My Daughter Fooled Me…and I Believed Her

My Daughter Fooled Me…and I Believed Her

Written by Ashley Alteman

Last week, my child came bolting into the house after her seven-hour school day to share some very serious news. I was certain she had won the first grade equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize seeing how over-the-moon excited she was.

She galloped into my office and said:

“Momma, GUESS WHAT? Did you know that it’s illegal to kill the state bird, the quail?”

I was baffled. I mean, my husband used to go hunting all the time when we lived in Arizona and quail was one of his favorite birds to hunt for, and even more so, one that he caught the most of.

Immediately, my heart sank. I love to eat meat, but I’m not fond of the thought of killing it. I consider bacon a food group, but I try not to think too hard about where it comes from before it lands on my plate and enters my eager belly. (Hypocrite, I know.) Now knowing that we had eaten illegal meat just made me feel like some horrible version of Hannibal Lector.

I said to my daughter: “Wow, that is so strange, I swore it was just the bald eagle that was illegal to kill….”

“NOPE! If you kill a quail, you go to jail…for sure. Yep! JAIL!!!” my miniature Einstein explained.

I called my husband and told him he’d been breaking the law this entire time—that he may as well have hunted and killed bald eagles. I also told him he should probably keep his lips sealed about being an endangered species murderer.

He was amazed…that I would bother to call him at work with this ridiculous topic and try to make a conversation out of it. He then assured me that it wasn’t illegal to kill a quail.

I repeated back what our child had informed me: “Not in Arizona, maybe! But Haydan told me today that she learned all about the California State Bird, the quail, at school today and it makes sense if you think about it—It makes complete sense that you can’t kill the state bird!”

My husband wasn’t having anything to do with this conversation and promptly hung up on me.

So, I decided to take it a step further. I phoned the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to get the low-down on this bird-murder situation. I mean, I couldn’t be married to an endangered species BIRD MURDERER. That’s grounds for divorce.


Rep: California Fish & Wildlife, how can I help you?

Me: Hello, my name is Ashley Alteman and I was wondering if it is illegal to kill a quail?

Rep: Excuse me?

Me: Well, my 7 year old just explained to me that the quail is the California State Bird and if you kill one, you are breaking the law. I’m certain my husband has hunted for quail in the past, and now I am really worried. I don’t want any murderers in my family.

Rep: Uhhhhh. Let me transfer you to someone who may know a bit more about this…

She put me on a brief hold and transferred me to someone who “knew a bit more about this” (read: someone equipped with a bit more patience to deal with a complete idiot).

A representative answered the phone and ever so kindly explained to me that hunting for quail is NOT illegal in the state of California.


Fair game.

Fair game.

What. The. Heck? I called my child back into my office. “Haydan, are you sure that it is illegal to kill the state bird, the quail?”

“What are you talking about?”

“What do you MEAN ‘what am I talking about’? YOU TOLD ME IT WAS ILLEGAL!”

“Ohhhhh. Hah. I really have no idea. I was just messing with you. But, the quail is the State Bird…just in case you were wondering.”

My child has pulled the wool over my eyes many times in the past seven years, but this time she had me 100% convinced that I was wrong and she was right.

I spent at least 45 minutes of my life not only confirming that my husband wasn’t an illegal bird-murderer, that our family wasn’t a bunch of endangered-species eaters, but also managed to make myself appear as a complete dumbass to more than one person at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Ashley AltemanAbout the Author: 
Ashley Alteman is known for her love of dinosaurs, ponies wearing sweaters, and overuse of commas. She is an editor’s nightmare. She won a spelling bee in the 8th grade for correctly spelling “carrot” and knew from that moment she was destined to be an amazing journalist, or a sarcastic blogger; she went with the latter. Ashley details her laugh-out-loud parenting and personal fails at SmashleyAshley. Follow Smash on Facebook.


  1. Wendy Ann Nichols Villa

    This is funny, but I am wondering why she just didn’t google it. It would have only been 5 minutes of her time wasted. I’m sure my little one will be pulling pranks when he is older. He already likes to hide and jump out to scare people. He’s 3.

  2. Jill

    I actually didn’t know what the state bird of CA is, so I’m happy I learned something today. And just keep telling yourself “meat comes from the store! “

  3. Alyssa

    The woman who lives on the internet didn’t google this? Hahaha you silly. Glad Barb got ya.

  4. Theresa @DearCreatives

    lol Funny, not funny! Now you know. Kids say the darn-est things!

  5. Mary McLaurine

    Hahahaha!! Gotcha good! I love how you completely ratted your husband out. “My husband is an endangered bird murderer. Our address is: 123 He Murders Quail Lane

    He should be home, oh, in about ten minutes.

    Thanks, bye!

  6. Lauren Baker Cormier

    Ha! My first grader colored scraps of paper yellow, taped them in the bottom of the tub, and hoped we’d think they were pee. I think he needs to up his game.

  7. Jeannine

    I love your conversations with Barb, they are so funny. As I got to the part of you calling state officials I thought “Smashley! No! Just do a Google search!” Google is my best friend, and everyone thinks I am much smarter than I am. 🙂

    Glad it turned out that you aren’t a family of state bird murderers. 🙂

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