Becoming a mom has made me a better person in so many ways...except one. I've never been a big liar in my life - sure a few white ones here and there, but nothing extreme. I'm a writer, so I've always been able to spin a good yarn. But now that I'm a mom, I find things flying out of my mouth before I even think about them. Things that aren't hurtful or in any way going to scar my children, but things that are simply not true.
Case #1: We try to avoid giving our kids excessive amounts of sweets. Sure a piece of cake at a birthday party or the random cookie here and there, but by and large, we don't shovel sweets into our kids. I, on the other hand, am another story. I'm a huge chocoholic and it seems to have gotten worse since I've had kids. Chocolate is my stress food, and I must be a heck of a lot more stressed because I find myself turning to it regularly since we entered the terrible twos and the thankless threes and the f***ing fours (at least that's how my sister-in-law refers to them!)
In a moment of desperation, I'll whip out a bag of chocolate chips from the baking drawer and shovel them in by the handful. One night, my oldest son asked if he could have one. Without blinking an eye, I replied,
"Oh, honey. You wouldn't like these. They're mommy's SPICY drops."
I don't know where it came from, just bubbled up and poured out of my mouth. And henceforth, Nestle Tollhouse morsels have lovingly been referred to as Mommy's Spicy Drops. Alex will even say to Ben. "You won't like those. They're spicy!"
Case #2: My niece was visiting for a week last Christmas. She was running a fever while here and her mom was trying to get her to take some medicine. It was fairly benign stuff as far as medicine goes (probably Children's Tylenol), but my niece hated the taste. Her mother had tried everything. I finally told my niece that when medicine is exposed to air, the taste starts to change. The longer she waited, the worse the medicine would be going down. With that she promptly picked up the medicine cup and chugged the offensive liquid.
I, on the other hand, had to pause momentarily and take stock of the lies flying out of my mouth. Where do these things come from?
Case #3: Yesterday, I had my boys at the grocery store. Ben was riding in the seat at the top of the cart, and Alex insisted on walking. He was dawdling along and kept veering in front of the cart. Thoroughly afraid that I would squash my son's toes flat, I bit my tongue and reminded myself he needs his independence. Once I've warned him, he needs to learn for himself that the grocery cart will not feel good ramming into the back of his head.
We hit the dairy section and he started complaining that he was cold. This was my chance. Without thinking I said,
"You should get in the cart. There's a heater in there that will warm you right up."
Alex questioned. "Really?"
"Absolutely. It is so much warmer in the cart with the magic heater."
Now, once I threw the word "magic" into the sentence, Alex knew that this was a good natured story. The woman next to me near the cheese case looked appalled, however. She glared at me, as if to say, "How could you blatantly lie to your child like that?" Obviously, this woman has never had children and did not understand the things one will say in moments of mommy desperation.
After much thought I've decided that calling this behavior "creative parenting" rather than "lying" will assuage my guilt. I also think I've determined how these dishonest impulses made their way into my being. This is all the fault of my dear, beloved BROTHER.
Growing up, my brother would tell me entirely unbelievable things on a daily basis. I won't chalk it up to "creative brothering" as much as "mischievous brothering." He wanted to see how much he could get away with. How many crazy things he could get his sister, four years younger and four years dumber, to repeat as gospel. Would you like some examples?
Until I reached driving age, and was forced to learn the ins and out of my own car, I wholeheartedly believed that the black lines that run across the back windshield of a car (known lovingly as defrosting wires) were to deflect lightning should it hit my car. During one of our endless Griswold-driving vacations, he convinced me that should we ever get caught in a catastrophic rainstorm, those lines would act like a lightening rod, protecting our car from the ravages of airborn electricity.
We grew up in the Chicago area, and spent A LOT of time entertaining ourselves in the backseat, as our family traveled on various toll roads throughout the state. In Illinois, the road department creates rumble strips about 1/2 mile before the toll plazas to warn drivers that a toll booth is approaching. The sound of those rumble strips buzzing beneath our car and my mom saying, "Open my wallet and find me another quarter," could be part of a soundtrack to my childhood. One day in a moment of boredom, my brother convinced me that the rumble strips were for blind drivers who couldn't see the toll booth approaching. Blind drivers? Yes. The sad part, is that I didn't question, or even think twice about the concept of a visually-impaired driver until much later in life.
This trip down memory lane has convinced me of one thing. When Alex is 16 and tells his first girlfriend that he can't eat her chocolate-chip cookies because he doesn't like spicy drops. He will come home utterly confused because his girlfriend thinks he's a freak. It will not be his mother, who suffers from a mild form of Dishonesty Tourettes, to blame. I'll simply smile, throw a handful of Spicy Drops in my mouth and say, "Go talk to your Uncle Mark."