Parents sometimes keep secrets from each other, but it's the ones that are kept between parent and child that often arise from the best mischief.
Many fathers have uttered the phrase "Don't tell mom" either just before, or just after, an especially epic moment.
Reddit user u/lexicalwizardry asked:
The responses ranged from hilarious to adorable to utterly cringeworthy.
Was making popcorn over the stove for the first time. While removing the cardboard top I unsecured the foil that is supposed to keep the kernels inside. It was a war zone, popcorn flying everywhere my daughter was using a pillow as a shield and I was behind the counter.
At the end of it there was butter and popcorn everywhere. My wife is a neat freak and would lose her mind if she found out the mess we had made. Even my 4 year old at the time was in a panic trying to pick up.
I'm a dad, but this story is about my dad.
It was the summer before my last year at college. A friend of mine got a job across country and he decided to take the opportunity to see as much of America as possible before he had to start work. He asked me to come along. It was going to be a month long road trip. We'd contacted a few friends and relatives along the way where we could crash, the company was paying for gas and 5 nights hotel, and we brought along a tent for the days we didn't have a place to stay. I'd saved up a little money at my summer job.
The night before we left, my dad was sitting in his recliner reading the paper as always. I sat there on the couch watching TV.
Now, my dad was a very conservative man. Old school. The kind of "kids should be seen and not heard" parent. Not big on emotional displays. Frugal to a fault.
So after everyone else had turned in for the night, it was just me and him. He motioned me over, and pulled out an envelope he had hidden. Looked at me over his reading glasses and said "don't tell your mother about this" as he handed me the envelope.
It was filled with money. Not a lot by today's standards but a lot in 1986 and without a doubt more money than I'd ever seen my dad carry. I sat down and said "I don't know what to say."
He responded "Have fun," and went back to his newspaper.
He died six months later. That moment was the last real one on one interaction I had with my father. A little while after he'd died, my mom was going through his dresser drawer when she found his stash. Apparently my dad had been squirreling away cash for years. Walking around money for when he went on one of his many fishing trips. He dipped into it so that I'd have some walking around money on my trip.
When I was ten years old my dad came to my school before noon and told the principal that I had a doctor's appointment. I had no idea he was coming at all, and seeing him in my class was a bit of a shock. He then told my teacher I have to go to the doctor's, and I was believing that I was actually going to the doctor's.
We ended up going to a baseball game for the whole afternoon. My mom was out of town for a couple of days and my dad told me to never tell her that he got me to play hooky from school.
I've got a very clear memory of being in the supermarket with my dad who was holding a stubby of VB beer and I must have only been about 4 years old. I asked him for a sip of his drink and he sort of shrugged and handed me the bottle. I took a sip and was like "Blehhhghhhhghhh" and he cracked up laughing at my disgust and took the bottle back. Then he turned semi serious and said "Don't tell your mum."
My wife doesn't have reddit so I'll go.
It's probably about 3 years ago. I have 2 kids they would have been 5 and 7. I lose 1 of them at a popular amusement park. Not for a second, but for over 2 hours. I'm freaking out for over two hours. Asked for help from park security. There must have been hundreds of people looking for her for hours.
Turns out she was riding a kiddie ride over and over and the ride operator just let her because she thought we were nearby. I was planning on leaving the country because I couldn't find my kid. Yeah, so don't tell mom.
I guess the ride operator got in trouble too.
Freaks me out just thinking about that day.
8 years old is an appropriate age to introduce a kid to The Princess Bride. She loved the movie. Right near the end Inigo Montoya says "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die YOU SON OF A B**CH."
"Daddy, he said a swear word!"
"Don't tell your mom."
-User Account Deleted
Pops died a few years ago, so I'll write this for him:
My wife gave up everything for the kids, and for me. She never had new clothes, or the new sewing machine or exercise equipment that she wanted. So in 1998 when we finally started making good money, we bought her dream car, a bright red BMW Z3 convertible. Not my first choice, but she loved it. It was a sporty little car, the nicest we'd ever owned.
