Saturday, November 10

watch the birdie because he's surely watching you

Parents have a strange way of trying to keep their children in line.

I'm sure most, if not all, of you can remember your parents telling you they had eyes in the back of their heads. Those of you who are parents now - have you pulled that one on your kid(s) yet? I know I have. He, of course, wanted to see those eyes. "You can't see them. You don't have any kids yet." I told him. Drove him crazy for about a week. "Can you see me now?" he'd ask when I wasn't looking. Fun stuff.

But what about the birdie? Have you ever heard, or used, that one?

I honestly don't remember what age I was - I want to say somewhere around 7 or 8 - when my mother first started using it. We lived in a very tight neighborhood - the same neighborhood my parents still live in after all these years. Everyone knew everyone, watched everything that was going on, and the parents felt safe to let us be out by ourselves even after the streetlights came on because of it. But when someone did something they weren't supposed to, what happened then? Well, the little birdie would fly home to the parents and tell them what you'd been doing wrong. Damn little birdie!

For years my mother would somehow know I was doing something I wasn't supposed to do, or being somewhere I wasn't supposed to be. When cornered and trying to think of an escape plan as I stared at my mother in disbelief that she could possibly know what I'd been up to I would acquiesce and fess up.

"How did you know?" I'd ask.

"A little birdie told me!" was always the same reply.

I would stand there staring at her in disbelief wondering where in the hell this little birdie was. And - more importantly - why did it feel compelled to follow me around and report back to my mother on my activities? I swear when I even thought about doing something wrong I'd glance over my shoulder and look for that damned little birdie. And I wonder why I have issues now!?

As I got older I didn't really believe the little birdie was watching anymore, yet I wasn't totally convinced. Until we took a trip to Hawaii. I took a friend along, because what sort of fun can you have in Hawaii - when you're 16 - with your parents in tow? My friend and I shared a room that was right next door to my parent's room. The second (or maybe third) night there we devised a plan to sneak out of the hotel and meet up with some "boys" we'd met on the beach earlier in the day. After pretending to go to sleep and then waiting long enough to make sure my parents weren't paying any attention to what we were doing, we did the quick beautification ritual and bolted out the door.

Sadly enough the night was a total snore - until we arrived back at the hotel, that is.

The hotel we were staying at was one of those open air hotels. You know the type they have in tropical places. The whole lobby is pretty much wide open, with no windows or doors because the weather is always so nice. Anyway, as we came back to the hotel we went to enter through the back stairwell - the same place we'd left. Notsomuch. It was locked. And the entrance from the street to the lobby was gated shut. This meant we had to head around to the back.

As we approached the back entrance we could see what seemed to be an awful lot of people milling about for such a late hour. Then, as if just seeing a ghost, I stopped dead in my tracks. My parents. There. In the lobby. I was sure I was a goner. Without another way to sneak past them, we walked right in through the entrance without glancing around, heads held high, and walked straight for the elevators. Our walk was steady. We owned the scene.

Yeah, right! Not five steps into the place both my parents decended on us like flies on shit. Their questions made my head spin. They were none too happy about our little escapade and didn't make any pretenses about it.

But how did they find out?

"The little birdie told me" was the only answer I got. And I knew much too well not to question further.

We were "grounded" for the rest of the trip. Our punishment - not leaving my parents eyesight. Ugh!

It wasn't until we got home that I finally found out what happened that night. Were we too noisy? Did they hear us leave? Had they come in to check on us after they thought we were asleep? No, no, and no. The freakin' hotel fire alarm went off and the entire hotel was evacuated. When my parents tried to get us (they didn't have a key to our room) no one answered the door (thank God, since we weren't there!). Hotel security was called to get into our room and when they didn't find us there... Well, you already know the rest of the story now.

2 comments:

jenny said...

that. would. suck.

i never got the little birdie story - but i sure will use it on my kids!

the weirdgirl said...

Busted! (I'm laughing purely in a commiserating way.)

I didn't get the bird excuse from my parents but I definitely heard it around. And as adults we always used it when we were gossiping (and pretending to be delicate about it).