Lauren told me today of a story a student told her from her childhood: at some point, her older brother sneaked down to the tree early on a Christmas morning and opened his presents before anyone else had gotten up. To solve this little problem, her parents started putting coded tags on the presents so that no one knew who each present was for until their parents revealed the code on Christmas morning. I thought that was a pretty clever solution.
But her brother wasn't nearly as bad as either Lauren or I were. Once, when I was probably preschool age or early in elementary school, sometime in mid-December I took a couple of my presents into a space behind the couch and opened them. I was definitely young enough that I had no plan whatsoever, so my misdeed was quickly discovered. Lauren, meanwhile, at age 12, had an aunt who taught her the tricks of opening her presents and resealing them without being detected. Another time, Lauren found the boom box that her parents were getting her and played with it--several times--before Christmas. She is, by her own admission, a terrible present-seeker: by which I mean that she has the terrible habit of searching relentlessly until finding them--she's quite good at it!
Speaking of hiding presents though, my mom had what must have been a terrible experience sometime around when I was in kindergarten. She was taking me to the babysitter one foggy morning when she ran into high water and pushed forward far enough into it that she got stuck. She made it worse when she opened the door and water flooded in. What I didn't know--but she was acutely aware of, was that she and my father had hidden all of my Christmas presents in the trunk of the car! She was sure they would all be ruined, but someone soon came by with a truck and pulled us out, and she discovered later to her relief that the gifts were undamaged.
So what stories do you have, either as parents or as children, of the arms race betwixt the two, in seeking to surprise or to be surprised (just a bit earlier than scheduled)?