Moms Were the First Private Investigators
By Connie Cavanaugh -
If every empty-nest mom went to work as a private investigator, it would solve the “What now?” question as well as put a lid squarely on crime. No one is better qualified for detective work than a woman who has raised a vanload of kids.
Case in Point: Our 17-year-old son JP slouched in to the kitchen and sat down. Glancing up furtively then lowering his gaze, he began, “Uh, I have, uh, something to, uh, tell you.”
I stated coolly: “You hit a tree with dad’s car.”
His head snapped up, eyes bugged out, mouth went slack. “Who told you?”
PIs never reveal their sources. I smiled. An email from the mom of one of JP’s friends had arrived earlier. JP’s friend mentioned the accident to his older brother who immediately squealed. The friend’s mom was my prayer partner. Bingo!
I handed my son a Ziploc bag that held the bit of tree bark I had extracted from the dented headlight’s rim with tweezers moments earlier.
“You’re good,” he said shaking his head in admiration.
Case in Point: On her 19th birthday our oldest daughter decided “to be a bit rebellious.” Christine secretly acquired a navel ring. She had queried me some months earlier: “If God wanted us to wear bellybutton rings he would have put earlobes on our abdomens!” She never raised the topic again.
After getting the ring, she wore long shirts and avoided me. If I saw her at all, it was her back. I quickly diagnosed her strange behavior. But I waited, knowing she’d eventually crack. A week passed and she found me in the kitchen – the confessional in our home.
“Um, mom. I, um, need to, well I want to, I mean I should probably let you know,” Christine began, her head lowered.
I cut to the chase.
“You got your bellybutton pierced.”
“How did you know?” she shrieked. “Did Anita tell you?”
“Your sister never said boo. I have a certain je ne sais qua,” I blithely replied.
“Wow,” she whispered reverently.
The truth was, I peeked one night after she was asleep. Gotcha!
Case in Point: But the easiest detective work I ever did involved our middle child. During her first year of university in a nearby city, she lived at home and carpooled to classes. Occasionally she borrowed my car. On one of those days, she asked if she could stay in the city for the evening to hang out with a chum. I was a bit nervous when she mentioned which friend. I knew this cowgirl liked to frequent a certain western-theme dance club in the city and I didn’t want Anita going there. She assured me she wouldn’t go near the place and she’d be home by 11 p.m.
As promised, she came home on time and after a short visit with her dad and me, went to bed. The next day when I went out to my car, I saw a small piece of paper under the windshield wiper. It was a parking ticket. From the parking lot of the club I had asked her not to attend. Exhibit A!
“I gotta hand it to you Mom,” Anita croaked.
I can’t take all the credit for this fine detective work. I owe something to my mother who passed on to me the prayer she prayed – with great success – for her eight children from the time they were tiny: “Lord, I don’t expect my kids to be perfect, but I do ask that when they’re not, You help me catch them!” Amen!