A few weeks ago, the two oldest (10-year-old Ryan and 8-year-old Sammy) and I were on our way to drop them off at school. For no reason, Sammy asks, "Before you and Dad were married, had you ever been divorced?"
While Sammy is often asking things out of the blue or off-subject, this time really threw me for a loop. I replied with, "What made you ask that?"
Sammy replied with, "I don't know. Have you ever been divorced? I mean, before you married Dad?"
Hoping to derail the question, I said, "Are you asking because someone you know's parents are getting divorced? Because I heard of somebody's parents getting divorced, but I didn't want to say anything to you."
Sammy said, "No. Have you?"
I said, "It's Michael. Michael B.'s parents are getting divorced. I'm sure it's very hard for him. I hope you won't make him sad by saying anything to him."
"No," Sammy said. "Have you?"
We're now less than two minutes from school. What the hell am I supposed to say?
"Yes," I say. "I was married before I met Dad. His name was Gerry. That's why, Ryan, we'll sometimes get mail addressed to my first name but a different last name."
Sammy, as is her style, is nonchalant about it. "Oh," is the most she can say. And then she tunes out again. [Thanks, Sam. Make a bomb drop and then go back about your business.] Ryan is shocked, but it's mostly by the fact that he never knew. The fact of my fallen woman status means nothing to him. Let's face it, when your two oldest kids attend your wedding to their father, it's no big deal in the general scheme of things that you'd been married before.
Later that day, I drive five -- yes, 1,2,3,4,5 -- girls from Ryan's class to a field trip while he rides with his best friend and his mom. For whatever reason, the subject turns to jail. One of the girls asks if my husband or I have ever been in jail. I laugh out loud and say absolutely not. Then I remember Pete's run-in with the Soviet police many years ago, so I amend the outright denial slightly to explain, briefly, that adventure.
As I'm driving all three of my own kids home that day, I say to Ryan, "Oh, K. asked me if Dad or I had ever been in jail. I told them about your Dad being in the Russian jail, so don't be surprised if they ask you about it."
Ryan, shocked to the core, says, "Dad's been in jail? What? When?" I explain the circumstances to him and tell him to ask Pete for more detail. His response when I'm done? "What else have you been hiding from us?"
Oh, don't ask questions you don't want the answers to, kid. We've all got secrets.
[Written for Sunday Scribblings and the fine ladies' prompt of "I have a secret." Read other soul-baring entries here.]