“Little pitchers have big ears” was the caution in an era when adults quickly changed the subject if they suspected a non-adult was within hearing distance, especially if a salacious information exchange was imminent. I was doomed to grow up information deprived had I not taken matters into my own hands.
How irritating to be relegated to the category of a vessel.
Hot damn, how else were we going to learn stuff? At a very young age, I improvised a workaround – eavesdropping. The idiom for that questionable skill was “People who eavesdrop, never hear any good of themselves.” Probably true, but who wouldn’t want to know the two-faced traitor who didn’t have your back.
I wondered what the cut-off date for “little pitchers” was; decided whatever it was it was way too far in the future and devised workarounds that would have astounded Nancy Drew.
Placing a glass against the wall while one ear was plastered against the bottom of the glass yielded nuggets of information that amazed me. This worked especially well when nosey, opinionated relatives visited. In fact, often they forgot the little pitcher theory and I could discard the glass entirely.
Information was never better than the two hookers conversations overheard on the party line. Sneaking the phone into my bedroom, closing the door and lifting the receiver to listen in required the stealth of a Navy Seal. Returning the phone to its resting place, and racing back to my room as soon as I heard approaching footsteps was worthy of a triathlon.
I perfected the keyhole caper in my ability to read lips through a door’s keyhole.
Southerners speak slowly most of the time, so it was easy to decode the lip readings. The one exception was the aunt who generated five syllables from a two syllable word. Deciphering her words evolved into an advanced skill set that proved helpful in the workplace; spiffed up and re-defined as the of powers of observation.
Upper-level executives cocooned in glass-enclosed offices didn’t know about this unusual talent, and no one from the “little pitcher” era ever chose to inform them.
Kids will always find a workaround. I have no doubt that parental controls on electronics will prove to be just as unsuccessful on this generation of “little pitchers.”
One can only imagine the skill set they will achieve.