‘The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so he can tell when he is really in trouble!’ –Author unknown (at least to me)

While funny, the above statement was also true for my brothers, sisters, and me, when we were growing up. I came from a family of 7, and when our middle names were used, we knew we were in deep trouble.

But there was another indicator that warned of even bigger problems:

When our mom REALLY got angry or flustered, she’d blank on the correct name of the child in trouble, and in her frustration she’d start running all of our names together as if it was all one name, “RussellCindyRogerRandyAnita come here NOW!!!”. At that point it was almost like a military drill as we all scrambled to stand in front of her.

One of my brothers had the unfortunate trait that when he was being scolded and was especially nervous, he’d burst out laughing–which, as you might imagine, initially enraged our parents all the more. After several instances of this they realized that he wasn’t doing it to be disrespectful , and he couldn’t help himself, but it made for some very unpleasant episodes for all concerned.

There were times when something bad had happened–perhaps a lamp had been broken–and we’d all be lined up.
My dad or mom would ask in a stern voice, “Who broke the lamp?”

Sometimes their question would only be met by silence as we all tried to put on our most innocent “not me” faces.

After several long excruciating moments of this intense standoff, threats of dire consequences if we didn’t fess up would begin.

If that still didn’t result in a confession, the severity of the consequences would begin to escalate.

But sometimes no one would confess despite the lengthy grilling and onerous threats. In those situations, my other brother would eventually often confess. I found out years later that he often confessed to things he hadn’t done just because he wanted the questioning to end. The guilty party/parties apparently had learned that if they stalled long enough they could wait him out!

About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
This entry was posted in Family "Fun", Humor, Parenting, Quotes I Love, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to TROUBLE!

  1. The trick is to act like you are sure you know they did it. They always crack!! Game theory and parenting should be taught in the same classroom! 😉

  2. russtowne says:

    LOL! Yes, that usally worked with our children. They weren’t very good liars–we didn’t let them have much practice and were consistent with the message that lies would get them into far more trouble in our home than just about anything they could do. They quickly learned that telling the truth saved them a TON of trouble, and lying greatly magnified their problems. Thank you for your comment and suggestion!


  3. Elyse says:

    Like yours, my parents would start all lectures with their eldest. I was fifth and last. And I would always hear: “Lease, we’ve had five children. Beth, Bob, Judy, Fred, and now you (did they think i didn’t remember my siblings?) Then they would proceed to tell me how I was no different from the others. At last, one night in absolute total teen rebellion I answered my father back: “Why don’t you just give us numbers?” Ever after, I became No. 5 to my Dad, a term of affection which still makes me smile.

  4. russtowne says:

    Your comments cracked me up Elyse! Thank you for sharing the story!

  5. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Yes, Russ, the full name thing is pretty universal among families. And while I don’t have kids personally, I’m sure there’s always payback when you do have your own! This one made me smile…Cathy

  6. russtowne says:

    Hi, Cathy. I agree that it is very common in the U.S.I wonder how true that is for cultures around the world. Perhaps some readers will clue me in. Perhaps you already knew that answer and just gave it to me.

    Thank you for your comment!


  7. Gina's Professions for PEACE says:

    Great story, and I chuckle at the ‘fill-in-all-kids-names-here’! I do it when my eldest comes over… I start to mix up the boys’ names! And I only have TWO! They laugh and say when I call out the double-name (both their first names) it’s the LAST name I say of who I’m calling. And it’s true. One friend said her mom, when in a rush, mixed up her name with the cat! LOL

  8. russtowne says:

    Thank you for your kind comment and fun stories, gina. My mom once called me by my Aunt Margie’s name. I think the connection that went off in her brain is that Aunt Margie is my Godmother, hence the momentary confusion!


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