My son wants to be a lawyer. So my family held a mock ‘criminal’ trial. Shenanigans ensued.

OPINION: I was the prosecutor who brought my wife up on charges. My daughter was the judge, my son was her defender. It went ... crazy

A Florida judge says hate crime charges may be brought against two of three white men arrested in connection to the shooting death of a Black man in Jacksonville. (Photo: AdobeStock)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Some trials are extremely consequential. Some trials are not. This is a story about one of those trials that was not extremely consequential. It was not even a real trial, but it was a real trial as far as my family was concerned. 

See about a week ago my son, 15, said, for the first time, that when he grows up, he wants to be a lawyer. It’s a good fit because he loves to argue and he can stay calm in a crazy situation. I thought that was a great idea and I wanted to support it. Also, on a totally unrelated note, on Thursday night when I went to bed (after my wife), the Reynolds Wrap was in the box that it came in, but on Friday morning when I woke up (after my wife), the tube of Reynolds Wrap was suddenly not in the box that it came in. It was just lying there in the drawer completely naked. I have asked my wife in the past not to separate the Reynolds Wrap from the box. I have also asked her not to separate the bag that holds cereal from the box it came in. She thinks it’s “saving space,” but I think it’s “ruining the thing that was in the box.” I mean, once cereal is out of the box for a couple of days, it just loses some je ne sais quoi. So when I found that she had done this again, I was… peeved. I texted her.

Me, nicely: Hey, honey, in the future, can you not take the Reynolds Wrap out of the box please, love you.

Her: Uh, OK, but I didn’t do that.

Me: Seriously?

Her: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

I was like, what the what? You’re saying you didn’t do it when you clearly did? I mean, I can’t. Dear reader, I tried to let it go but I could not. I had to get to the bottom of this. I had to talk with my wife about this in a way that was totally passive-aggressive. I opened up the family group text. 

Me: Hey guys tonight after dinner we’re going to have… a trial! I’m bringing Mommy up on charges. 

My wife (knowing what I’m up to): Oh Jesus.

That night at 7 p.m., I said, “OK, Hendrix (our son), you’re going to be Mommy’s attorney. You’re her public defender. That means you defend her and you don’t get paid. And you Fairuz (our daughter) will be the judge.” 

We set up around the rectangular dining room table. The baby (our daughter; she’s 14 but I still think of her as the baby) was alone on the long side of the table. My wife was at the head of the table but facing out toward my son, and me, who were standing to face the judge. It felt like a trial.

Me: OK, Hendrix you’re Mommy’s defender so you present your case second. You’ll defend her after I present my case and cross-examine her.

My daughter (to me): So are we on the same team?

Me: No baby, you’re the judge.

Of course, my son pounced on that. Hendrix (apoplectic): I move for a mistrial! The judge thinks she and the prosecutor are on the same team! 

I thought that was brilliant. I was proud of him for thinking of that. He was doing a great job defending his definitely guilty client, and he may have been right, but I wasn’t letting the trial end before it started. I wanted him to experience being a lawyer in a little trial. And I had to get to the bottom of my Reynolds Wrap whodunit. After my son launched his mistrial motion, my daughter glanced at me. I quickly shook my head no.

Daughter (whispering but everyone can hear her): What do I say?

Me (whispering): Motion denied.

Daughter (normal voice): Motion denial.

Son: This whole interaction proves what I’m saying!

Daughter: Move along counselor.

I began to lay out my case against Mommy knowing full well that my daughter would never find her mom guilty even if she had been caught red-handed. And the penalty that the prosecution was looking for was like an hour alone in the bathroom which would probably be really nice for her so this was a low-stakes deal. But in the subtle, subterranean yearslong conversations that reverberate throughout a marriage, this was not a low-stakes deal. It was a medium-stakes deal. I wasn’t looking for an apology or a promise to not do it again. I just wanted to know whodunit. And I wanted other people to know that I knew. And to know that I knew that they knew that I knew. Married people will understand.

I was surgical when cross-examining the witness. 

Me: Were you in the kitchen on the morning of Friday the 31st?

Wife: You know I was. I made you some eggs.

Me: Yes or no answers, please. So you were in the vicinity of the crime at the time of the crime?

Wife: Maybe.

Me: And have you or have you not in the past taken Reynolds Wrap out of the box?

Wife: What?

Me: And have you or have you not in the past taken cereal bags out of the box even after your husband asked you nicely to not do that?

In a long marriage, passive-aggressive communication becomes part of the family.

Son: Objection!

Daughter: Denial.

Me: Denied.

Daughter: Denied.

Son: They ARE on the same team!

Me (to my wife; dramatically like a movie lawyer): Did you or did you not throw the Reynolds Wrap box in the trash?!?

Wife (exasperated): No!!!

The prosecution rested. The defense began.

Son: Did you throw the Reynolds Wrap box in the trash?

Wife: For the 10th time, no.

Son (dramatically): Does the prosecution have a box? Do they know for certain that this box was ever in the trash? Can they even confirm that this throwing away of the box even happened?!? 

At that point, my daughter said, “OK, enough of this.” She got up and went into the kitchen and opened the bottom drawer to reveal … the Reynolds Wrap box. It had fallen down out of the top drawer and into the space behind the bottom drawer. She had known it was there the whole time. She fished it out and held it up and said, “Not guilty!” My son moved for a mistrial. I had to explain to him he’d already won the trial. It’s fine. It was fun for everyone and even though my wife had not done the crime, the box fell down there by accident, I still somehow felt heard so, you know, a win is a win. And my son still wants to be a lawyer so I think he was encouraged by the whole thing. But he may be facing his own trial in the very near future. I’m considering bringing him up on a charge of murder. He murdered a whole bag of pita chips that I’d been looking forward to. Justice never sleeps.


Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.

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