I wish I could have been there when the mom realizes everything that went on behind her back. These stories range from heartfelt to heartbreaking to hysterical, but all of their wild twists will forever stay in these family members' minds. At least for the dad and his kids. Content has been edited for clarity.
Sketchy Sports Evening They’ll Never Forget!
“When my oldest son was 8 I flew him out to New York City for a long weekend with me. Just him and I. I travel there a lot for work, but this is the first trip I brought anyone along with me. We decide to stay near Times Square, so we can hit the entire city easily. On our first night, we land mid-afternoon and check into the hotel. We decide to go for a walk and just check things out. After a while we decide it’d be great to catch the NBA finals at a bar. Not wanting to take him into a sketchy unknown bar, we hit up Buffalo Wild Wings near Times Square, a known favorite of ours at home. The game was Golden State vs Cleveland and was a West Coast game, so it was already late. There we were. A grown adult with his 8-year-old son, eating wings and drinking. Me IPA’s, him a soda. It was probably 10 p.m. when we sat down, and the bar was hopping!
I’m slamming the drinks, man they tasted great, and we cheered on the Cavaliers because we’re tired of Golden State and their run. Like I said, the bar was packed and people were loud. Like every shot counted and people were losing their minds. Suddenly, we realize there was another father and son duo sitting right next to us. His son was also 8, but cheering for the Warriors. They had flown in that day too from California and came to the bar to watch the game. For the rest of the game, we went back and forth buying drinks, smack talking, laughing, and totally bro’ing out. It was magical. A night I will never forget. So the game finally ends late, like around 1 a.m. Here we are in New York City for his first time, walking through Times Square at 1:30 a.m. He’s 8. I turn to him and say with all seriousness, ‘Buddy, this was one of my favorite nights ever as a Dad, and I live for these moments with you. But don’t ever tell your mom I took you to a bar in NYC to watch a basketball game until 1 a.m. and then walked you through Times Square afterwards.’
We had a moment and it felt awesome. We connected on a level that I hope lasts a lifetime. To this day (he’s 11), we laugh about this and keep it in an inside joke. Mom doesn’t know, but at this point I think she’d be fine with it. It’s just more about something only he and I share. Man I love being a dad!”
Fighting Off Bears For This Punk
“One time when I was younger, my dad took me to the zoo while my mom was visiting with my grandparents (so her parents). I had a nasty habit of climbing on anything that looked like it could support a kid’s weight: the living room couches and entertainment center, trees, cars, the roof of our house, etc. How I never got hurt was either a miracle or sheer dumb luck depending on who you ask. Anyway, I was up to my usual nonsense when we were at the zoo, walking along the retaining walls of the animal enclosures, and this was well before rational reasoning skills set in and I could have known that these were dangerous animals that would have killed my 7-year-old self without even thinking about it. To me, they were just the cool animals I saw on the Discovery Channel or in cartoons. Naturally it was only a matter of time before I fell into an animal enclosure and my dad looked back to see where I had wandered off to. Around that time, he hears some woman scream, ‘Oh my god, there’s a kid in the bear pit!’
At least he knew where I was. Much like the kid that fell in Harambe’s pit, I had fallen into a pit of water that I later learned was slightly separated from the bears, but bears being curious animals, they noticed my presence and decided to wander over to check me out. I remember being upset that I was all wet for about five seconds before starting to splash around and then seeing about two or three black bears slowly walking over to me and sniffing me out. Keep in mind that I lived (and still do live) in central Texas, so there are no bears around for miles. The idea of making yourself seem bigger or fighting back was about as foreign to my young brain as translating the Iliad from its original Greek at the time. Thankfully by this time, my dad had alerted the zoo staff. From what I was told when I got older, a couple of workers distracted the bears with food while another worker grabbed me and got me the heck out of there and back to my dad. From what I was told, a small crowd had gathered by this point, but thankfully this was before cellphones with cameras were a thing, so I didn’t get ripped on by my classmates whenever I went back to school for being a moron because they saw me online or whatever.
