My husband is the parent with credibility in this family. I lost mine the day I threatened one of the kids with, "You clean your room or you'll never see me again. I mean it. I'm going to go to Africa and sit on a hillside with Jane Goodall and watch chimpanzees for the rest of my life."

They knew I was bluffing. I wasn't going to do that. I wouldn't go anywhere without a mall nearby.After years of my exaggeration, they just sort of roll their eyes upward, shake their heads and say, "Mom! You can't believe anything she tells you." But when their father speaks . . . every word is chiseled on stone tablets. It is so.

He is to integrity what Walter Cronkite is to broadcasting, Mother Teresa is to the poor and Lawrence Welk is to the polka. In a world of Ivan Boeskys and Milli Vanillis, he shines like a beacon of goodness. He has given his children their motto for life: "In Dad We Trust."

A couple of weeks ago at breakfast, the Prince of Goodness announced to his son (a USC grad) that the Trojans had beaten Notre Dame. He had heard it on a late-night sportscast.

The kid was not only numb, he was ecstatic. Imagine that. SC knocked off the Irish. Later that night, he and his brother were flipping TV channels when they landed on a replay of the USC-Notre Dame game. Even though Notre Dame was winning, our younger son wasn't worried.

With five minutes left to play, his brother said, "It's all over." The kid who had heard his dad's proclamation of a USC victory stood firm. "The game's not over until it's over," he smiled. "They'll pull it out of the fire. You'll see."

With a minute left, the younger brother's eyes were still glued to the screen awaiting the miracle that was prophesied. "Don't rule out an 80-yard pass," he said to his brother. "They don't even have the ball," his brother yelled back.

When the final score was announced - Notre Dame 10, Southern Cal 6 - I expected him to lose faith in his dad . . . kind of like finding out Smokey Bear plays with matches.

Instead, he smiled and said, "Dad probably did me a big favor. Anyone else would have walked out in the third quarter."