The 10 Biggest Secrets I Keep From My Kids

Hey guys, it’s me, Daddy, and I’m only writing this post because you can’t read, you don’t know what a blog is and because you’re still in that developmental sweet spot where you take everything I tell you at face value.


Your old man is full of secrets, things that could destroy my authority if you ever found out.  Here are 10 highly classified facts that I will take to my grave… or at least wait to tell you until you have kids of your own.

1.  TV is a reward for me, not you.

There’s a reason I never promise you TV for being good.  When you’re behaving, I don’t need to turn on the TV.  Overall, you guys are terrific company… but when you’re not, that’s when TV comes to my rescue.  Those 22 blissful minutes of Yo Gabba Gabba are my reward for getting through the crying, whining, fighting meltdown madness that’s become a recurring feature of your toddlerhood.

Here’s the big secret: if you want more TV, you should act out more.  You know how sometimes I’ll pop popcorn and we’ll have a “movie day”, where we get to watch all of Beauty & The Beast or Toy Story from beginning to end?

When that happens, you’ve been BAAAAAAAAAD.

You can never know this, of course, because that would encourage you to misbehave.  So I have to be clever about it.  I always make sure to calm you down first, so you don’t know that I’m only turning on the TV because I’m on the verge of tearing off your Tickle Me Elmo’s head with my teeth.

2.  While you’re napping, I shove my face full of chocolate chip cookies for two hours straight.

You don’t see me eat much, do you?  It’s not because I don’t require sustenance like every other human being, though if it adds to your sense that Daddy is some kind of awesome superhuman, I’m fine with that.  No, the real reason I never eat in front of you is because when you’re watching, I need to model good eating habits.  You think I like eating vegetables and chewing slowly?  Phooey!

I spend every moment in your presence suppressing my natural urge to shovel peanut butter M&Ms through my maw by the fistful.  When you’re asleep, oh boy, do I make up for lost time.  I practically funnel chocolate sauce directly down my throat.  I watch lots of TV, too, and I sit as close to the screen as I want.

3.  I fall for your crocodile tears about 90% of the time.

I don’t know whose side of the family it comes from, but I’d be willing to bet that you two have some Meryl Streep in your blood.  Your performances are unparalleled.  You are gripping emotional powerhouses, both of you, able to summon cascades of tears at will.  I feel like I should be tossing bouquets of flowers at your feet, or at least teaching you to act out Uncle Vanya so your talents can be put to good use.

Even when I’m sure you’re faking, I get sucked into the performance.  I want to give you that second cookie you’re demanding only because I don’t have an Oscar to hand over instead.

Seriously, I don’t know how you do it.  You cry over the most trivial things, but still, you get me to believe that nothing matters more in the world than you getting a turn with the “good” xylophone.

I don’t want to spoil you by always giving in, but I don’t want to stifle your theatrical gifts either.

Bravo, kids.  Brav.  O.

4.  I don’t know how we’re going to pay for your college.

I’m really grateful you guys have no concept of money, because if you knew what college costs versus how much money we have in the bank, you’d wake up crying at night even more than you already do.

Let’s put it in terms of Play-Doh.  If you add together all the various sources of Play-Doh at our disposal — the cans in the craft cabinet, the little mini tubs that came with the Cookie Monster Letter Lunch set, a few unopened packages we keep stashed in the closet for rainy days — it’s a comfortable amount.

Now picture all the Play-Doh in the world.  That’s what a year of college is going to cost by the time you guys are filling out your applications.  I’m not exaggerating.  Our Play-Doh supply would barely cover one semester of independent study credits at that college in Texas that gets all the oil subsidies.  We’re screwed.

I mean, sure, we have a few years.  We’ll keep stashing away Play-Doh in the meantime, but don’t get your hopes up.

5.  I find your speech impediments adorable.

I’ve written here before about how much I hate baby talk, and I stand by that.  Grownups trying to sound like kids are idiotic.  But secretly, I love hearing little kids try to sound like grownups, and failing.

