It was with an unmistakable sense of purpose that Sooby entered the house Friday night clutching a small pink gift bag. "Quick!" she said before her mama and the other kids scrambled out of the van laden with the paraphernalia required for a weekend stay. "We can't let Mom see this! It's her Mother's Day present!"
Just like that, I was involved in a conspiracy. At school that day, with the help of her second-grade teacher, she had collected a nice laminated bookmark, an original handwritten "Mom" tribute, a cellophane tube of instant coffee, and a handful of Dove chocolates. She was determined to keep the gift a surprise until today, but she was clearly worried.
"I don't know where to put this," she said, "and I'm afraid the chocolate will melt!"
"Go put the bag under your bed," I said, "and I'll put the chocolates in the fridge." We worked fast. We have been partners in crime before.
Fast-forward to this morning. Sooby is up early, ready to reassemble her gift so that it would be ready when Mama woke up. "Go down and put the candy back in," she instructs, handing me the sack, whereupon I descend the steps at my furtive best.
Good, I think, as I notice daughter Cookie still asleep on the house's lowest level. Stealthily, I open the "secret" drawer of the fridge and prepare to confiscate the candy.
One miserable Dove stares back at me. The rest of the candy has gone AWOL. Suddenly, I find myself on the middle floor of a tri-level house with a crisis on my hands. (I know it looked like a pink bag, but I guarantee you it was a crisis.)
Hearing Cookie stirring around a bit, I waste no time. I am about to be a turncoat and leak major sensitive information. "Did you eat the candy in the bottom drawer of the fridge?" I demand. There is no time for "Good morning."
"Yes," she readily confesses in a "So what?" kind of tone.
Fifteen seconds later she understood the crisis proportions of the situation and we had a plan in place. I would staple the top of the sack so that Sooby couldn't peek inside to see that we were short a few Doves. Cookie would open the bag at a safe distance, exclaim appropriately over each item, and leave the candy until last.
My daughter was in some theatre performances in high school and college, but I never saw a performance to equal this one. She pulled off the cover-up expertly, identifying, as she looked into the bag, all the flavors of the candy she had eaten the night before. She was brilliant. Sooby was proud. I was a nervous wreck.
All's well that ends well, as they say, and one day Cookie and I will share "the rest of the story" with Sooby in our finest Paul Harvey fashion. Meanwhile, I think I had better contemplate better hiding places for contraband in the event that people I love have secrets to hide and an insatiable appetite for chocolate.