Hiding Works if You Can Hide Forever

Civility in the wild

My son Jack (9 years old) was slumpt on the sofa with his arms folded when it was time to go to school. He was wearing a sad face.

“Jack, what’s wrong?”


“What else is wrong?”

“I didn’t do my homework last night, I forgot and there’s no time to do it this morning.”

“Yeah. That’s true, it’s time to go. Do you want to know an important secret to life?”

“Sure, I guess.”

“If you have something that’s due, or owe someone money or someone is expecting something from you but you can’t give it to them you have three options.

1. Play dumb. Act like you didn’t know it was due. The problem with this approach is that you actually look dumb. It’s a dumb plan because you aren’t dumb you know the score and so does the person you are lying to. If  they ever find out that you’re lying everyone feels dumb. It’s not my suggested approach to a solution.

2. Hide from that person. It’s easy as long as you can hide from them. I can’t hide from Sam or my kids. But I can hide from almost anyone else. The problem with hiding is that it’s exhausting and ridiculous and cowardly. BTW never, ever hide from the IRS.

2. Tell the person that you couldn’t do it in time but it’s your intention to do it. If they believe that your intention is to deliver the work, assignment or money, most people are reasonable and will help you any way that they can. You’ll feel good because you are on your way to a solution and it’s half over already.”

As I was explaining these options to Jack I remembered some of the times I’ve played dumb and/or hidden from my problems. It’s hard to stand there neck-deep in hypocrisy. But being a parent is complicated.  He listened and eventually relaxed.

Later that day he said that his teacher told him that it happens to everyone once in a while. He could just turn it in tomorrow.


  1. Great story, Jon. We’ve all played dumb from time to time. It’s not hypocritical to point out that it is a losing strategy — is shows you’ve learned better.

  2. I agree. Do as I say, not as I do is fine. As long as you don’t add “It’s what always do” at the end of the best option.

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