That's also around the time that we started having some trouble with our older boy. He started smoking pot and drinking. He was failing all but his favorite classes in school, and he had what the doctor called a "suicidal gesture". He didn't make a real attempt, but he had a plan and he told us about it. Luckily, he agreed pretty readily to therapy.
On one particular doctor's visit, he asked me to drive him in the Z3. Of course, I did. It was boring waiting for his session to be over (pre smart phones), but it was a beautiful day. We rode home with the top down, and I saw my son genuinely smiling. It was rare and beautiful. But then, on the interstate, some asshole about my age indicated that he wanted to race. He was seatbelted, there were no cars in front of us. I opened it up to over 100mph. The guy kept up.
Son laughed. I told him, "Sometimes in life, you just have to show your @ss." And then I stomped the pedal. The asshole in the Mercedes backed off, but I let the speedometer climb. 120, 130, 140...
His/ head was thrown back laughing, and he looked so happy that I had a hard time watching the road. I let the little car coast, and we drifted back down to safe speeds. He was laughing and beaming at me, and I was laughing pretty hard, too. I asked him not to tell his mom. He agreed, and he did at least wait several years, when he was grown and out of the house. I still caught a slap on the arm for it.
My dad once forgot to pick my brother and I up from (elementary) school for 3 hours. It was a short day and he rarely picked us up to begin with. Once the school finally reached him, he came tearing into the parking lot and begged my brother and I to not tell our mom.
Took my daughter for some tire-spinning good times on one of the many dirt roads in our area.
Doing donuts in an Isuzu Rodeo w a 7 year old girl yelling AGAIN! My wife would have flipped her s**t. We were buckled in, and on a dirt road with no traffic. It was fine.
I brought my sons, 5 and 10, to Circus Circus in Las Vegas for a weekend. I lost the younger one for a full 5 minutes at one point. Scariest 5 minutes of my life, and mom never heard about it.
I absolutely sincerely promise you she's lost one or both of those kids, too, and that you never heard about it. Both my parents lost me tons of times when I was tiny- neither knew any better. Except the one time my dad lost track of me and I wound up on the news grooving to an Elvis impersonator. B-roll of a happy ginger toddler dancing carelessly.
It works out!!
As a child of separated parents, I had this said a few times to me by my dad but the best was when he had a big house party with his bike mates and a stripper. I was about 10. My aunty was rounding up all the kids to go inside but I didn't want too. I asked dad if I could watch the lady. He was probably drunk and said "don't tell your mother, she will kill me" so I watch the stripper and thought she was the most amazing lady in the world.
Later that night Dad's mate, Rat, got in to a fight and had a cut above his eye. Dad gets his first aid kit to stitch him up and tell me to run off but I ask if I can watch. Dad just says if your Mum finds out, I am dead. I never told her until Dad was dead and I was about 29. She laughed but we both know she would have killed him.
When my dad remarried it was to a devout Mormon woman with a large Mormon family. Every time she left the house we had a "don't tell Mom" moment. When I dressed up as Jesus for Halloween he laughed and laughed only to end it with "don't say anything about this"
My dad used to own and ride motorcycles. I must've been about 5 at the time of this story and he was tinkering with his bike. He wanted to test it on the field behind our house and I begged him for a ride. He said yes and I hopped on (90's. No leathers or helmets!) and we were off.
At some point, he made a sharp turn and I lost my hold. Next thing, I'm sitting in the dirt and blinking confusedly as he pulls up beside me, panicked as all hell and proceeds to check me over before he said "We're not telling your mum about this, okay?" I didn't even have a scratch and I never told her.
Im not a father I'm a son but somehow me and my dad manage to break 2 windows
My dad replaced the windows in 2 damn hours
Father of two girls. I always felt it was Mom's job to warn them about dangerous stuff. It was my job to give them permission to take a chance every now and then, expand their parameters of risk.
