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March Slice of Life No. 19

EN leans in toward me, swinging his leg off the edge of a grown-up chair. His eyes are laughing as he puts his hand up near his mouth like he is about to tell an important secret.


I motion a quiet sign to remind him to keep his voice low. We are sitting together in church. It is near the end of service and the congregation is singing, so the whispering of a 7-year-old shouldn’t be too disturbing. I lean my head toward him a bit to let him know I’m listening.

“Gramma. Last night, when the red lights on the back of our car were on. I put my hand up like this.” EN holds his hand up, almost like a high five. I look at his hand and back at his face.

He continues, “And the red shined on my hand.” He points to the inside of his raised hand and looks at me. A wide grin spreads across his face. I’m wondering what he will say next. He is always coming up with a unique expression, a play on words, a pun, a fact or piece of trivia.

EN’s eyes lock on mine. With his hand still raised, he declares.  “I was caught red-handed.”

My grin matches his.



The term redhand or red-hand originally meant having blood on one’s hands after doing a crime such as a murder or poaching. It originated in Scotland and is in print in many Scottish legal documents, dating 15th century and onward. The variation red-handed first appeared in print in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (1819).  Go to for more information about the word–its origin, use, and meaning.


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