I love Sutton’s slight lisp, and I get a kick out of the way Bennett drops his “S” from the start of words (“Daddy, ‘utton wants a ‘nack!”)  These things remind me, as you’re growing up, that you’re still going to be little kids for a while.

I know better than to encourage poor speech habits, of course.  I do the right thing, suppressing my smiles and correcting you gently, so you’ll learn to speak properly.  But secretly, whenever you mangle the English language, I’m thinking, “Aww!”

6.  Your other Grandpa, my dad, is dead.

Sorry, this one’s kind of a downer.  I’ve shown you pictures of my dad, and I’ve told you a bit about him, but I’m really grateful that you’re still too young to ask the big question: “How come we’ve never met him?”  To explain that, I’d have to tell you about death.  Then you’d figure out the really big secret, that daddies can die.

Ugh, I just can’t have that talk with you.  And it’s not just about you not being ready.  I’m not ready either.  I don’t know when I will be.

When we talk about your mystery Grandpa, I tell you the good things, and then I change the subject.  I know I won’t be able to get away with that forever, but for now, that’s the best plan I have.

Grandpa loved kids, by the way.  You would’ve had so much fun with him.

7.  “F#&%”, “S*@#”, A$$#@!&”.

You know that Madonna song we love to sing along to?  You’ve probably noticed how I always turn down the volume when M.I.A.’s rap part comes on.  Let’s just say there are a few vocabulary words which may come in handy later in life, but which I’m glad you haven’t picked up on just yet.

8.  I was an even pickier eater at your age than you are.

I spend way more energy than any sane person should trying to get you kids to eat things you don’t want to.  Even your junk food diet is limited.  C’mon, why can’t you see how awesome Taco Bell is?

Here’s the truth, though: If I’m always encouraging you to try new foods, it’s mostly because I don’t want you to end up like me.  I’m living proof you can live to the age of 14 eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and pretzels.

Sure, at some point my tastes got a bit more exotic (i.e., Taco Bell), but I’m hoping that, unlike me, you’ll have at least sampled each of the four food groups before you reach puberty.

9.  Someday, I’m going to go back to work.

I know you don’t understand work.  That’s why you’ll sometimes cry in the middle of the afternoon and demand to pick Daddy up at the train station, as if he’s just waiting there all day for us to swing by.

Work takes daddies away from their kids, that’s all you really grasp of the concept.  Well, this may come as a shock to you, but before you were born, I used to work, too.  Staying home with you is better than any job I’ve ever had, and it’s worth every sacrifice Daddy and I have had to make.  It’s not going to last forever, though.  In the future, you won’t need me as much, at least not as much as we’ll need the second income.

A few months ago, I was in the running for a job, one that would’ve been too good to pass up.  I’m not going to lie, I was excited about the prospect.  I was also heartbroken.  I imagined what it would be like to tell you I was going back to work, that you would now have two daddies you hardly ever saw.

Then you’d cry about how much you missed both of us, to a person we hired to take care of you all day.

10.  You guys are my best friends.

I used to think people who were BFFs with their kids were terrifically sad.  Now, I kind of get it.  No offense to any of my grown-up friends, but you’re way cooler than any of them.

Yes, I need adult conversation once in a while.  I need to talk about politics and celebrity scandals and last night’s Breaking Bad.  But in general, your reluctant, unfocused recounting of your school day is better than any of that.  Really?  Billy spilled his juice at snack time?  Tell me more!

Again, you can never know this, because the only thing sadder than you being my best friends would be if I were yours.  You don’t need a graying old doofus roughly 14 times your age as a buddy.  You need me as a parent.  My job isn’t to play trains with you and Billy after school, it’s to serve you juice… and to send Billy’s parents the cleaning bill when he spills it all over you.

F#&%in’ Billy.