There was this fun waterfall in our town, stream of water coming out of a cliffside. You could climb up onto a ledge that would let you stand behind the waterfall. Wasn't much of a climb, but the girls were about 4 and 6 at the time.
They asked if they could climb up. I said "Sure." After they started climbing, I wasn't sure at all. The climb up was a little steeper for small people.
But they were game, and up they went. Every once in a while one or the other would look back at me and ask where they should go next. I think the correct answer was "Come back down."
But you know, in for a penny, in for a pound. I just shouted good advice, "Go left. Make sure you have a good grip and your feet are secure before you make another move up. Don't look down."
Aaaand they made it up. I joined them on the ledge. They were so proud and happy, and they had earned that trip behind the waterfall. Couldn't wait to tell Mom!
Yeah, no. Mom had seen that waterfall many times. I said, "Let's just keep this climb our little secret. Don't want to worry your Mom." I didn't think it would be useful to also mention the risk that Mom might kick my @ss. She didn't carry two babies nine months so I could break them.
Well, that invitation to conspiracy just made the trip up even more worthwhile for the girls. Not sure if they ever told Mom. I do remember a phone call from her some 17 years later when our oldest girl was in the Peace Corps in a mud hut in Mali, and the younger girl was in the Israeli military.
"Both of my babies are thousands of miles away!" she said. "What the hell did you say to them?"
I told them they were right to let their fear make them careful, but not to let it make them quit. I told them that if you're not afraid at first, you can't be brave. Brave girls. Can't have too many of them, right?
Not the father, but my dad and I were working on breaking down an old shed and one of the things we had to do was cut a couple planks so they could fit in the bed of his truck. We would lay the plank out on the table and he would cut through it with a chainsaw while the other side was held down by a clamp. At some point I had to hold down the plank (I think the clamp broke) while he cut the plank.
I guess the weight wasn't well distributed because when the chain hit the wood, it veered left and almost gutted me. There was about an inch of air between my torso and the chainsaw.
So yeah, almost got murdered by my own dad. We agreed to never speak of it again.
My youngest daughter, maybe 4 at the time, came out of the bathroom one day shaking her hands in the air and said, "Nobody f**king listens to me!" Which she obviously heard from me. I said, "Shh, your mom might hear" and so of course she repeated it. Not a proud moment but it was funny.
Not a father. Daughter to a father—who washed an entire car engine in the family dishwasher.
Not my son, but I lived with a girlfriend at the time and her seven year old son. One day I told my girlfriend that I would take my bicycle to pick him up from school. She told me that under no circumstances was I to give him a ride on the bike. Sure. When I got to the school he of course asked for a ride.
Seeing that it was a beautiful day, a small town, and almost no traffic on the streets we would take I said sure -- but don't tell your Mom. So we are peddling along with his butt on the bar in front of me when suddenly I find myself catapulted six feet in the air almost straight up. Time slowed and I remember wondering WTF just happened?
The ground was soon approaching and I put my arms out in front of me to prevent my skull being crushed and rolled. Immediately I panicked and realized that the kid must be seriously hurt. I turn around to find him sitting on top of a seriously bent bicycle laughing with a big smile.
Turns out he had stuck his foot in the spokes of the front wheel, as evidenced by a shoe jammed in the bent front wheel. That shoe jammed the wheel, bent the front forks all the way back to the frame, and catapulted us head over heels. He miraculously did not have a scratch on him.
I, on the other hand, cracked a bone in one or possibly both of my elbows and was soon in extreme pain from contracting muscles. My girlfriend was not pleased.
Obligatory not a father, but when I was around six my dad got Austin Powers- international man of mystery on VHS. I gave him my best puppy eye look and he let me watch it with him. When the scene with the ill-tempered sea bass came, he tried to hold his hands before my eyes, but it was too late. I saw a man loose his head and was shocked with tears filling my eyes. He then sat me down and told me: do NOT tell mom! (mom was really strict with movies).
About an hour later I greeted mom at the door by yelling: GUESS WHAT DAD AND I WATCHED TOGETHER!!!