After my dad got a hold of me, dried me off, and read me the riot act, he bought me a bag of cotton candy I had asked for since we didn’t get to see the rest of the zoo that day. He told me he would only get me the cotton candy if I promised not to tell Mom about the ordeal. I agreed since I wanted the cotton candy, and I think he told my mom that I’d fallen into an artificial pond or something. Of course mom found out later anyway, but it’s something we all laugh about now since we all kinda share a quirky, sometimes dark sense of humor, so I don’t hold anything against him. It was my own fault after all!”
Unforgettable Piece of Evidence
“My Dad loves to tell this story now that I’m older. When I was a kid, my dad had this van, the type with just the two seats up front. We lived about a two-minute drive from my primary school, and dad used to let us ride there in the van, which my mum (reasonably) hated, as we were just tumbling around in there unsecured. One morning, my mum goes off shopping and Dad takes me to school in the van. There’s this metal bar that goes across behind the driver and passenger seats at about head height, and he tells me I can only ride in the back if I stand and hold on to the bar. I’m about 5 or 6 at the time, so the bar is roughly at chin level for me standing up in the back.
On the VERY short trip, something happens and my dad has to slam the brakes. I’m being good and standing in the back, holding the bar, but when he slams the brakes I also slam full force, face first in to the metal bar. Dad pulls over panicking, that he broke my nose and my mum is gonna kill him. He realizes that I’m okay, but just shaken up, so he spends a little time consoling me (and presumably also himself) and making sure I know never to tell mum about this, before we head back off to school. He drops me off. I’m cool. Crisis averted. Except that as the day goes on, I start to develop two very black eyes.
My teachers notice and pull me aside and ask me what happened. I remember my training from that morning, and I tell the teachers, ‘I’m not allowed to tell you.’
This obviously doesn’t sit right with the teachers, so they push for an answer, which causes little 5-year-old me to burst out in tears saying, ‘MY DADDY TOLD ME I CAN’T TELL ANYONE! HE SAID IT’S OUR SECRET!’
Cue my parents being called to the school and being very seriously questioned about whether they’re abusing this poor, bruised child. My dad had to explain the whole thing and long story short, my mum found out what happened and we were never allowed to ride in the back of the van again.”
The Sweetest Lie Possible
“My Dad called me 3 years ago. ‘Hey, I need you to help me and I need you to lie to your mother about it. She can always tell when I’m lying, so I need you to do it.’
I’m not sure what it says about me that my dad calls me as the go-to person for scamming my mom, but whatever. Anyways, my parents got married in a civil ceremony at Fort Bliss when they were super young. My mom always regretted that she didn’t get to have a real wedding. So for their 40th Anniversary, dad wanted to give her a surprise wedding that he had zero clue how to plan. This is where I come in because I know how to plan a wedding, and apparently I’m a sneaky child, which is not wrong
Dad arranges a venue. I task my brother with making bouquets and my sister with making a wedding cake (they have both done these things for weddings before). I invite secret guests, line up a photographer. and call my mom. ‘Hey mom, I want to get some formal dress-up family portraits done this summer. My girls are obsessed with ombre, so were going with shades of blue and lilac, each generation in a different color, as the theme (these are my mom’s favorite colors). Let’s go shopping!’
Meanwhile, my dad sneaks my mom’s engagement ring out of the house, which she wasn’t wearing because the stone was loose and she was afraid it would fall out. He took it to the jeweler, had the loose stone replaced with a bigger stone, and he had the original stones matched and reset to frame it. The day of the wedding, we all get dressed up and are posing for a photo when my dad goes down on one knee and proposes. She says yes, we all pile into the car, and they get married again in a little chapel where all our extended family is waiting to surprise her.”
