Family Life

Secret Agent Girl


By Ann Bower Herren


My daughter—bless her pint-sized heart—and I have a little problem. Actually, she would say it’s strictly MY problem, and she’d be right. I believe that answering a direct question is akin to breathing; you just do it. She, on the other hand, is a believer in sharing information on a strictly ‘need to know basis’—and so far, no one has passed that clearance level.


She isn’t hiding anything. I know, because she is four. What was her snack today at school? Silence. Who did you play with during outdoor time? Nothing. I could ask her “Did you wake up this morning?” and she would go mum.


The irony in all this is she is the loudest child you’ll ever meet. She utters the word ‘mommy’ no less than 347 times a day. If she can’t think of something to say to fill a momentary silence, she will just make noise. This is an actual conversation that happened today: “Mommy mommy mommy mommy!!! “WHAT is so important?!” “Uhm. Mommy. I’m going into the other room now.” Seriously, it happened.


Yet, if I ask her about her day, it’s a whole different story. I am met with silence. Every. Time. I’ve tried different techniques; the open-ended inquiry (so tell me about your day?), the close-ended question (did your teacher speak today?). I’ve asked on the way home from school. I’ve held off and asked a week later. I’ve asked when she’s going potty. I’ve asked as she drifts off to sleep. I’ve asked like I didn’t care… “Look at that bird, howwasschooltoday?” And I’ve threatened her. “Tell me at least one thing that happened in school today or [insert something terrible here].” She won’t budge. I get nothing. I can’t even begin to explain the nothingness of her nothing. Stephen Hawking has built an entire theory of black holes around her expanse of emptiness on the subject.


So I’ve developed my own ‘work-around.’ I know which kids in her class give up the goods and I just go straight to them and ask how her day was.


My next step is career day. I will put her hair in a professional ponytail, put on her best Hello Kitty top and leggings, trot her down to the CIA home office, and thrust her at them. Here. My gift to the nation: The world’s Best Secret Agent. I guarantee: SHE WILL NEVER EVER SPILL THE BEANS.


Until then, her snack will be her secret, and I’ll be working on getting a higher clearance approved.


Newsletter Signup

Your Weekly guide to New Orleans family fun. NOLA Family has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up