The Secrets We Keep From Our Kids

Hey guys, it’s me, Daddy, and I’m only writing this post because you can’t read, you don’t know what a blog is and because you’re still in that developmental sweet spot where you take everything I tell you at face value.


Your old man is full of secrets, things that could destroy my authority if you ever found out.  Here are 10 highly classified facts that I will take to my grave… or at least wait to tell you until you have kids of your own.

1.  TV is a reward for me, not you. There’s a reason I never promise you TV for being good.  When you’re behaving, I don’t need to turn on the TV.  Overall, you guys are terrific company… but when you’re not, that’s when TV comes to my rescue.  Those 22 blissful minutes ofYo Gabba Gabba are my reward for getting through the crying, whining, fighting meltdown madness that’s become a recurring feature of your toddlerhood.

Here’s the big secret: if you want more TV, you should act out more.  You know how sometimes I’ll pop popcorn and we’ll have a “movie day”, where we get to watch all of Beauty & The Beast orToy Story from beginning to end?

When that happens, you’ve been BAAAAAAAAAD.

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You can never know this, of course, because that would encourage you to misbehave.  So I have to be clever about it.  I always make sure to calm you down first, so you don’t know that I’m only turning on the TV because I’m on the verge of tearing off your Tickle Me Elmo’s head with my teeth.

2.  While you’re napping, I shove my face full of chocolate chip cookies for two hours straight. You don’t see me eat much, do you?  It’s not because I don’t require sustenance like every other human being, though if it adds to your sense that Daddy is some kind of awesome superhuman, I’m fine with that.  No, the real reason I never eat in front of you is because when you’re watching, I need to model good eating habits.  You think I like eating vegetables and chewing slowly?  Phooey!

I spend every moment in your presence suppressing my natural urge to shovel peanut butter M&Ms through my maw by the fistful.  When you’re asleep, oh boy, do I make up for lost time.  I practically funnel chocolate sauce directly down my throat.  I watch lots of TV, too, and I sit as close to the screen as I want.

3.  I fall for your crocodile tears about 90% of the time. I don’t know whose side of the family it comes from, but I’d be willing to bet that you two have some Meryl Streep in your blood.  Your performances are unparalleled.  You are gripping emotional powerhouses, both of you, able to summon cascades of tears at will.  I feel like I should be tossing bouquets of flowers at your feet, or at least teaching you to act out Uncle Vanya so your talents can be put to good use.

Even when I’m sure you’re faking, I get sucked into the performance.  I want to give you that second cookie you’re demanding only because I don’t have an Oscar to hand over instead.

Seriously, I don’t know how you do it.  You cry over the most trivial things, but still, you get me to believe that nothing matters more in the world than you getting a turn with the “good” xylophone.

I don’t want to spoil you by always giving in, but I don’t want to stifle your theatrical gifts either.

Bravo, kids.  Brav.  O.

4.  I don’t know how we’re going to pay for your college. I’m really grateful you guys have no concept of money, because if you knew what college costs versus how much money we have in the bank, you’d wake up crying at night even more than you already do.

Let’s put it in terms of Play-Doh.  If you add together all the various sources of Play-Doh at our disposal — the cans in the craft cabinet, the little mini tubs that came with the Cookie Monster Letter Lunch set, a few unopened packages we keep stashed in the closet for rainy days — it’s a comfortable amount.

Now picture all the Play-Doh in the world.  That’s what a year of college is going to cost by the time you guys are filling out your applications.  I’m not exaggerating.  Our Play-Doh supply would barely cover one semester of independent study credits at that college in Texas that gets all the oil subsidies.  We’re screwed.

I mean, sure, we have a few years.  We’ll keep stashing away Play-Doh in the meantime, but don’t get your hopes up.

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5.  I find your speech impediments adorable. I’ve written here before about how much I hate baby talk, and I stand by that.  Grownups trying to sound like kids are idiotic.  But secretly, I love hearing little kids try to sound like grownups, and failing.

I love Sutton’s slight lisp, and I get a kick out of the way Bennett drops his “S” from the start of words (“Daddy, ‘utton wants a ‘nack!”)  These things remind me, as you’re growing up, that you’re still going to be little kids for a while.

I know better than to encourage poor speech habits, of course.  I do the right thing, suppressing my smiles and correcting you gently, so you’ll learn to speak properly.  But secretly, whenever you mangle the English language, I’m thinking, “Aww!”

