marsha has been trying to call me all day! She just walked over here to let me know that she has been getting a busy signal.”

I played dumb as my mom searched for the cordless phone, the kitchen phone, and then eventually located the old basement phone and slammed the receiver back on with a huff, while mumbling about us kids under her breath.

Sure enough, my boss did call again the next day and talked to my parents. And yeah, I had no excuse. Because it was such a dumb thing to do, I spent the next fifteen years crossing to the other side of the mall in front of that store to avoid that manager. How crazy is it that because of a ridiculous decision made as a teenager, that I still walked with my head down on the other side of the mall sidewalk when pushing a toddler in a stroller to visit Santa?

That was a long-lasting consequence that I was dealt. My daughter’s irresponsible act had zero consequences. What is the moral of this story? There may not be one, other than my daughter was smarter than me. I was no Ferris Buehler, that’s for sure.

I think it all comes down to planning. My daughter really planned this out and executed it well. My great shoe escape had no logical thoughts involved and was led by emotion. If I can wish my younger children anything - it is logical planning. They may not succeed in getting away with whatever they are plotting, but I wish them the skills to have a fighting chance. As technology advances, the cards continue to stack against them, but if I can lose to a rotary phone - they sure as heck have a chance.

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