Last weekend I told my five-year-old daughter that you weren’t allowed in Chuck E Cheese unless you were there for a birthday party. And she bought it.
Lying to our children. Some call it laziness, some call it a necessity. I say it’s both. Am I at my parenting peak when I lie to my kids? Of course not. But just like I know a second glass of wine isn’t always the best idea, it sure helps get me through bedtime. Lying is sometimes a matter of this mama’s sanity, and these are my most frequent fliers.
- I love what you’re wearing.
I have two daughters who like to dress themselves. This means that we often leave the house in ensembles that include a variety of mismatched prints and headband scarves. Halloween costumes that have seen better days are usually thrown into the mix bi-weekly. They look ridiculous, but my daughters feel fabulous. They select their clothing based on what provides joy and fun (the more it twirls, the better), rather than on what a classmate or trend deems cool. I know these days are fleeting, so I “ooh” and “ahh” and tell them how gorgeous and glamorous they look. They are learning to express themselves as individuals and it is a beautiful thing…if we’re going to Target. If we’re going someplace nice, Mama doesn’t give a crap about their creative expression. They’re not leaving the house dressed like that.
- We don’t use bad language in this house.
I would effing die if I heard one of my precious daughters use the f-word.There’s a time and a place for profanity and I find that a well-placed and enunciated f-bomb adds flavor to a story told over a glass of wine. It’s not quite as charming coming from a five-year-old when she falls off her bike. Like it or not, our words represent us. So I am the mom who gasps in horror when one of my children says “shut up” or “oh my God”. I explain to my girls that we want to use kind words, and I remind them that “we don’t use bad words” because we wouldn’t want people to think poorly of us. And then they go to sleep and I use the hours between their bedtime and mine to get out every precious expletive I was holding in all day. Because we do use bad language in this house. Mommy just waits until you’ve finally fallen asleep before she lets that shit fly.
- They only play music when the truck is out of ice cream.
For roughly two years, my husband and I got away with referring to the ice cream truck as the “music truck.” We’d be playing outside, hear the familiar sounds, and our older daughter would squeal in delight, giddly shouting “The music truck is here!” as she pirouetted to the
soul crushing noise melody blasting from the speaker. Friends and neighbors who witnessed this called us genius, but, inevitably, the dreaded day came when our daughter saw kids getting frozen goodies from the “music truck”, and our cover was blown. By the next summer, she knew this was no van bringing the joy of song to our neighborhood, but a vehicle that carried the kind of treats Mommy doesn’t buy. So, a new lie was born. “Oh no!” my husband and I would groan, disappointment oozing from our mouths, “The ice cream truck is playing music. That means they’re all out of ice cream.” Because eff you ice cream truck! As a parent, I should decide when and what my children have for a treat. I am all for bingeing on some junk once in awhile, but I do not need my children licking high fructose corn syrup and red dye from their fingers every single day. And, yes, I am fully capable of telling my children “no”, but I don’t need every summer evening to deteriorate over a bomb pop. So play your tune ice cream man, we’ll just do a little dance as we eat our strawberries and yogurt.
- The museum is closed today.
A day at the museum sounds lovely. Why would any parent deny their child’s request for interactive, educational fun? Because it entails going out in public. And sometimes, the going out in public, just isn’t worth it. Yes, my kids are going stir crazy and yes, there is a tension in my home that seems to whisper, “One of us is going to kill the other at some point today.” You know a location change and a chance to run around will cleanse your household and everyone in it better than smudging some sage, but you can’t. Because it’s already one o’clock and your children are still in their pajamas. And you’d rather clean the blood resulting from an altercation between them than put on makeup. Besides, the museum doesn’t serve wine.
- You love salmon (or any other food with some semblance of nutrition).
This lie doesn’t even work when it’s the truth. Yesterday, my three-year-old daughter gobbled up green beans and literally said the words herself as she ate them: “Mama, I loooove green beans.” As I served leftovers to her today she picked them off her plate. When I assured her that she loved those very green beans just yesterday, I was given every parent’s favorite meal-time phrase: “I don’t like them anymore!” So why do I even bother when it is a bold-faced lie? A lie that in the four plus years my children have been eating solid foods has worked a total of zero times? Because I am nothing if not hopeful. Just like the guy in a bar sporting a Big Bang Theory shirt believes that, one day, some fine lady will let him buy her a drink, I have to hold out hope that one day, at least one of my children will utter the words, “Oh yeah, Mommy, you’re right. I do love fish!”
So lie away parents. I give you my permission. They will work every time. By the way, I love what you’re wearing.