6.  Your other Grandpa, my dad, is dead. Sorry, this one’s kind of a downer.  I’ve shown you pictures of my dad, and I’ve told you a bit about him, but I’m really grateful that you’re still too young to ask the big question: “How come we’ve never met him?”  To explain that, I’d have to tell you about death.  Then you’d figure out the really big secret, that daddies can die.

Ugh, I just can’t have that talk with you.  And it’s not just about you not being ready.  I’m not ready either.  I don’t know when I will be.

When we talk about your mystery Grandpa, I tell you the good things, and then I change the subject.  I know I won’t be able to get away with that forever, but for now, that’s the best plan I have.

Grandpa loved kids, by the way.  You would’ve had so much fun with him.

7.  “F#&%”, “S*@#”, A$$#@!&”. You know that Madonna song we love to sing along to?  You’ve probably noticed how I always turn down the volume when M.I.A.’s rap part comes on.  Let’s just say there are a few vocabulary words which may come in handy later in life, but which I’m glad you haven’t picked up on just yet.

8.  I was an even pickier eater at your age than you are. I spend way more energy than any sane person should trying to get you kids to eat things you don’t want to.  Even your junk food diet is limited.  C’mon, why can’t you see how awesome Taco Bell is?

Here’s the truth, though: If I’m always encouraging you to try new foods, it’s mostly because I don’t want you to end up like me.  I’m living proof you can live to the age of 14 eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and pretzels.

Sure, at some point my tastes got a bit more exotic (i.e., Taco Bell), but I’m hoping that, unlike me, you’ll have at least sampled each of the four food groups before you reach puberty.

9.  Someday, I’m going to go back to work. I know you don’t understand work.  That’s why you’ll sometimes cry in the middle of the afternoon and demand to pick Daddy up at the train station, as if he’s just waiting there all day for us to swing by.

Work takes daddies away from their kids, that’s all you really grasp of the concept.  Well, this may come as a shock to you, but before you were born, I used to work, too.  Staying home with you is better than any job I’ve ever had, and it’s worth every sacrifice Daddy and I have had to make.  It’s not going to last forever, though.  In the future, you won’t need me as much, at least not as much as we’ll need the second income.

A few months ago, I was in the running for a job, one that would’ve been too good to pass up.  I’m not going to lie, I was excited about the prospect.  I was also heartbroken.  I imagined what it would be like to tell you I was going back to work, that you would now have two daddies you hardly ever saw.

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Then you’d cry about how much you missed both of us, to a person we hired to take care of you all day.

10.  You guys are my best friends. I used to think people who were BFFs with their kids were terrifically sad.  Now, I kind of get it.  No offense to any of my grown-up friends, but you’re way cooler than any of them.

Yes, I need adult conversation once in a while.  I need to talk about politics and celebrity scandals and last night’s Breaking Bad.  But in general, your reluctant, unfocused recounting of your school day is better than any of that.  Really?  Billy spilled his juice at snack time?  Tell me more!

Again, you can never know this, because the only thing sadder than you being my best friends would be if I were yours.  You don’t need a graying old doofus roughly 14 times your age as a buddy.  You need me as a parent.  My job isn’t to play trains with you and Billy after school, it’s to serve you juice… and to send Billy’s parents the cleaning bill when he spills it all over you.

F#&%in’ Billy.

About the writer

Jerry Mahoney blogs at His book 'Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad' is now available pretty much wherever you like to buy books.

From Around the Web


Julie Laplante 9 months ago

My hubbie and I do Taco Night and Breakfast-for-Dinner (bacon, sausage, eggs and taters) after the kids are in bed. We also buy Froot Loops and Lucky Charms and hide them from the kids.

Mary Dass 9 months ago


Kelly Beninghove 9 months ago

LOL!! Yep.

Dustan J Kurz 9 months ago


Jennifer Edwards Hess 9 months ago

My husband stays home with out four kids (6 and under)…he will LOVE this!

Tiffany Herron 9 months ago


Carolyn Bamford 9 months ago

Great!! A must read!!!

Stephanie Santucci 9 months ago

#6. My son is 6 and he’s starting to ask some questions. It’s a very difficult topic.

Jo-Ann Sampson Badar 9 months ago

I hide the chocolate on the top shelf of the pantry. Unfortunately they are now tall enough to find it…..

