Flashback Friday: Law & Order for moms

Posted on March 11th, 2011

When I became a stay at home mom, I had no idea how much work it would entail. I had no idea what new skills I would develop (other than diaper changing and boo-boo kissing). But I was watching CSI the other day and I realized—those people have mommy skills.

Oh, okay. I don’t find too many dead bodies at my house. And I’m not having DNA analyzed to solve mysteries. I’m not even gathering DNA. I wouldn’t even know DNA if it smacked me across the forehead, frankly. But bear with me on this. Moms are detectives and we can rival the best CSI team in solving crimes.

We find crime scenes all the time. Take that ketchup stain on my family room couch. You don’t think it got there all by itself, do you? No, it’s a mystery. It’s the Case of the Ketchupy Couch. And I will show you how I cracked this case and sent the perpetrator to the chair—the time-out chair, that is.

It happened on an unusually warm winter day when Junior was maybe 7 years old or so. I opened the shades and noticed that the couch cushions were not in their usual jumble. I straightened them and, to my horror, discovered a crime scene unlike any I had ever seen before. Right there, under a throw pillow was a large, red stain. I touched it with my finger. Ketchup. Undoubtedly. Now, when coming upon a crime such as this, most moms will immediately reach for the stain remover. DON’T DO THIS. You are tampering with evidence. Instead, keep the ketchup-filled area clear of all other debris, like throw pillows and the dog.

Next, I canvassed the area for witnesses.

The first witness is usually the culprit. For some reason, small children do not venture far from their ketchup crimes. When questioning the witness/suspect keep in mind that this suspect will lie like a rug to get out of trouble. During the interrogation, surreptitiously search the suspect’s mouth, hands and clothing for ketchup stains. You’ve got the suspect red-handed (so to speak) if you can find any ketchup anywhere on his body. In this case, the witness had a large red stain on his Tony Hawk t-shirt. So I suspected him from the very start.

Now, when I start the questioning, I like to be really, really nice. The following is the entire interrogation for this case:

Me: Junior, sweetie, what are you doing?”

Junior: (Wiping mouth with back of hand.) “Nuffing.”

Me: “Do you know how the ketchup got on the couch?”

Junior: “What couch?”

Me: “This one with the big ketchup stain on it.”

Junior: “Oh. No.” (Pause.) “What’s ketchup? “

Me: “Are you sure? Remember what happens if you lie.”

Junior: (Large smile begins to form.) “I never lie!”

Me: “Okay, maybe it just got there by itself.”

Junior: “Or the dog did it.”

To the untrained mommy eye, this conversation looks like it got me nowhere. But look again. It’s the smile. It gets kids every time. I used to wonder how my parents knew I was lying. Now that I am a mom, I understand. It’s the stupid smile you get when you tell even the smallest lies. Of course, the emphatic “I never lie!” tells you something too. It proclaims in big, bold letters that the suspect is guilty as heck and lies every chance he gets.

The suspect also attempted to deflect suspicion away from him and onto someone else. Now, in our house, this is difficult. We only have one child. And the dog does not have opposable thumbs, so that pretty much lets her off the hook for most crimes. If you have more than one child, you have to develop a keep sense of when the suspect is lying and when the suspect is only afraid that if she tells the truth her big sister will kidnap her Water Princess Barbie and never give it back.

But in this case, I had one suspect, one dog licking the evidence and I quickly cracked the case before the dog got sick. Junior got sent to the big house—the dining room where the time-out chair lives. The dog got sent outside. And I got to clean the couch until all that remains is a faint pink spot.

Case closed.

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