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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Kids Say the Darnedest Things
By Cheri Hardaway


Uncle Brad was my mom’s big brother. He and Aunt Rita had four kids, but I was an only child. They visited often. The grown-ups played cards, while I played with Joni and Kelly, my two cousins closest to my age. We were each a year apart, with me being between Joni and Kelly.

On one memorable visit, Joni and I were in the bathroom downstairs. We could hear our parents at the kitchen table. We stifled giggles as we fixed our hair and made ourselves look grown-up. Boy, were they going to be surprised!

“Put this under your shirt.” Joni whispered. She handed me a wad of toilet paper, which I obediently stuffed under my tee-shirt, so it would look like I had breasts. She did the same. We primped a little more and then made our grand entrance.

Our parents were completely quiet when we emerged from the stuffy bathroom. We had their full attention as we strutted in a way that would have made any runway model proud. We must have looked fabulous, because all four adults remained speechless as we paraded by, one hand on our swaying seven and eight-year-old hips, the other waving the pretend cigarettes that added years to our ages. We were satisfied; they were duly impressed by our “new look.”

We were halfway up the stairs when I heard a funny noise.

“Did you hear that?” I asked Joni. “It sounded like your mom was choking on something.”

“No,” Joni answered. “But when I looked back, my dad’s face was all red, and his shoulders were shaking. Your mom smacked him on the arm and told him to stop.”

Uncle Brad must have told a funny joke, because by the time we got to my room upstairs, all four of them were hooting and hollering. It must’ve been one of “those” jokes, too, because Mom whacked him.

Kelly had been waiting for us in my room, and we quickly became engrossed in our game of “Grown-Ups.” She talked in a way deep voice, pretending to be the dad. I was the mom, and Joni was the daughter. She was supposed to be a teenager, like her big sister, my cousin Tricia. In our game, “Tricia” came home late, and her daddy – really Kelly – was yelling at her something terrible. Kelly really did sound like Uncle Brad, because she was using curse words that I knew we’d get in trouble for saying, if our parents heard us.

Soon sick of yelling at “Tricia,” we pretended that the phone was ringing.

“Hello?” Kelly answered like a dad. She stayed quiet a minute, like she was listening to someone on the other end.

“Who is it, dear?” I asked, like a mom.

“Shhh…” Kelly hissed, waving her hand at me like she was listening to a real person on the phone.

“Well, I don’t care what they said. I want those darn things delivered on time!” Only Kelly didn’t say “darn.”

I wasn’t looking at Kelly, but dutifully spoke as I’d heard Aunt Rita do many times. “Sweetheart, please watch your language.”

“Shhh!” Kelly hissed urgently, causing me to look her way.

Our house was old, and we got heat upstairs through a pipe in the floor. In the summer, like now, there was just a hole in the floor where the pipe usually went. Kelly was staring into the hole. Her face was very white, and she looked as if she might burst into tears.

I forgot all about playing “Grown-Ups,” as I watched her. “Kelly, what’s wrong?”

“I looked down the hole in your floor while I was pretending to yell on the phone, and Uncle John was looking up at me.”

I paled. “Oh,” I said in a tiny voice. Even though I hadn’t been the one to say the D-word, I knew I was in trouble too. Mom and Dad were clear on that.

It was confusing. If we were pretending to be grown-ups, we couldn’t say those things. But if you really were a grown-up, it must be okay. After all, I’d heard many grown-ups use the D-Word.

We three decided to go downstairs and face the music. When we got down there, looking like properly repentant seven, eight, and nine-year-olds, there were our parents, playing cards quietly.

Not a word was said about our game of “Grown-Ups.” Uncle Brad was extra quiet.

I don’t think we played that game again, for a long, long time.

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This article has been read 959 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shirley McClay 05/29/08
Nicely done! I love when kids unknowingly teach their parents... happens to me all the time.

Wondering about one thing "It must’ve been one of “those” jokes, too, because Mom whacked him."... if they were in their room how would they know this?.. maybe I missed or misread something there.

Very creative and well-written!
Lynda Schultz 05/29/08
And "ouch" moment that should be shared with all grownups. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/29/08
I could just see those little girls pretending to be "grown-up" and their play-acting that shamed Uncle Brad. Good job.
Joanne Sher 05/31/08
A compelling story that really packed a punch. Well done.
Karen Wilber06/01/08
Good lesson...for everybody. I felt like I was there--well done.
Sharlyn Guthrie06/01/08
Ooooh! Very realistic and convicting. I could definitely relate to the play acting. My cousins and I played out family situations quite often!
Marilee Alvey06/01/08
This was a charming story. Who couldn't relate...and most of us to both sides! I'm betting that Uncle John had let a few of those D-bombs go since he threw no stones! Loved it.
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/01/08
Hehe, touche'! Funny story with a good point. I thought the "It must’ve been one of “those” jokes, too" line was funny.
LauraLee Shaw06/01/08
Thanks for opening this box full of memories. It was very entertaining and great for the topic. I cracked up on the use of toilet paper for "stuffing." LOL. Well done!
Peter Stone06/02/08
A lot of memorable moments there, for both the kids and their parents.
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
I could just picture every pirceless moment!

I'd recommend that you lead with the stuff in your second paragraph. The intro of family relationships isn't the strongest hook, and doesn't really move the story along. And maybe a more original title? Because this charming story really deserves to be read--I loved it!
Debbie Wistrom06/02/08
I was very glad the girls didn't get in trouble, it sounds like everyone learned a lesson that night.

Your dialog-the acting-was perfect.

This was fun to read. I'm smiling-thanks.
Sara Harricharan 06/02/08
This struck me as being sort of sad, lol. Good job with the kids characterization, it was definitely real and I could relate to the game of 'grown-ups'. Nice job!
Glynis Becker06/02/08
Great dialogue. Really enjoyable.
Joshua Janoski06/03/08
A very good lesson for parents reminding them to set the proper example for their kids. Thank you for sharing this story. It was a fun read.
Beth LaBuff 06/03/08
Your opening story is so cute...I could see it all from your writing. Your lesson in the second part of your entry is very good. Ya gotta love these childhood memories! Great work.
Loren T. Lowery06/04/08
This is just so, so real. I could see it all unfolding as if I were there. You captured the voice and the young emotions perfectly; and as an aside, I liked the ending in that it shows how we can learn certain lessons in very unsuspecting ways.
Betty Castleberry06/04/08
Oops. I guess the grown ups were taught a lesson. This is charming and an entertaining read.
Dee Yoder 06/04/08
Oh, wow! This story is a hoot and carries a great message, too. Love the way you describe the cousins playing "grown-ups". It sure brought back memories of my cousin visits, too.
Lyn Churchyard06/04/08
I'm sure the parents didn't expect their words to come back and bite them LOL. Loved the girls dressing up - it must be a universal thing for little girls to stuff toilet paper or tissues up shirts. Great story, loved every line :-)
Aaron Morrow06/05/08
Great job Cheri,

The parents reaction to the fashion show was absolutely classic. The title was great and the ending was perfect!

Great message for some of us parents that sometimes let things "slip" around our beloved little sponges :).

Most excellent!