Jessica Wegrzynski Barone 9 months ago

The crocodile tears…..BRAVO. BRA-VO.

Tammy Flahive 9 months ago

Great post

Courtney Pratt 9 months ago

It’d be nicer if the picture attached to it wasn’t clearly a mom and a dad with a baby.

Jerry-Dominique Attere 9 months ago

Yup! That’s me!!

Aisha R Crenshaw 9 months ago

I’m on my third pack of double stuff’s this week!

Summer Rudolph 9 months ago


Charlotte Gammel Wojcik 9 months ago

:) yay for including two- daddy families. And for showing we’re all the same where it counts.

    Life With Teens & Other Wild Things 9 months ago

    Ya know, I didn’t even catch that until you said something.

    Yay for it being so mainstream we don’t even notice sometimes. :)

Beth Tyler 9 months ago

#10–You’re way cooler than my grown-up friends…but I can’t be your BFF, I have to be your parent. Beautiful, sweet, and heartfelt!

Life With Teens and Other Wild Things 9 months ago

Damn #6.
And mine are teens, so I can’t even dodge those conversations anymore. All I can do is tear up when Thing1 says things like “I know Grandpa H was an amazing person. I really wish I could’ve met him.”

Yeah. Me too, buddy. Me too.

Linda Jayne Spray 9 months ago

*Snarfing the chocolates whilst the kids aren’t looking! Right now! Lmao

Melinda Hicks 9 months ago

Ok, teared up at number six.

Amanda Parker 9 months ago

Number 6 tho…

Tova Fisher Rivera 9 months ago

#6. OMG, that hit me hard. :-(

Jennifer Thiele 9 months ago

Number 10 kills me

Nancy Williams Lockman 9 months ago

This is what my kids thought!

Kelly 3 years ago

Wow…may daughter may only be 4 months old, but I know that this is incredibly accurate and also hilarious! You sound like an awesome Dad.

Stacey 3 years ago

Love this. Mine is still cooking, but reading your article is like staring into the future. I can see so many of these applying to me. Just replace chocolate chip cookies with Swiss cake rolls.

Lyn 3 years ago

So so true! Especially TV. I wanted to strangle my husband when he limited the boys’ TV to three shows including DVDS. He also travels for work and is gone most of the time and doesn’t have to hear the whining. Lucky bastard.

Scarlet 3 years ago

#1 – yes! When my daughter was born she, unlike her older brother HATED to nap. So I turned on Disney from the DVR and learned to nap 22 minutes at a time. Those things were so formulaic that if I woke up before one ended I could tell how much time was left by the point in the “plot”.

#5 – I tried so hard with this one and did really well, but both of my kids still say “callepittar” ’cause it’s so stinkin’ cute!

Melissa 3 years ago

#10 made me cry! It’s so true. Thanks for this post <3

Jessica 3 years ago

So funny…because it’s true! I have 2 year old twins and a newborn. Things are pretty crazy and I’m pretty sure my husband and I have done or can relate to everything you’ve written. Thanks! This piece really made my morning :)

Katie 3 years ago

I totally agree, t.v is a reward for us- thats my number one lie to my kid. Your posts are always wonderful!

evalynn rose 3 years ago


With me it’s my grandpa. He died a few months after he married my husband and I, years before we had our baby girl. He would’ve loved to meet our little girl. We named her his favorite name. I try to tell her stories about him, but it makes me cry and she is getting too big to see mama cry like that. Hopefully I’ll get better at it by the time she can understand the stories.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes 3 years ago

You know what the hardest thing is about #5? I start using those words too and eventually they become a household word. For instance: my eldest couldn’t pronounce sandwich, she always said “sashim”. I recently asked for sashim’s at the bakers and can’t even begin to describe the weirded-out look the baker’s lady gave me…

MurphyMustHaveHadKids 3 years ago

I love it, especially #5. When my son started preschool he suddenly started saying his L’s correctly. Instead of “the wittle wight” he said “the little light.” I was so sad because it was the end of an era!Also #2. I have an emergency bag of chocolate chips stashed in the freezer. I say I buy them to make the kids cookies but by the time I get around to that the bag is empty.

Steph 3 years ago

Wonderful post! I really hope you top off that funnel of chocolate sauce by squirting canned whipped cream in your mouth and putting a cherry on top – that’s how I pictured it. You sound like a really fun Daddy.

