‘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!