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122 comments on “The 10 Biggest Secrets I Keep From My Kids

  1. This was just lovely. I’m a little choked up, but smiling, and appreciative of the honesty. This is the sort of stuff that even parents don’t normally confess to each other. A shame we lose out on being closer to each other (big people, I mean), by keeping those secrets, afraid of judgement we feel we deserve.
    My boys are all three so big now (youngest 16), but this did me good tonight. Thanks!

    • Thanks — glad you could relate. I like to think that acknowledging my flaws as a parent helps make me a better parent, but even if it doesn’t, it burns off some of the guilt. 🙂

      • Agreed. And you are wise to do it the way you are. I recall, when my youngest was 12, being a bit too confessional, when he said, “What am I now, your therapist?” I backtracked and took another route at that point. You learn as you go in this venture. 🙂

  2. I am so in love with this blog 🙂 I had to stifle my laughs all the way through (my Little Mister is napping and I am determined that he will continue to for the next hour)! You seem like such an awesome dad. Oh, and this blog is going on my blogroll.

  3. I’m a nanny to 22-month-old twin girls (who, incidentally, are the lights of my life) and I laughed along to so much of this! I, too, seem to not need healthy nutrition like other (normal) people and instead wait until the kids are napping to fill myself with junk food. I’ll eat half a box of Triscuits for lunch 20 minutes after telling them that crackers are not a lunch food. I am a hypocrite.

    “Now picture all the Play-Doh in the world. That’s what a year of college is going to cost…” This made me laugh out loud, so brilliant!

    • Thanks! You’re so lucky to be nannying twins. I love raising my kids, and as much as I love the age they are now, I miss 22 months old. Enjoy the cuteness as it develops at every stage along the way!

  4. What about #11? Ok, we can listen to One Direction if you really want to but Daddy rather listen to something else. But I guess you’re fully open about your boy band love? Maybe it’s one you should start keeping as a secret though. Just saying.

  5. Taco Bell rules. For me there was a sweet spot around four years old when they wanted to be with their peers…and well, so did I. I went back to work. Happily. My oldest is now ten and she’s starting to need me more. Just to be there. Just to listen and help her navigate the tough ten stuff. I would have never seen this coming. For now, it’s nothing a bean burrito with extra onions can’t fix. Small kids, small problems. Big kids, big problems. I see a lot more Taco Bell in our future.

    • The funny thing is, the kids ask for Taco Bell all the time time, and I have to remind them about the one time we went there and they refused to eat anything. Maybe it’s an acquired taste — I’m really hoping they’ll acquire it soon.

  6. This is so wonderful and, well, I get it. I waited until my guys were 10 and 13 before I went back to work and mostly because I had to start saving more for university! I think that the time we invest in our children, whether we can care for them full time, part time or just a bit, is the best investment in our lives and their lives. It is about quality not quantity, but take the quantity whenever you can! I still value hearing about every detail of life with my 20 and 23 year olds – what’s the weather doing there? How was work today? We text about clouds that look like eagles and the nasty bus driver who left them in the rain…..and the great thing they learned in medical anthropology. The conversations you have today are building blocks for the time when they STILL are your BFFs.

    • Thanks as always for so eloquently sharing your perspective, Paula. I can’t express what an amazing gift it’s been to stay home with my kids, and I hope I’ll always have a close relationship with them. Good to hear that it worked out that way for you!

  7. I just saw your spot on the Today Show. I was moved to tears no less than 3 times, and when it was over I had to know more of your story. Found your blog (thank you Google!) and spent the last 30 minutes laughing as I related to your adventures in parenting. Thanks for the parenting pick-me-up! And, I was JUST THINKING of #2 on your top ten list yesterday as I shoved half a dozen oreos in my mouth after getting my ball of energy down for his afternoon nap 🙂 To read that others engage in the junk junk nap snack made me feel WAY better! Keep up the good work!

  8. Hi! I just discovered your blog – so far, I love it! Although, I’m only two posts in…nay, three (this one, the one about Kirk Cameron, and the Teacher Conference).

    I have four kids, and so many of these 10 apply to us, too (esp. 1, 3, 4, 5, 7)! My “real” dad, though, isn’t dead, but a manipulative, controlling, former alcoholic who is toxic (just as tough to communicate).