Weekend Cowgirl 3 years ago

Being your kids best friend. In my book this is a big mistake. I always just wanted to be my kids mom, not their friend which actually makes it very difficult when punishment time rolled around.
Love this post!!!

Kristen Brakeman 3 years ago

This is very sweet and funny! We’ve been joking about the college thing for years. We used to say – see the nice backyard remodel, that’s your college fund. Hysterical. Though now that our eldest daughter is almost 17 I’ve stopped laughing.
Great piece!

Becky 3 years ago

This is great!! I laughed and cried!

Jacqui 3 years ago

Oh, I could relate to so much of this! TV has been to my rescue for years and only starting this year (DDs are 5 & 7) has it become a punishment to remove it.

Explaining your father’s death is a hard one on me. My dad died in January 2012. I was his next of kin, despite living 2,500 miles away. I ended up flying back to my hometown within 48 hours of his death, leaving my DH, Mom & MIL to cover my SAHM duties. The girls didn’t go to the funeral but we did have to explain the situation. They still talk about it sometimes and it breaks my heart every time.

Samantha 3 years ago

This is great. I laughed so hard I cried, and then I really cried. I love this. <3

Karen 3 years ago

Fantastic. We do have many secrets as parents, but it’s for their own good, right? I’m with you on so many of these. My kids are 10 and 7 and I think they’re starting to figure me out a bit. They actually do get kind of smart. ; )

Susan 3 years ago

Good Dad..Your Kids are very fortunate…Keep up the good work..

Brand P 3 years ago

F*ck Billy!

UnderINK 3 years ago

I’m a mom and very few of those actually apply to me (obviously falling for crying, et cetera, do, but most don’t; I reward good behaviour with movie time, I don’t stuff my face with cookies, and my daughter is three years old and already knows about death). Cute list though.

    evalynn rose 3 years ago

    I’m a mom and I can put away a pack of oreos in one (naptime) sitting like a boss.

Shefali 3 years ago

So true! TV is reward for me and don’t even get me started on the joys of nap time!
Thinking of college and what its going to cost by the time the kids get there, keeps me awake at night, so thank god they havent figured out money yet.
Loved the post Jerry.

zeemaid 3 years ago

LOL I can soooo relate to #2. have you ever stood with your head inside the pantry door only to be interrupted by the kids and you have to try and chew fast and they want to know what you’re eating. BUSTED. :) Great post, Loved it!

Megan 3 years ago

So true and hilarious!!! My twins are almost 3. This made me laugh (really hard!) and cry.

The cookies thing, yea, for me it’s M&Ms. There’s always a bag in our pantry for the kiddos, but I go in for fistfulls of them while they’re napping.

My mom died 5 weeks before my boys were born and I show them pictures of her and we talk about her, but I’m dreading actually explaining the whole thing. It just sucks.

Thanks for the awesome hilarious post! You’ve gained a new reader!

Isabel Lechuga 3 years ago

My tastes got a bit more exotic i.e. Taco Bell hahaha great read!

lesbomom 3 years ago


Effing, Billy!!!

I love how the cute and sweet is mixed in with the fun and sarcasm!!!

Nicole Channell 3 years ago

This was awesome. Loved the TV remark. That is why I tell my hubby that you never EVER take TV away as a punishment (at least not until the kids are older). Is he insane:)

Kir 3 years ago

I’m so glad that I came over here to read this, it made me so teary and glad that there are other parents out there wondering about college, appreciating the Oscar worthy performances of tantrum and generally being taken in by people that are 4 ft tall.

it’s so nice to meet you, I am now following your blog, your twitter etc. :)

Tanya 3 years ago

I love number one! “kids lets have a movie day, I’ll even make popcorn” haha its gets them everytime :)

Shilpa 3 years ago

This is the awesomest daddy diary ever! I was crying and laughing through it!

Falon 3 years ago

#2 made me laugh out loud. I LOVE shoveling candy, chocolate, and spoonfuls of peanut butter in my face when my kids aren’t looking. Makes me feel like a stealthy candy agent.

    Scarlet 3 years ago

    I hide my secret stash behind the baking stuff (flour, oil, etc.) because I’m the only one who cooks and none of them will ever think to look there. Also, an upright freezer is a great place to hide Thin Mints. Sorry, son, we lock that up for “your safety”.

