As I sat down on one of the six mahogany wood chairs surrounding my dinner table, I was innocently oblivious that, on this particular Tuesday night in July of 2017, my ordinary dining room would turn into a courtroom, my chair would become the witness stand, and my parents would become judges. Although I knew that at anytime this wild phenomenon could occur, as my mother is a lawyer and my father is a judge, I just hoped today would not be the day. Though these occasions catch me by surprise, I am always ready to defend myself at a moment's notice.
I smiled after Paul made a joke about my dad’s bald head glistening from the dining room light, but I could tell from my dad’s furrowed eyebrows that he was not in the mood for jokes. My smirk wiped straight off my face when I heard him say in his deep, stern voice, “Who didn’t walk Pepper? She pooped all over the living room.”
Those terrifying words could mean the termination of a weekend night, or even worse, depending on if you are a repeat offender, a possible week or more of grounding. A few times prior I had to witness this so called “death penalty,” as my brother, Paul, was caught lying and sentenced to two weeks of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is my favorite punishment for my siblings because it gives me the opportunity to finally have something they don’t. I live for the moments when I can do something my siblings cannot, like hanging out with friends, while they can “only” watch T.V., eat whatever food they want, and use their phones. It “really” sucks.
After attending various groundment sentences, I have learned that, in these crucial moments, the key is to stay calm and not give away any signs of guiltiness. Normally I love these almost daily mock trials, when I am not a suspect of course, but today I was the one who could not give away any signs of deceit. One would believe that a lawyer’s and judge’s son would be very truthful, but I have practiced for this moment countless times, deny, deny, deny. Not only did I not want to spend an entire weekend alone in my house, but I wanted to feel as though I outsmarted my parents at their own game.
I had to come out clean. After all of my siblings had stated that they had walked Pepper, it all came down to me. Lie or die. As my mother, Terry, turned to me, still in her black pantsuit from work, and disciplinarily asked me if I had walked her, I calmly responded with small amounts of perspiration running down my face, “I walked her at 2:00.”
“Did you really,” said both my mom and dad in unison as they had said so many times before.
I returned, “Yes, yes I did.”
Those simple yet effective words forced my parents to call a mistrial, as they did not have enough evidence against me to sentence me to a weekend’s worth of grounding. A solid victory in my books. Even though this case went in my favor, not all turn out the same. Because my parents make a living off of determining one’s gultiness, one can guess, that, on most occasions, I am rightfully accused and, although I try to finagle my way out of it, I end up stuck on the bottom half of my brother and my bunk bed thinking about how much fun I could be having with my friends on such a beautiful weekend night. In those times, I constantly remind myself how much I loathe these disputes, and wonder how I could possibly look forward to dinner mock trials. But, I live for the rare occasions when I come out victorious.
After taking in punishments and adapting to these arguments, I have obtained a few obvious personality traits from these daily dinner disputes: my competitiveness is showcased in wanting to outwit my parents; my tenaciousness roots from my “lawyer gene;” and my love of arguing for the sake of arguing is an obvious result of these almost daily conflicts. After experiencing so many arguments, I have learned that a simple lie can change reality.
Although I may not like to admit it to anyone else, I know that I’m a liar. Even though lying has such a negative connotation surrounding it, I like to appreciate the perks of being a master of deception. One miniscule lie could change reality, like getting my siblings in trouble for “hitting” me. To me, lying is as addicting as gambling. The easy accessibility to control of a situation that lying provides is why I think I subconsciously became a liar. Although I am a self-aware liar, I love a good, truthful argument. I like to think of myself as the offspring of a lawyer’s defensive awareness stuck trying to survive as the youngest of four in a battle for my parents’ attention, so I was essentially born to argue. And goddamnit I will make sure to make the most of my fate. Even though I love a good argument, I hate having my blood on the line, especially because I usually end up losing, but I suppose that you need to lose some battles in order to cherish the victories. In my opinion, everyone should partake in arguments. I figure that it’s better to defend yourself than just give in to what your opponent wants. Because even if you are 1-10 in those arguments, that one victory might just save your skin. But even more important than saving yourself from punishment, you shouldn’t just conform to what everyone else wants you to do. And besides, following orders is overrated.