    Confession time: I am a youth pastor at a Christian church near Minneapolis, and I am trying to thoughtfully and lovingly sort out my thoughts about homosexuality and our response to it. I am only 33 (that’s still young, right?), so in many ways I don’t suffer from many of the reactionary burdens that some of my older friends do, when it comes to homosexuality. I’m certainly not convinced that it is as black and white as they believe it to be (not ALL, but some of them). But I was certainly raised with some of these traditional burdens (though I am always critiquing old thought patterns, etc.)

    I found your blog on MSNBC in an article about how to talk with your kids about gay parents – very insightful, by the way, and I thought it would be good to hear more as I navigate these waters.

    You are obviously a gifted writer, and from the two posts on parenting, seem like a great dad! For these two reasons, and because I would love to learn more about gay parenting and marriage – I am officially adding you to my blog folder on my Chrome dashboard. Hope you don’t mind.

    • Ryan- Your post warms my heart. I wish more people would be willing to open their minds and learn more about the people they have been taught are evil, sinful, whatever! Bravo to you!

    • Thanks, Ryan. So good to hear from you and so happy you’ve added me to your reader!

      I’m amazed at how fast times and minds have changed in regard to our society’s acceptance of homosexuality. If more people had an open mind and got to know what (and who) they were talking about before condemning it, the world would be a better place. Thanks for giving it some thought!

  9. My daughter is seven now, and oh how I miss the funny ways she would say things. She also had problems with her “s” sounds, and I have to admit I cried a little when we finally sent her to speech therapy to correct them. Thank God for home movies. My son is starting to lose a lot of his cute speech habits as well. Thankfully, he has created some new ones while trying to learn the “right” way to talk. Like he used to call lunch “munch.” He now gets that there’s an “l” in there, but hasn’t quite dropped the “m” yet, so it comes out “mlunch.” It makes me melt every time! Great post!!!

  10. I use to love the one syllable words from my little tater tots……funny,now that they are in college they still respond with one syllable words….

    I was a SA(H)P..stay at home parent, with my kids, I gave up numerous job opportunities as well…moral of the story: My kids are grown, healthy, fun, funny, and still LIKE me……ME, on the other hand an old babbling idiot……
    Keep up the great work!

  11. #3 (and I apologize if this is a duplicate comment but I could not for the life of me log in to my account). Once the novelty wears off you will stop falling for their tears. I don’t know when that is, there’s probably a Google algorithm involved but I’m not good at math. All I know is that when they lose the new baby smell and get too heavy to carry on your hip it loses it’s power over you. The nice thing is that as they age they start falling for your fake tears…so score!

    This post really made me laugh. I just had the dead father/grandpa conversation and the worst part about it is that they would have loved him so much and he would have thought they were the best.

    • Thanks for the comment. I keep waiting to get to the point where their tears don’t affect me. I’m hoping it will come. And I’m going to start using my tears to guilt them — great tip! 🙂

  12. Yes, yes, yes. To every one. I was saying, “SERIOUSLY” to each one until you got to grandpa. Oh, gawd how my grandpa would have loved these kids.

    The death discussion is easier than you think. But start with a dead flower being all done with growing. Then move on to non-pet animal. Then make sure to explain that you’re not going anywhere for a long, long time.

    Then give them some of your naptime cookies.

    • Thanks for the tip. I love the dead flower idea. The part that gets me hung up is the promise that I’m not going anywhere for a long, long time. I mean, who knows? Sure, if something happens to me, it’s not like I’ll be here for them to call me on the lie, but… ugh, I just can’t think about it anymore. LA LA LA I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS LA LA LA…

  13. This blog is pure awesome. I love how munchkin’s make up words. I used to love it secretly but now I’m out of the closet about it. I miss that the munchkin no longer calls the wife a photovater. Sure, photographer is correct and all but her word was so much cuter. My favorite word of hers has to be alsoly and I’ll use it until the day I die. I wrote a blog about it.
    I’m so following this blog now though.

