Recently I posted about the importance of communication within a marriage when it comes to maintaining marital harmony and avoiding unpleasant misunderstandings.
Today I’m going to talk about the importance of misunderstandings.
Tricking your kids.
I am speaking, of course, about communicating to your spouse about sensitive topics when your kids are about and, as is in their nature, eavesdropping.
Because let’s face it, if you ask your spouse if you should take the kiddos to Dairy Queen within said kiddos’ earshot, they’re gonna start bellowing about how you all need to get out of the house quickly because it’s going to explode in five minutes.
I learned this the hard way. And believe me, once a kiddo has latched onto a strategy like this, he or she is not likely to let go of it. Even if the five minutes pass without explosion.
I have no doubt, if the kiddos are old enough, that they might even rig a device to blow up the house to add authenticity to their pleas to flee to Dairy Queen.
Such is the juvenile’s love of frozen milk products.
Sure, there’s the old standby of spelling out key words (“Honey, why don’t you get the kids’ B-O-T-T-L-E-S ready?” “Me? Why don’t you, you N-A-G-G-I-N-G H-A-R-P-Y? I’m nearly P-A-S-S-E-D O-U-T D-R-U-N-K from dealing with the little S-H-*-Ts all day long.”)
This works fine until:
a) your children attain literacy (encryption skills equivalent to yours),
b) your spouse clubs you to death with a full bottle (and frankly, you deserved it, you I-N-S-E-N-S-I-T-I-V-E B-A-S-T-A-R-D),
c) your kiddos, much like dogs, learn to associate specific sounds with end results (traffic analysis), or
d) your spouse is too tired / frazzled to figure out what the F-*-C-K you’re trying to spell (decryption fatigue)
Which is when you must upgrade your encryption techniques.
There are many options, the list below representing a miniscule subset:
Speak a foreign language the kiddos don’t know. Esperanto is an excellent choice – I’ve never met a person under fifteen who speaks it – but you can still fall victim to traffic analysis. And with the advent of the internet and Google Talk, brighter children will quickly crack this code.
Semaphore. This requires carrying flags around at all times, which can be inconvenient, and communication via this method can be dangerous in certain circumstances (e.g., while driving on a freeway – doubly so if you’re driving a convertible with the top down). But it is so inherently uncool that there is zero chance of your kids ever bothering to learn it.
Book as the decryption key. This is the technique where you list a page number, then a line number, then a letter number to tell the recipient how to find each letter of your message. This is uncrackable if your kids don’t know what book you’re using, but has two drawbacks: both of you need to have a copy of the book (don’t use Moby Dick or War and Peace – I speak from back-breaking experience), and messages tend to take a very long time to both encrypt and decrypt.
More so if the recipient can’t find her reading glasses. Again.
Association. This is the best method, and the one I recommend you use. You rely on pop culture references that only your generation would get, and you get additional encryption strength if you and your spouse know each other really, really well and can use associations that, to outsiders, have no apparent meaning at all (I call this the “Invincible-at-Charades Couple Effect”).
Here’s an example of the association encryption technique. Let’s say you want to ask your spouse if you should take the kiddos to Dairy Queen, a fast food restaurant that is known to your kiddos to serve delicious frozen confections.
If you say, “Honey, do you want to take the kiddos to Dairy Queen for ice cream?” your kids will immediately start building a bomb to get you out of the house pronto.
Now, if instead you say, “Honey, do you want to take the kiddos to moo we are the champions?” your kids will look up momentarily, worry you’ve had a stroke or something, and then go back to playing with their Play-Doh Plastic Explosives set, now with Lego detonators.
Your spouse, on the other hand, will go, “Oh! Good one! Wait a second. You are asking if we should take the kids to Dairy Queen, right?”
At which point, the kiddos start running around screaming “KA-BOOM!” and you need to have the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” conversation with your spouse.
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