the creeping kid

Last week I wrote about parenthood, despite having only six months’ experience. This is one of my more tiresome qualities: being so sure of myself that I only need cursory exposure to a topic in order to start expounding on it.

I’m a hoot at parties!

A good dose of humility never hurts, so whenever I’m feeling a little too sure of things, a little too obnoxiously wise–you know the feeling: you read the news and exclaim, “If only everybody acted the common sense way like me, there would be no problems in the world!”–

Ahem. Whenever this happens, I remind myself of the following story.


The irrational but unrelenting sense that I’m a psychological mastermind goes back to the days of my not-so-distant youth. I can’t give a precise date for this anecdote, but based on where we were living I was definitely below the age of 9. For the sake of my dignity, let’s hope it was several years below.

I was already a keen study of human nature by this time. One of my theories, based on hours of observational field research, was that adults loved television. Not only did they love television, they were so mesmerized by TV programming that when enraptured by a show they were incapable of noticing anything that happened in their peripheral vision. That’s right. Adults facing a television set were unable to look away, they were so engaged.

One evening I decided to put my genius theory to the test, and it was a pretty ballsy move. This was our home at the time, aka the playing field:

el cajon house

This is perfectly to scale. My memory of my childhood home, like all of my memories, is flawless.

At the hallway opening I awaited my chance. Then, when the time was right, I crept into action. Oh so quietly, oh so agonizingly slowly, I crawled on hands and knees around the perimeter of the living room, pausing now and then to assess my foolish, distracted parents. Hah! Just as I expected, they were focused on their vapid program and nothing else. I darted into the kitchen, ninja-quick, and there I snuck something to drink.

Victory never tasted so sweet.

After waiting patiently just around the corner, peeking periodically to check my victims’ sight lines, I embarked on the return journey. My little heart was pitter-pattering with the possibility of exposure, but it went as seamlessly as you could imagine, and soon I was back in my bedroom. It had been a complete success!

I gloated internally for a long time about how savvy I was. For I, the child, had defeated them, the parents, with my superior wit and understanding of human nature. My stealth moves were unparalleled. My timing was that of a karate master. Could anything stop me? Only my inborn sense of restraint. Because I can’t remember the train of thought that kept me contained, but I don’t believe I ever attempted the kitchen stealth mission again.

It was enough to know that I could.

Yeahhh, so a good 15+ years later this lost incident sprang to mind and stopped me in my tracks. Because goddammit, there is no way my parents did not see my ass creeping across the living room and through the kitchen door, no matter HOW low to the ground I was, or HOW compelling that night’s episode of Seinfeld. Not only did they know I was there, they must have actively kept their faces averted to maintain my illusion! There I was, butt in the air, darting in and out of the kitchen on hands and knees, and my parents just kept on watching TV like nothing unusual was going on. I was thoroughly upstaged, and I didn’t even realize it.

Touché, Mom and Dad, touché. I look forward to the day when I can bolster my own idiot child’s sense of self-worth.


ETA: I talked to my mom this weekend. She totally knew. -_____-