  14. You lost me at “While you’re napping, I shove my face full of chocolate chip cookies for two hours straight.” because I honestly can NOT remember the last time my kids napped for 2 straight hours… I remember I did and then woke up needing tips for sharpie removal. THANKS FOR THIS!

    • These days, I’m lucky when the naps last 2 hours, but that’s what we aim for. I got this alarm clock that lights up after two hours, so they know it’s OK to come out of the room. It’s been working pretty well, though once they realize the clock has no real authority, I’m going to need a new idea. 🙂

  15. This post is fantastic. I can absolutely related to these secrets – especially the stuffing my face with cookies while they’re napping – lol. Oh how I miss the days when my son was young and I kept these kids of secrets! 🙂

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  17. Oh teary-tear, the acting! I actually found that the little monster has only recently acquired the high skills of making it sound completely sincere. It is honestly heartbreaking to listen to his wailing when I send him to his own bed because otherwise I invariably wake up with a sore back from trying to sleep on my side to make room for him in our bed. A real tearjerker!

    Oh yes, and the little speech imperfections that are so cute that, everytime one goes out the window, I have to shed a little tear, too. Adorable! I can completely relate to your list, as always.

    • I did discover an interesting fact over the last few days — although my daughter is an excellent fake crier, she is TERRIBLE at faking being sick. I mean, she literally says, “Ah-choo” instead of sneezing. Maybe her Academy Award can wait, after all.

  18. My friend Ally recommended this post and it went perfectly with my morning tea and cookies. My son loves listening to Mumford and Sons with me and someone told me they don’t let their kids listen to it. Took me forever to figure out why…

  19. I love this!! Your #1 and #2 are pretty much my early morning/afternoon. Get the kids to calm down by watching some tv, then stuff my face with M & Ms while they nap. Great post and great blog!!

  20. Love this post, Jerry – it’s so funny and so true (“It’s funny because it’s true”)! The one that really hit a note for me is #5. H could not say his “th” sounds for the longest time, and substituted a bunch of different letters – one two Free, someTing, anySing, Dis, etc. The funniest were “tumb” and “torn” for “thumb” and “thorn.” Then one night a few months ago, as he was falling asleep, out of nowhere, he just started practicing his words, saying “the, thumb, thing…” I was so proud of him, but secretly a little sad. So … when he says “callapitter” or “LightMing A’Queen,” I don’t correct him. Let the cuteness last a bit longer…

  21. Awesome post! I was giggling throughout, awesome! You’re sharing is absolutely awesome! 😀 K, I think I said awesome at least four times. AWESOME! Your writing of great honesty has definitely shaped into your very own style. LoVE the cookie photo! I love cookie monster! You emulate cookie monster! and hence my dedication to you and your family:

  22. Pingback: 10 biggest secrets I keep from my kids

  23. Seems like you spoke for all of us parents when you wrote that! Absolutely loved this line: “your reluctant, unfocused recounting of your school day is better than any of that. Really? Billy spilled his juice at snack time? Tell me more!”
    And your groveling at the end was adorable! (undoubtedly a trick you learned from your “best friends” :))

  24. So cute. I am a mom of 4 year old Quadruplets (Laurie’s sister). As for the eating while the kids were napping… when they stopped napping we were in a dilemma. My husband and I take turns disappearing in the basement for 10 minutes at a time. Best of luck 🙂

    • Hi Tracy! I’ve seen some pics of your adorable kids on Facebook. I can’t even imagine having quadruplets. I wish you’d write a blog, but I’m sure you don’t have the time. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  25. Don’t worry about the whole college thing – I’m sure Sutton will qualify for a scholarship from Mars U. (<— Oldest. Callback. Ever.)

  26. Pingback: The Ten Biggest Secrets Kept from Kids: A Dad Bares all — The Good Men Project

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  28. Hi, I just discoverd this blog and already love it. Thank you!