As the kid, on a vacation home from college while my mom was away visiting my sister, I came home to visit my dad (who's a teacher and couldn't travel with her). My mom had told us there were chili leftovers in the fridge, and we usually toast Saltine crackers lightly in the oven to eat with chili. Well, we only found out how long we'd toasted them when the toaster caught fire. Actual fire.
We brought it out to the porch, he bought a new toaster, and we never spoke of it again. Until my mom came home and noticed the new toaster immediately, at which time it was spoken of.
My parents adopted a pit bull puppy. He had a habit of eating the couch, which made my mother very upset. So I walked into the room, and he had completely destroyed a pillow. My dad frantically stuffed the fuzz back in the pillow and my mom is not wiser.
Luckily my mom grew to like the little guy, and now he destroys the couch on a routine basis and gets away with it.
The evidence: https://i.imgur.com/jcvhRpE.jpg
"Don't tell mum I fell asleep". Whenever mum went out at night dad would fall asleep before eight. My brother and I would entertain ourselves, stay up a few hours then put ourselves to bed when we got tired. Dad would wake up right before mum would get home and go to bed, making it look like we all went to sleep on time.
Turns out he was passed out drunk. Every single time.
Dad here. I have a gaming room/office for PC gaming and all the Nintendo consoles. My children know that it's my sanctuary with Nintendo games that I played as a child. I do let my kids game but it's the moment that they seem sad or are having a rough day... or even in trouble with mom. I toss them a controller or even just sit and talk while they game. At times they get the "don't tell mom" while we game and share a moment while sipping root beers. They never do tell!
Otherwise, breaking random crap in the house while throwing balls at each other or wrestling always gets the "don't tell mom" going too.
My dad took me to a baseball game once about 2 months ago. Thought we were gonna get the cheap $17 seats.
He purchased $68 tickets for him and I. Great seats, near home plate between home and third.
"Don't tell mom" he told me as he payed for them.
We were running cows around in outback Australia to a buyer of ours. Father of mine making a random "chuck in all the stuff in the cupboard" sorta stew. In this pressure cooker way back like the old style. I think he had a few double scotches and fell asleep and he sorta woke up in a rush realising he'd forgotten our dinner. And boom. He opened the pressure cooker to an explosion of stock and meat. Literally hit the roof. It's a miracle no one got hit and burnt actually. Anyway we proceeded to scrape it off the bench/walls into a bowl and mop up the juices with bread while he mopped the floor. "Don't tell your mother"
I'm not a father but I have one regarding my dad. My mom has this white coffee table that she loves and she's always yelling at my dad for putting his feet on it and stuff. One night, my parents, my girlfriend and I were playing a board game on it. My dad dropped a pencil and got a mark on it but my mom wasn't paying attention. His face when it happened was the best. He just had this great "Oh sh*t!" face and my girlfriend and I could barely contain our laughter.
He tried so hard to get the mark off and kept sneaking scared glances at her to make sure she wasn't paying attention. For the rest of the night, he kept looking at the mark and then at my mom but somehow she didn't see it. My girlfriend and I even kept making subtle jokes about it and she didn't realize.
She noticed weeks later, and definitely gave him a lot of hell for it.
When I dropped one of my step-mom's wine glasses, but it didn't break, and while yelling at me my dad knocked over three more, shattering them all.
I was setting up some art with my father on my wall when we accidentally put a big hole in the drywall. We covered it with the art and he said “don’t tell your mother” and I said “sure thing”.
She stills doesn’t know to this day.
Dad caught me stealing cookies from the pantry at midnight... He did this as he was sneaking into the kitchen to steal cookies too.
Dad rear ended someone on our way to go skiing and told me “not to tell mom” but I did anyway. In my defense I was 3.
Ooh, so many from my dad. Once when mom was away he decided he didn't feel like getting up to take us to school, so he kept us home for a whole week and fed us lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
When my mom is at work and me and my father is home we throw an awesome 2 man party and thrash the whole house, but when my mom get's home everything is clean
I'll tell my dads story, since he's not on reddit.