Amber 3 years ago

Beautiful! Thanks to you I’m now crying in the carpool line 😉

Jamie 3 years ago

What a brilliant take on parenting from a SAHDs point of view. Very funny and sweet, and joyful, and sad when talking about your father. This was a nice read, thank you.

Corey Feldman 3 years ago

Lovely post. We lie all the time. Sometimes we have to because the aren’t ready for the truth. Yes, those boulders that line our synagogue are for decoration and for you and your brother to climb on…

Momchalant 3 years ago

TRUTH. Tv is a reward for the parents. Even though it’s always Spongebob at my house, I always find the humor in it, and get to sit back and relax on the couch while my son shoves his face in the tv. And I’m right there with you on the cookies!

AdroKing 3 years ago

Really Great.
#6. Made me cry like a baby.
That’s it.

Anne-Marie 3 years ago

Awesome! Esp the part about the chocolate chip cookies and Grandpa :*)

Catina 3 years ago

I love the lie we tell about watching TV! And of course paying for their education! I just pray my kids stay in Europe where its much cheaper. Great post!

Arnebya 3 years ago

Oh, #1. HELL YES. But then #4? FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. A coworker remarked recently that she was going to contribute to a 529 plan to start saving for her daughter’s college expenses. Um, no can do. You have to have money to put aside, don’t you? Well, all my money’s tied up in assholes who keep expecting me to pay for things like lights and heat. Also, there’s a hole in your tights that I am so not telling you about. And #8. Yup. That’s why I refuse to bitch about the eating and hate people to tell me I should “make them” eat all their food. Until you’ve had your mother record herself telling you to eat, and until she’s set a tape recorder on the table to play the recording of herself telling you to eat, and until you’ve sat at that table until it’s past bedtime and you’re asleep with two of your plaits in the mashed potatoes you didn’t eat? Until then, you don’t know shit about “making them.”

    Scarlet 3 years ago

    I loved pancakes at home, but HATED them when we were camping. Exact same griddle and everything! After my mom made me sit there for two hours, she knew I was dedicated to the cause and never again tried to force me to eat. In retrospect, I can’t blame her for trying it. If my kids had pulled that crap I’d probably have gone batshit crazy. To this day I have no idea why I hated those pancakes.

      Christine 9 months ago

      you didn’t hate the pancakes, you liked having the power to control something in your little life.

Gracenikki 3 years ago

Wow, I could have written this. You are awesome-if you ever need a bff aside from your lovelies, I’d gladly volunteer 😉 Also, number 2 made me laugh so hard I snorted with coffee in my mouth. It’s like you were peeking into my kitchen window yesterday at naptime.

Debbie 3 years ago

Good list here. yes, we do lie to our kids, but it is for there benfit! I think.
When mine were little they had a cupboard in the kitchen they could always play in. As they got older and I didn’t think they really need to play in the cupboard anymore I told them I found a big spider in it, but couldn’t catch it. They stopped playing in the cupboard.

Yes, parents do lie, when all else fails.

Sara 3 years ago

I LOVE this!!!! It is all so true! I am constantly trying to hide from my 2 year old while I sneak some much needed chocolate. I swear he smells it on my breath and then he wants some of whatever I just had in my mouth.

Mama Melch 3 years ago

I so WISH #7 was still true for my kids. Sadly, our 4 year old is already really good at using them all in the appropriate situations, which makes us laugh, and makes our job even harder.

What a beautiful post from a Scary Dad! My husband also cherished his year of SAHD-dom!

Grown and Flown 3 years ago

As many times as I tell you that I want you to grow up and have your own life and become an independent adult…I am lying.

Mary 3 years ago

That was really sweet and very true. Almost all of it applies to being a mom also.
I cried at the Grandpa part having lost my dad. One DD remembers him but the other one was too young.

    Vickie 3 years ago

    My son is named after my father, my dad died 5 years before my son was born. It is painful, but kids accept it much like they accept the notion of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I know my father, who never had any boys of his own, would have ADORED having a grandson and having two beautiful little granddaughters to dote on would have been right up his alley. My mother died when my son was 13 and my daughter was 10, they have memories of her, which I am grateful of, the loss of a parent strikes at what it is to be a child, and fills the parent part of me with terror. Mommies and Daddies should not be able to die when their children still think that they are superheroes. And my mom was my superhero still, I was still at the tender age of 36 and that is way too young to be orphaned.


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