Casually Saving Her Life Twice
“Years ago, when my daughter was 1 or 2, we were on a road trip. We stopped at McDonald’s, got food, and continued on. My daughter had never eaten french fries at that point. My wife gave her a small size bag of french fries to much on. She happily sat in her car seat, munching away. Suddenly my wife was in a panic, saying that our daughter was choking on french fries, which makes complete sense in hindsight. We should never have assumed she’d just know how to eat fries when she was still learning how to eat everything else. My wife leaped into the back seat. I assumed as an EMT she could handle it easily. What I didn’t anticipate was the panic. She shrieked and freaked out, and she couldn’t solve the problem.
So I pulled over. I got out of the driver’s seat, walked to the back seat door, opened it, and sat down next to my daughter. There were tears in her eyes, and she was looking at me for help. That kind of broke my heart. She knew she was in trouble. So, I handled it like I was unplugging the rain gutters. I literally tilted her head back, looked down her throat, saw a pile of fries, shoved my hand in, and pulled them free. She immediately began to breathe, and everything was fine. Except it wasn’t. My wife sat opposite of me, just staring at me in disbelief. For the next few hours of our road trip, I had to endure her lecturing me and ranting to me about how putting your fingers in someone’s throat will almost always shove the blockage deeper. I understood what she was saying was true. I also understood that I could literally see the potatoes in our daughter’s throat, and easily yanked them up. That’s the nice thing about fries, they’re long, like little handles perfect for grabbing. In the end, my daughter lived, so I was fine with what I did and happily endured the hours-long lecture afterward. None of this is the ‘don’t tell your mom’ story. But here it comes.
It was now a month or two (or three) after that incident. We were having dinner with friends. Our daughter sat in a high chair at one end of the table, with me to her side. Everyone else around the table was happily chatting. They were talking about board games and what we should play after dinner, and it was nice. I was not looking at my daughter. I was watching everyone else as we discussed games. In fact, no one was looking at my daughter. And then I felt her little hand on my arm. I looked over at her, and she had tears streaming down her face. Her mouth was open, no sound coming out.
I have to tell you how stunned I was when my little girl reached over, grabbed my hand, picked a finger, and put it into her throat. I had no idea that children could understand or even remember significant details like, ‘I was choking and my father used his hand to un-choke me’ at that age. I had cleared her throat literally over a month prior. I didn’t think kids had any ‘object permanence’ or memory like that. But I was wrong, at least in this case. Maybe trauma burned the memory into her mind. I don’t know.
In any case, I looked at her with my hand in her mouth and realized she was in trouble again. I tilted her head back, looked down her throat, and saw an almost completely solid mini-muffin or something like that. It wasn’t even that far down. I looked over at my wife, because I was about to do something that would infuriate her. She was happily chatting about games, still. She wasn’t looking. I plunged my fingers down my daughter’s throat, pulled out the muffin, and then once she was breathing again I whispered to her, ‘We never tell your mom about this.’
I gave her a kiss and held her hand for a little while as everyone else debated whether to play Rummikub or Ligretto. No one even looked. No one saw.”
Dad Caught Red-Handed
“My parents have always been huge exercise buffs, so there was never soda in the house when I was a kid growing up. Unfortunately, my dad had a drinking problem when I was younger, and he would sometimes find ways to hide drinks from my mother. One day, to my absolute shock, there was a bottle of 7up in the basement fridge. Looking back on it now, just one bottle was pretty odd, but it being there at all was shocking enough for me. So I go into the living room where my dad has company, and I ask him if I can have some 7up. He’s actually confused himself, but tells me, ‘If you can find some!’
Cool! I go back to the fridge, grab the bottle, and take a drink. After just a little sip, I stopped. It didn’t taste what I remember 7up tasting like. After some hesitation, I took another sip, just to see if I somehow, I don’t know, tasted it wrong I guess? It tasted just as bad, so I put it back in the fridge.
I went back to my dad, and told him that something was wrong with the 7up. Now he’s suspicious. ‘What 7up!?’ he asked, as he got up and made his way over to the fridge. He opened the fridge, and to his surprise, saw a 7up bottle sitting there. He grabbed it, opened it up, and smelled it. His eyes widened, as he told me, ‘Don’t tell your mother about this.’
