12.15.2008

Liar, liar, pants on fire.


One of the benefits of having more than one child is that it makes it really easy to deflect responsibility for things which you might rather avoid. Like, for example, when your nine year old asks you what happened to the Necco roof tiles on the gingerbread house that she made during her special "all-cousins-overnight-gingerbread-and-toaster-waffles-extravaganza" at her Grammy's house. If you have more than one child you can say something like "I'm sorry, I'll talk to your brother about that. He's only three. Thanks for being so patient with him."... and as long as you can keep the concerned mother face, (the one where you furrow your eyebrows and nod your head slowly,) she need never know that it was actually you prying those sugary architectural embellishments from the facade of her little edible cottage. (By the way, if you ever find yourself needing to steal candy off of your own child's gingerbread house go straight for the non-spoon end of a metal baby spoon. You might think that a butter knife would be the natural "go to", but it's too round and slips a lot. The spoon is blunt for stability and slightly curved for excellent leverage. I'm telling you, that royal icing could replace the O-rings in the space shuttle. There's no getting through that stuff.)

Now, it may seem wrong to tell such a... well, a big old fat lie to your kid, but I'm a big believer in the concept of "net good", and I'm pretty sure that leaving my daughter with a memory of her mother sitting on the kitchen floor in her "sock monkeys and airstream trailers" pajamas hacking away at her gingerbread house with a baby spoon would not be good for anyone.

I find it interesting what we remember about our parents. My guess is that the stuff that I want my kids to remember is not what they'll remember about me. I picture them reading Charles Dickens'  "A Christmas Carol" to their children one day saying "Your Grandmother loved this story. She used to read it to us every year. As a matter of fact, it was because she so diligently read to us for at least 20 minutes a day, as suggested by the American Academy of Pediatric Know -It- Alls, that I was inspired to write that Nobel Prize winning novel last year." In reality however it will sound more like this: "I didn't know that Go Dog Go was so long. When my mom read it to me it only had 10 pages. Weird. Maybe this is a different version."

Aside from liberally editing annoying children's stories and the seizure of gingerbread house candy, there are other parenting moments of which I am not particularly proud. For example,
telling my three year old that although it was unfortunate that her binky was missing, she had surpassed the approved "binky use" age threshold and would therefore need to soldier on through childhood without it. (It worked well, by the way. She never asked for it again). Or,
insisting to my son that there was a Storm Trooper hiding in the basement so that he would embark on a "search and destroy mission" and leave me alone to write on my blog. (I know, weasely, but again, effective.) Or my running narrative of nearly every Disney princess tale where I inform my daughter that if Cinderella had stayed in school and gotten her Master's Degree she could've moved out on her own and not married the first boy that asked her to dance. (I'm sticking by that one.) Or my favorite seasonal lie - "I'm emailing Santa, not his elves, him. I'm sure he'll be interested to know that you think I'm a "total meaner" for making you fold your clothes." I can solicit all kinds of good behavior with that one.

Let's face it folks, a lot of parenting is just finding the smallest lie that works best at the time. Is it wrong? Almost probably. Is it effective? You betcha, and if you really think about it, believing tiny little lies are a lot of what childhood is about anyway. Sometimes lies sustain the wonder of the child (ala Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the belief that you really can grow up to be a Jedi). Sometimes lies, however, sustain the sanity of the parent. And when there is not much sanity to be found, I'll take it where I can find it. Even if it's stuck to the roof of my kid's gingerbread house.


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9 comments:

side of fries said...

Endre, Endre, Endre.

Let's start off (after, what, 15 years?) this way: You are funny. Intimidatingly so. But, do you know how happy it makes me that all of my high school memories are validated by the fact that you are laugh out loud funny. I am so happy to know that I was a "picker of good people" back then... and now too, but that's not the point right now.

How the heck are you, friend? Life continues to surprise me, and I'd love the chance to catch up, but I'm not sure the blogger comment board is the ideal place to unload all of my laundry, so please, please, please email me (ehawkins@brebeuf.org). And in keeping with airing all laundry, the picture of me as part of the staff directory at www.brebeuf.org, should you venture there--as I would as a way of cyber-spying--is both unfortunate and unable to be swapped yes, I have asked... well, begged).

Jadie said...

Classic. Someday a blogging talent scout (if there are such people)is going to stumble upon your blog and send you through the blogging stratosphere (if there is such a thing). And I'll be able to namedrop shamelessly and say "I knew her back when..."

I've always felt kinda bad for the little lies I tell my kids. It must be the Catholic in me. Not that I actually AM Catholic or even descended from Catholics, but I grew up in Maryland, the Catholic state, so that counts, right? So what if most of the kids I knew were Jewish? (Hmm...there is that Jewish mother guilt thing...) But anyhoo, I digress. My point--no more guilt for me! I'm totally buying into your "net good" thing. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. And cost effective--think of the therapist bills saved from your kids not having to describe you all pajama-clad and very, very expertly wielding that baby spoon. I'd describe some of my own fibs, but then you'd all need therapy--and that's definitely not a "net good." (That, and the real reason--my stories aren't as funny!)

pixie cut said...

first of all- therapy is always a net good. secondly - if you know a blogger talent scout (especially if they pay really well) drop my name all you want.

Jadie said...

Consider it done. Almost probably. (Just kidding about that last part--I'd certainly send them your way--but I just had to use the "almost probably" line. Too good!)

The Laundry Queen said...

Oh how I wish I had your gift for writing humorous prose! I admit to being a little shocked that you eat Necco wafers (and like them--very much-- if the effort you put forth to pry them off of the house is any indication! Either that you were just desperate for sugar). I mean, the only other person I know who likes Necco wafers is my dad.... and, well, you've met my dad. ; )

(I just really hope that you aren't going to tell me that Necco wafers are the key to all your talent. I don't know that I could go there).

Now when all those well-meaning and supportive relatives (ie. my dad) tell me that I should be published, I'll just send them to this post and say, "No, I shouldn't! But SHE should!" Keep writing Endre. I need the laughs.

pixie cut said...

I do like Necco wafers, but my favorite are the conversation hearts that Necco makes for Valentine's Day. I can totally pound a bag of those bad boys.

Jessie said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Lying to your children :) Oh, I love your new layout!

Nika Travis and Ayda said...

That makes me excited for the days when Ayda is a little older and I can really start lying to her, see I learn a lot from you :)

Val said...

I love your honesty about lying!! There's an oxymoron in there somewhere. Lying to children is an art. And necessary, I might add. Does the 4 year old REALLY need to know where babies come from?