She had been a little squirmy on the way home from school. Preoccupied.
What is it?
Well, Mandy, she . . . promise me you won’t get mad?
Tell me, honey.
Mandy said not to tell you. She gave me this to keep and bring to school so we can play with it and she told me not to tell you. Promise me you won’t tell Daddy?
She was petrified, tormented as she reached inside her backpack. I had never seen anything like it, not that there aren’t plenty of things like it, a little toy, one piece of a two-way text messaging set that must be the walkie-talkie of these degenerate times. It was harmless, really, but Georgia had heard enough about how cell phones and iPods and mp3 players and every handheld electronic thingy orbiting her world was not a toy and not for her and Mandy had encrypted it all in a secret and Georgia was now trembling, crumbling with the weight of this second-grade conspiracy.
We didn’t tell Daddy. I told Georgia to give the toy back to Mandy the next day. I said I could see that having it made her scared and uncomfortable so she couldn’t keep it. I didn’t tell her how good she was or how bad she was. I didn’t scold her, and thereby add insult to her self-inflicted injury. And I didn’t tell her how happy she made me. Happy not because she trusted me. Not because she couldn’t keep a secret. Not because she couldn’t tell a lie. But because she couldn’t tell a lie to herself.
She’ll be OK, this little one. And Daddy (right, Daddy?) will be OK too.
I’ve about had it with the Truth. We’re off for a long weekend in Seattle to meet the mysteries that turned up one day in the mailbox.