While I didn’t know the taste at the time, I now know it to be an IPA. Turned out he went to the bar, ordered IPAs and a bottle of soda, dumped the soda, and ordered another IPA for the road, but he asked them to put it into the soda bottle for him (he knew all the bartenders). This was so my mom wouldn’t see the IPAs in the fridge, and the soda, though unhealthy, could be explained much easier. He forgot that they filled the bottle with this stuff, and he also forgot what soda bottle he got (he doesn’t drink soda), until I drank some of it. Oops!”
The Ride Of Her Life
“I was driving my 7-year-old daughter in a large dune buggy against my wife’s wishes. During the ride, I flipped it and we rolled over. My daughter was safely strapped in luckily, however, the buckle came loose on my seatbelt and my leg was wedged between the roll cage and steering wheel. It seriously hurt as I was thrown out. I quickly limped back to the buggy and checked on my daughter, as she was hanging by the seatbelt. She was not only ok, she was ecstatic and wanted to, ‘DO IT AGAIN!’
I pushed it over and got us going again. On the slow ride back to the house, I had a gentle discussion with her about how we didn’t need to share any of what happened with Mom, while I was trying to figure out how I could disguise the obvious limp I would have for weeks, since I was definitely injured beyond something minor. As we rounded a corner of the house and slowed down a little, she leaps out of the still moving dune buggy and starts running towards Mom screaming, ‘YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED!’
At least I didn’t have to try and hide the limp, although I couldn’t complain about the pain because my wife has a motto for our family, ‘No sympathy for stupid.’
It took six months to heal completely and I never got to complain once. Also, I learned to never share any secrets with that particular daughter again. That adorable little punk would turn on me in the blink of an eye.”
Dad Of The Year Award Goes To…
“My dad was a scruffy bachelor type, and he and my mom separated when I was two. I’d spend weekdays with mom and weekends at dads for most of my childhood. They made it work and were outstanding co-parents in spite of their myriad differences.
One day when I was about 8 or 9, Dad was scratching his head, trying to figure out what to feed me. My dad discovered a dusty box of Kraft Mac and Cheese, which he immediately cooked up. I took a bite and immediately noticed something was off. I told my dad that it tasted funny, and he took a look at the box and discovered it was a whopping six YEARS past its expiration date. Of course, we had something else, probably takeout, and he told me not to tell my mother. What’s the first thing you think I exclaimed as soon as I walked in the door to mom’s place? ‘MOMMY, GUESS WHAT DAD FED ME!’
The next weekend, Mom showed up at his apartment and threw out everything in his pantry. It was taken in good humor by everyone involved, and it’s one of my favorite stories from growing up.”
Years Of Secret Memories
“When l was twelve or so, I walked into my dad’s office to find him counting money. He tells me, ‘Don’t tell mom, and you’ll find out what its for.’
So I don’t say a thing. Two days later, he wakes me up early to run errands with him. We came back with a new (used, but new for us) car. He also said if I don’t tell how much he spent on it, he’ll let me drive it. It was only a couple hundred dollars, but we were broke and she would have been mad. My mother tried so hard to find out, but I kept the secret. So anytime we were in an open space like an empty lot, he would let me drive it. I felt like the coolest kid in middle school knowing how to drive a car. Again, I am not to tell my mother. It was our secret thing, and I’ll cherish those memories forever. When I got my permit at 16 I was so excited to drive it for real. I ask my mother if I can drive her around when she has to go out, but she says absolutely not, since I have no experience. Well I can’t argue because I don’t want to get Dad in trouble. This goes on for a few weeks, where I keep asking and she keeps telling me no. This finally happened one day while dad was home and overheard. He comes in the room, gives me a nod, and says to my mother, ‘She’s a better driver than you anyway,’ tosses me the keys, and tells mom everything. Mom was not mad. She was surprised is all. We didn’t keep it from her because of her expected reaction, I suppose it was just more fun to have a secret between only us. I was so stoked and cheering that I can drive! I can drive! Dad says, ‘Drive it? No. If you can keep a secret for that long, you can keep the car too.’
