With my family, I have to really probe to get the facts. Sometimes I need a shovel; other times I head straight for the hydraulic excavator.
Several summers ago, my husband took our son fishing. "Just you and me, Steve," he said to our 12-year-old son. "Rocky from work found a great place to fish and gave me a map."
I wasn't invited.
For the next few weeks, Sam and Steve prepared. They bought a tent, cooking supplies, fishing rods, and tackle. They pretended to cast their lines into an imaginary lake in our living room.
Then they started joking. "What do you do if you see a bear?" Sam asked Steve.
"Stop, drop, and roll, Dad?"
They both laughed hysterically when Sam answered, "Nope, that's if you catch fire from roasting marshmallows."
"That's not funny!" I said.
"You're such a mom," they said in unison.
Camping day arrived, and they left. Two days later, they returned with tales of sharks that got away and bears they scared by singing sitcom theme songs in two-part harmony. They had no fish.
However, the real adventure couldn't be kept a secret.
While sitting in the family room, I saw our cat backing away from something on the carpet. In Arizona, large, poisonous things occasionally come indoors to escape the heat.
Steve noticed. "Hey, Dad, is that as big as the scorpion that stung me when we went fishing?" He immediately put his hand to his mouth.
"You were stung by a scorpion?" I asked.
"It was a small scorpion, Mom," Steve said. "It didn't hurt bad after soaking it in the lake.
"All you did was soak it?"
"Don't get mad, Mom. It was my fault. I didn't shake out my sneakers after they dried when I fell in the lake."
"Fell in the lake?"
"Not fell exactly. I was backing up from a snake and kind of wound up in the lake."
"A small snake, Mom. Not big like the one we saw that night."
"That's why we slept in the Jeep."
"Slept in the Jeep?"
"Well, we didn't actually sleep. It was too hot."
"Even with the top down?"
"We put the top back up and closed the windows."
"I'm afraid to ask," I said.
"Bats. Thousands of bats."
"At least it wasn't a mountain lion, Mom!" Steve was teasing me now, a carbon copy of Sam. "You were right about how she'd react, Dad. She's such a...."
I finished the sentence. "I know. I'm 'such a mom.' "