The other afternoon I was sitting in our library reading a book, because it has a direct line to my 3-year-old twins’ room, and they’re not traditionally great nappers.
I guess they didn’t know I was watching, because one of them was hanging from his top bunk like a monkey, trying to swing into his brother’s bottom bunk. The other was laughing hysterically.
“Get back in your bed,” I said, startling him so much he lost his grip and crashed to the floor.
“You scared me,” he shouted as he was climbing back up the steps to his bed.
I didn’t feel sorry for him, though, because how many times have I told him not to hang off the side of the bed like that? At least twenty billion.
There is something I’ve noticed about my boys. When they think they can get away with something – not because they’ve gotten away with it before, ever, but because they think someone’s just not paying attention – they will do it.
It’s easy to understand in a house with so many kids, but there’s something they haven’t quite figured out.
This mom sees and knows everything.
So, in the interest of helping them out with this hard-to-understand mystery, I’ve compiled an easy-to-read list of everything a mom knows.
1. I know what you’re doing, even if I can’t see you.
Call it eyes on the back of my head, call it intuition, call it whatever you want. I know. I know that when you go to the bathroom, you are probably going to play with the plunger because you’ve done it six thousand times before. I know that when you go upstairs (and I know when you do), you will head straight for Daddy’s forbidden computer and that your inexperienced fingers will close out PhotoShop, along with the latest project your daddy forgot to save, on your way to Cool Math.
I know that when you think you’ve escaped unnoticed from the house, you will immediately run toward the neighbor’s rock path you’ve been told not to touch. I know that when you disappear into the pantry you are looking for the raisins, because they’re still scattered on the floor from the last time you tried, unsuccessfully, to sneak a snack.
I know that if you beat me to the library by half a second, there will already be 50 books on the floor that you’ll try to hide by shoving them under the couch.
2. I know you don’t think I’m paying attention, but I am. Always.
When that phone call comes through and you think my attention is split, you should know that I’m still paying attention.
I know what you’re doing on the stairs because I can hear the footfalls leading up to the baby gate you’ll dismantle in three seconds. I know the sound of the closet door opening means you think you can sneak Battleship from its hiding place and dump out those red and white pieces without getting caught.
I know that because it seems like I’m paying full attention to the phone conversation and not at all to you, you will try to get a cup out of the dishwasher and fill it with water you’ll spill three steps from the water dispenser, even though I gave you milk in your Thermos 60 seconds ago.
3. I know as soon as I leave the room, you will think about doing what you’ve been told not to do.
I know that if I go upstairs to get your baby brother, you will try to take the lid off that LEGO container Daddy left on the counter so you can dump the pieces into a land mine before I get back (and if you can’t get the lid off, you will destroy the container).
I know that as soon as I go to the bathroom, you will climb onto the table and steal that crayon you wanted from your brother. I know that as soon as I disappear to put your baby brother down for a nap, you will open the refrigerator and try to stuff as many grapes as you can get into your mouth before I get back.
I know what’s in your mouth and the toy you snuck into nap time and the thing you’re thinking about right this minute.
4. I know quiet doesn’t always (ever) mean good.
I know that sometimes it means you’re coloring your carpet red with a crayon you found hidden in the cushions of the couch. I know it means you have unraveled the whole roll of eco-friendly paper towels because you wanted to make a paper bag for your cars. I know it means you’re probably trying to fit into a shirt for a 6-month-old, even though you’re 3. Your quiet isn’t fooling me at all.
I know all of this mostly because …
5. I know you.
I know your adventurous spirit that catapults you out the door and halfway down the road before your daddy and I can even get out of the kitchen. I know your creativity that turns a door into a canvas. I know your curiosity that puts a cup with a car submerged in water into the freezer to see what happens.
I know your playful nature that sees everything – a plunger, a roll of paper towels, butter knives – like they’re new toys. I know how hard it is to tame the strong will that sees a challenge in every “don’t-do-it.”
I know you, all the wild and all the crazy and all the most beautiful pieces, too.
And guess what? I love it all.
But next time you decide to see what happens when you put a balloon in the toilet and try to pee on it, just remember, you will be caught. I promise.
A mom always knows.
So don’t even think about it.
This article was originally published on