The CIA is an agency that never sleeps. We go where others cannot go, and do what others cannot do. Because of our critical national security mission, the public often perceives life at CIA as incompatible with parenting. For this final edition on CIA parenthood, we hope these light-hearted and unique vignettes submitted by our officers will help to dispel that myth.
Funny CIA Kids
- The dad of my son’s best friend also works at the Agency. His 10-year-old son knew his dad works at the Agency with me. My son didn’t know. One day, while the two boys were playing, my son’s friend “outed” me. That night I had a conversation with my son about not telling people. I told him, “I’ve only told people I can trust to keep it a secret, like Pappy, Grandma, and your Aunts and Uncles.” Recently, my friend’s mom needed a ride from the airport. We had not seen her for the past two years because of COVID, but I’ve known the family for more than 15 years, and our families regularly do Christmas and other holidays together. As we drive, she asks me, “So where are you working these days?” My son, visibly nervous, quickly interrupts, “Mom! You said we can’t tell people where you work! We can only tell people we trust!”
- Outed by my first grader! Years ago, my now nursing student daughter was sitting in her 1st grade classroom, and a conversation ensued between the teacher and students about what each student’s dad did for a living. Although I was working at the time as an analyst in a not particularly “spooky” job, my daughter for some reason had other ideas about what I did for a living. When the teacher asked my daughter about my job, she responded a bit hesitantly, “Ummm… I think… he’s… a spy???”
- My daughter is obsessed with Criminal Minds. One day, I suggested that I could work for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) at the FBI. My daughter responded that I could never work at a place like the FBI or CIA because I don’t carry a gun to work nor do I drive a cool car. My son chimed in and agreed. I have always just told my children I work for the Government. I don’t know how to break it to them that I have been working at CIA for their entire lives!
CIA Tradecraft or Parenting Tradecraft?
- When it was time to retire, we sat our kids down and told them that mom and dad actually work for the CIA. Their eyes glassed over and the wheels started turning. They processed this information quickly and understood that it was not for the rest of the world to know. Then, they deduced that our CIA jobs are how we knew about their activity on their computers and cell phones. Didn’t have the heart to tell them it was the parenting skills, not Agency skills.
- As any good spy mom will tell you, you begin to subtly train your kiddos throughout their childhood on various spy-like skills, such as paying attention to your surroundings, keying in on body language, and noticing where the surveillance cameras are when you are out-and-about. When my three kids were really little, the movie series Cars was popular, and there was one that involved the cars being spies. Capitalizing on this interest in spying, we decided to tag the Spy Museum onto one of our trips into DC. The kids LOVED it. A few days later, we were walking back home from the park when my middle son walked right up to a pile of dog poo on our sidewalk and stepped, aggressively, in the middle of it. I was shocked as this was completely out of character for him. I asked him what he was doing. His response? “I’m making sure it’s not a concealment device.” I then remembered that there was a sample concealment device at the museum in the form of dog poo.
- I chose high school graduation as the time in each of my children’s lives to reveal to them that I work for the CIA. So, when my then 8th grade daughter said I was the best mom among all of her cheerleading friends’ moms, I was sure the reason was not related to my work. Was it because I made sure she was always on time to practices, competitions, and games? Or maybe it was all the money spent on camps, training, travel, and uniforms. The possibilities swirled through my head. She went on to explain that when her friends lie to their mothers, they never get caught, but I catch her every time she tries to lie to me. Although the reason was not what I expected, I still took it as a #MomWin. I smiled to myself as we continued the drive home, knowing that she had no clue that her mom was a CIA polygrapher.