I live in Milwaukee and my grandparents used to own a cabin in the northern part of the state, they also had some three-wheeled ATVs on their property. One weekend over the summer the whole family was up there, my dad took my brother and I on a ride, Dad in the middle me on the back, my baby brother on the front in his lap. Now this was the early 90s so let's give him a break on saftey. We were wearing ill fitting helmets after all. He takes us on a ride to some sand dunes down the road, and we take a ride slowly up and down these dunes.
I say "Daddy! Faster!" My father obliged and up we go, and down we go, and the the world turns. My dad flipped the three-wheeler on its side. My brother went left, by dad went left, and I went right....under the three-wheeler. It rolled over me on the sand. Probably the only reason I avoided injury was sand and malleable 6 year old bones. Needless to say after he was satisfied that nothing was broken, he says "you can NEVER tell your mother." I'm 34 now and I never have.
One night I was enjoying a small bit of ice cream after my four year old daughter went to bed. She came downstairs and 'caught' me. So I offered her a small bite, but since she was supposed to be in bed, I said "don't tell mom." She assured me she wouldn't. My wife wouldn't have cared anyway but it was a fun little game to play.
After she went up to bed and I was down on the couch, she snuck in to the master bedroom where mom was resting. She told mom that I had let her have some ice cream, and she was afraid of "sugar bugs" so could she please brush her teeth again. My wife just laughed at me the next day. Little bugger ratted me out to brush her teeth, something she doesn't like doing anyway.
Once, very young me had a little floaty accident in the bathtub. Dad deftly shoveled up the bath turd with one of my mom's long pink hair picks. He washed it up, told me not to tell her, of course, and to this day I mentally snicker when I see people wearing bright colored hair picks. But my secret will stay safe from mom forever.
My wife or I will write notes and put them in our 9 year old son's lunch box most days. One day my wife's note was found by a boy named Max in my son's class and read aloud to his table. Needless to say my son came home quite embarrassed. Since I'm currently unemployed I went to have lunch with my son at school the next day. Towards the end of lunch, he points the boy out to me.
We have always preached turning the other cheek, telling the teacher, etc, but something about this kid's face made all those teachings fly out of window. I told my son "now listen, I'm going to tell you something you can say to him but you cannot tell your mother". My son replies that he'll keep our secret so I give him a pretty mild burn and tell him to use it discretely. Fast forward to that evening and my wife is signing the daily conduct sheet upon which is written:
"Your son came into the classroom after lunch and yelled to the entire class that Max's mother doesn't send him notes because she doesn't love him". He didn't rat me out to the teacher but I fell on the sword for him at home.
When I was a kid, my dad would mow the lawn and then sneak up to the local dive bar and have a beer before my mom noticed he was done. I grew up in a town of roughly 1,200 people and the bar was two blocks away so it was totally feasible. My dad used to bring me with him, bribe my silence with a $1 bag of redskin peanuts and a can of Mountain Dew. My mom always knew because I'd slip up about the peanuts a day or two later.
Fast forward to being 24. I'd just moved to a new state after grad school with my then-boyfriend's job, I was underemployed at the time and my only company was my new kitten. I didn't tell my parents but I think my dad always knew I was miserable. One day I got a package from home that was 1 lb of redskin peanuts. He tracked down the vendor from the bar and bought them in a bulk bag. Still warms my heart when I think about it three years later.
At 16 my parents helped me get a car; the keys to freedom were: Per Dad: no tickets, pay my own gas and maintenance and Per Mom: home by curfew After a few close calls/negotiating a few extra minutes with upset Mom, Dad recommends I call him if I'm cutting it close. Really...? From then on, I'd call Dad, he'd tell Mom that he would wait up, aka fall asleep in the lazyboy. This was a 2 birds one stone deal. He got parenting cred from Mom (go on to bed, honey) and a good night's nap in the lazyboy until I drifted home.
Miss you Dad.