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contributing to the delinquency of minors

The things you don't know about your kids.

Last night was a wonderful oportunity for Scrimger spotters. We were at my parents' place for the seasonal family gathering -- even rarely sighted aunts and cousins from far-flung places like North Toronto and Pickering (Can't you feel the romance in those place names? Glen Manor Road. Pleasant Boulevard. Altoona Drive. Can't you smell the spicey off-shore breezes, and catch a mind's-eye glimpse of bright colour against the verdant tropical backdrop. Ah, for my seven league boots!) Anyway, we were all there, clustered around the festive boardgame eating hors d'oeuvres that would harden the supplest artery, when I heard a quiet popping sound from the next room, and champagne flutes began to make their appearance, two by two in the children's hands. Each of the adults got a glass, and we toasted the season in a charming and traditional way.

I'm not fond of champagne. Not even good champagne, which this was. (Sorry, Dad, if you are reading this. I know champagne is appropriate and festive and all. I just don't like it. As I am about to tell you, there are things you don't know about your kids, and this is something you now know about me.) As an indifferent champagne appreciater, I was happy to share my glass of bubbly. Have a sip, I said to Thea, who hesitated, and then took a cautious mouthful. I watched my mom share her glass with my kids too, and my aunt (the North Toronto one) share her glass, and my sister-in-law (the Pickering one) share her glass ... and I began to realize that my kids were getting a whole lot of champagne.

Imo turned to me, her eyes wide. This stuff is good! she said. She was holding a glass now -- I don't know who had given it to her. Glad you like it, I said. Can I have another sip? asked Ed. My glass was still half full. I gave it over. My dad gazed benevolently around the room -- the noise level had risen by a couple dozen decibels in the past ten minutes -- and wondered aloud if we needed more champagne. There was a semi-drunken cheer from my teens. Glasses were raised. It had only taken a few minutes, but the family gathering had begun to take on the atmosphere of a pub brawl. I was waiting for someone began a drinking song, or to start smashing furniture over someone else's head. Hmmm, said Dad.

The secret life of kids. Mine like champagne. Who'd have guessed? Not me. I wasn't going to serve it at Christmas dinner, but I'm almost tempted now....

Nah. On second thought, maybe I'll introduce them to red wine. If they like it, we can all enjoy. If they don't, all the more for me.


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