One temptation parents occasionally yield to is to claim that their children are under twelve years old. If the kids cooperate and the teller at the window isn’t observant, the deception works. But dishonesty is a skill that some children haven’t mastered. My mentally-challenged brother was one who couldn’t understand the ruse Mom planned.
Like many parents in the summer of 1971, my mom took us shopping for school supplies. Though Fort Saskatchewan was technically a city, it lacked the variety and affordability of Edmonton’s shops.
We toured the various department stores all afternoon. Shopping for school clothes wasn’t what we thought of as a good time but choosing the pencil crayons, rulers, oil pastels, and art gum erasers was actually interesting.
Mom made sure we arrived at the ticket counter early so we wouldn’t miss our bus home. She asked the man behind the counter for three adult fares (for herself, Diane, and me) and two children’s tickets for Linda and Roy.
When the clerk asked how old Roy was, Mom said, “Eleven.”
Roy, who’s birthday was in July, overheard and piped up, “I’m trelve! I’m trelve!” He still couldn’t pronounce words with “tw” in them. Mom tried to hush and elbow Roy but he let the entire bus depot know that he was “trelve.”
Mom blushed as she paid the fair.
“Why did you have to say you’re twelve?,” Mom scolded once we’d sat down to wait for our bus. “I could have gotten a half price ticket if you hadn’t opened your big mouth.”
“But I’m trelve,” Roy proudly proclaimed.
Though honesty is the best policy, it can cost. Many truthful people would rather pay the price, realizing that integrity is more valuable. Mom’s actions didn’t demonstrate that at the time. Roy, though he didn’t have the whit to keep silent or say he was eleven, showed the better example. Mom could have saved a few dollars but her dishonesty might have misled us.
More vignettes like this one are in my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School) memoir. It and When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies) are available from my Bruce Atchison’s books page.