    As for #8: A couple of cookie cutters and just about any vegetable or fruit that can be sliced thinly enough make for a really nice rainy afternoon program. It’s a healthy snack, goes easy on the Play-Doh stash 😉 and keeps them occupied for at least the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee in peace. Win, win and win.

    Also, no amount of pouting is going to guilt you into adding raw carrot hearts to the ever-growing collection of shoe boxes full of things that are too cute to throw out. 🙂

  29. I am new to the blogging world. I absolutely love your blogs. Your parenting style is almost identical to mine. I love your honestly and humor. I love that you are a gay dad! My eldest son is almost 18 and came out in December 2011. I was so worried that I would never see him with a family.(truly my only real concern) I want this world to have little “Tyler’s” in it.(his name, of course)He is just to remarkable to not have spawn. I think that his parenting style would be similar to ours.(you and me…yes, we are already lifelong friends. ;-))
    I also can’t wait to read about the teenage years and your parenting adventures. My crew are 17, 15, and 11. (All born on the same day) They are my life.
    Anyway, just wanted to say…keep the stories coming. I look forward to reading them.

    • Hi and welcome to the blog! I can’t wait to check yours out to see what your parenting style is like. Sounds like I will be a fan.

      Lucky you to have a gay son. We’re pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. 🙂

  30. This is awesomely hilarious! And I’m so glad I found your blog through Scary Mommy and your post about how to talk to kids about gay families (an extra thanks for that, by the way, because now I feel like I’m doing it at least half right). In addition to following you here, I’m also stalking you on facebook. Can’t wait to see more! 🙂

  31. I loved this!! My weakness is ice cream. Sometimes I really want a bowl for breakfast and I get all crazy stealth to do so. I feed the kid, then turn on a show he loves. I slowly scoop a bowl, hoping he will be too distracted to notice. If I am caught & he asks, I tell him it’s gross oatmeal. He doesn’t even enjoy ice cream like I do (he asks for fruit instead! INSANE!) so I’m not sure if he’d care, but I cannot risk it! IMAGINE if I had to share my secret stash? Hell no.

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  33. Loved every bullet point. Brav.O. 🙂 Number 2 especially resonated with me. I often think how skinny I’d be if I did the baby diet: no eating between 7pm-7am or 1-4pm. It’s embarrassing that I have to eat my own snack before I snack (AGAIN) with my toddler ;p

  34. Hilarious and moving at the same time…I found you through scary mommy and am looking forward to reading more when my BFF’s are in bed for the night! I’m def adding you to my blog roll! (even though my blog is small potatoes!)

  35. Ha!! I’ve just found your blog via Scary Mommy, and thank you! I think somehow your kids and mine share a little bit of Meryl in the gene pool – you put the whole child tears scenario so succinctly! You have a new reader from the other side of the Pacific!

    • Thanks! It’s been a few months since I wrote this post, and while Meryl just gets better with age, I’m starting to see some cracks in my kids’ talent — or maybe I’m just getting more jaded and immune to their tears. They’re still pretty good actors, though. 🙂

  36. This is by far the best thing I’ve ever read! Absolutely hysterical. I’m in love with your blog and have spent the last few days reading all your posts! You are awesome! Stay at home parents unite!

  37. This is so sweet! I love it. Just sent it to my husband. And my mom, who used to hide in the closet to eat Snicker’s bars, while feeding us carob-coated Tiger’s Milk bars and pretending to like them herself.

  38. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find most
    of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content available
    for you? I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on some of the subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome weblog!

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  40. Your site is a huge inspiration to me. I have just started blogging and looking at back at your first few posts really lets me see that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. This post was hilarious, i can’t wait until my kiddo and I can talk about Billy.. I get more Babas and Gagas now.

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  45. Hahaha, this was great! I really enjoyed this; I thought back to my niece the entire time! I’m incredibly hypocritical to her about food as I shove Doritos in my mouth and when she acts all grown up when I get sarcastic is the best. You are such a great writer! Can’t wait to read more!

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