Twenty years later its still one of my favorite memories. My dad absolutely is an awesome dude. I am so very lucky to have had him and to still have him. The greatest gifts he gave me were not material. It was his time and attention. I have so many amazing memories with him just doing regular stuff. He has the best sense of humor and is a genuinely good human. I strive to be like him as a parent and as a person.”
One Last Smile
“So a couple months after my father was deep into brain cancer, he could no longer walk and was confined to a wheelchair. My dad was 6’3 and over 200 lbs. before he got sick, so even after chemo and not eating much he was still a big guy. I was taking him for a daily walk with my sisters and stepmom, and it was partially snowy out that day. He and I would often go on our own for part of it to have some alone time. His brain wasn’t totally there anymore, but we could have some forms of conversation which was fun. So I decided to take him on the side walk this time, which we don’t do really, and we were alone. A recent storm had knocked down a bunch of branches, so I was clearing stuff out, then going back to push my dad, clearing stuff out, and back and forth for a bit. After about five minutes of this, we were pretty deep in and I decided we couldn’t go any further. I turned around and saw the sticks I moved weren’t totally gone and it was a bit icy, so I thought the more logical thing was to go off the curb into the street and then get back to his apartment.
I got to the ledge, going over some small snow which wasn’t too easy, but we got there. For the first two feet of the street there was some snow, and I knew it’d be a slight drop. I pushed my dad’s chair back, so with the front wheels down, he’d still be parallel to the ground. I push him off and boy, was it a lot harder than I thought. I had to physically hold him up and slowly inch him down all while in the snowy ice. The whole time my dad, who couldn’t move even if he wanted to, was saying, ‘This is a bad idea,’ in his horse, wispy voice, half joking and half serious. I couldn’t turn around because even if I wanted to I couldn’t get him back on the curb because the snow. I had to commit.
So for twenty minutes, I slowly inched my father down with all my strength because the last thing I wanna do is drop my brain cancer dad, and everyone will think I’m insane. Somehow, with adrenaline, I pulled it off and I saw my Dad crack one of the last smiles he ever would and he said, ‘We can’t tell your stepmom.’
We laughed, and never told. Man I miss him, this felt good to write.”
Father-Son Secret Debauchery
“Last year, my family and I drove up to Chicago from Texas to watch my middle daughter graduate Navy boot camp. On one of our days up there, my son and I went to see a Cubs game. After the game, we met up with some people we’d met at the game, one of whom was getting married and having his bachelor party. We bar hopped together, and at the last bar we ended up at, I was chatting up this woman on behalf of my son, kind of acting like a wingman for him. For context, he’s my adopted son, and I’m 14 years older than him, so it’s not too weird that I would do that, at least I don’t think so.
Anyway, I end up texting him to come over to where this woman and I are sitting, and as I suspected, they hit it off right away. They decided that they were going to hang out, and I knew what that meant, so I told my son to take me back to the hotel room. We made up the plan that, once we got back to the hotel, he’d act like he left his wallet at the bar and had to leave to go get it, because we didn’t want his mom to find out why he was really leaving. Well, I was pretty hammered, so shortly after he dropped me off, I called him to see if he wanted to go to another Cubs game the next day and to make sure he wrapped it up. You know, being a responsible father.
Well, I was so blitzed that not only did I call my wife, but I thought I was talking to him, and she was appalled that not only would her son try to engage in a hook-up while we were visiting his sister for her graduation, but that I knew about it and didn’t try to stop him from doing so. She was even more upset the next day, when I told her that I orchestrated the entire thing.
Funny thing is, the girl wasn’t even there when he got to the bar and, when he finally got ahold of her the next day, she didn’t even remember him, even though they made out for like half an hour before he took me back to the hotel. Her friend said they took her back to her hotel, and she passed out asleep about fifteen minutes after we left.”