My four-year-old daughter, Sarah, once called my dad to inform him I was an alcoholic.

I had to dial the phone for her.

Of course, when she asked me to dial Dad she did not reveal her motive. It wasn’t until I heard the conversation that I realized I was being ratted out. It went something like this:



“Yes, Honey?”

“Your son is an alcoholic.”

“He is?”

“Yes! He drank beer!”

“How many beers did he drink?”


Turns out the previous day her teacher taught a class on the perils of addiction, alcohol being one of them. I am not sure why a pre-school teacher thought alcoholism was an appropriate topic for that age. Maybe some of the three-year-olds were spiking the juice boxes. Who knows?

Sarah had never seen me drink a beer, because I rarely, if ever do. On that day, I found a beer in the back of the fridge that was left over from a family thing we hosted a few months before. On a whim, I opened it and drank it.

She spotted me and the incident was reported. My father assured her he would talk to me about the dangers of alcohol.

What tickles me is she was telling on me to my parents. That’s what a tattle tale does – she tells your parents. It also didn’t escape my notice that I was referred to as “your son,” not “”my father.”

A few years later, Sarah informed on her mother about her love affair with another man. She dropped the bomb at her First Grade show and tell. We learned about it at a parent\teacher conference.

“We heard about you and Russell Crowe,” her teacher said to Marianne.

“Russell Crowe?”

“From Gladiator,” she said. “The movie. Apparently, you and you’re sisters were quite taken with him.” She grinned. “The exact quote was ‘My mommy loves a man named Russell Crowe.'”

Apparently, Mommy and her sisters went to see the movie without bothering to mention it to any of their husbands. Thank goodness the whole sordid affair was made public at the show and tell before a second movie outing could be arranged.

Both wife and teacher agreed Russell Crowe made a fetching gladiator and the matter was dropped.

Sarah finally did the unthinkable. She ratted her dear old dad out to Santa Claus.

She was on Santa’s lap. She had delivered her laundry list of wishes. There was no one in line, so he asked her, “Now what does Daddy want for Christmas?”

Her reaction shocked both of us. She started crying. Between sobs, she informed us “Mommy says Daddy doesn’t get any presents from Santa because he uses bad words.”

“That’s a *#&@! lie,” I hollered.

Okay. I didn’t really holler that. But Santa did have to promise not to leave anything for me under the tree in order to calm my informant down.

I was then interrogated by the Jolly Old Elf. When it was over, he pronounced sentence. I had to promise never to use bad words again, or I could forget ever getting another present from him.

Twenty plus years later and every year nothing under the tree. Somehow, I feel I am being ratted out.