My wife just found wrappers from her favorite imported Australian candy hidden deep in Thing 1’s underwear drawer. A frightful tribunal (more of a uni-bunal) ensues with all the courtroom drama of “A Few Good Men”.
“Did you take candy out of the fridge? asks the prosecution.
“No”, answers the defiant defendant.
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not. I don’t know where those wrappers came from.”
“In this house we always tell the truth.”
This is a paradoxical moment where the disconnect between parental propaganda and reality becomes so distorted that a 7 year old’s brain will simply not absorb it. Probably because the statement, “In this house we tell the truth”, is in fact, an untruth. In case you got confused, in this scenario my wife is Jack Nicholson, who “knows the truth” and Thing 1 is Tom Cruise, who can’t “handle the truth” but in reality probably CAN handle the truth.
So what it really boils down to is which lies are perfectly harmless or even constructive and which lies are soul distorting to the fragile psyche of a child. In golf, for instance, the rules are very clear and the integrity for the golfer is measured in very absolute terms. If you accidentally move your ball one nano-meter or knife the achilles of your match play opponent, it’s all treated the same and you are labeled a cheater…if not a psychopath.
In the parenting game no such absolutes exist. This is a murky world where the ends justify the means. For example, if one of my kids asked me if I ever pulled off a Moroccan hookah full of white hash in college with four aerospace engineering majors, while listening to the Cure, I would of course say, “no!” Why should I set a precedent that would make it easy for them to make a “C” in calculus? See, that’s a constructive lie and I can live with the depths of my hypocrisy on this particular example.
Here are just some of the lies I’ve recently told to our children :
- I am not Santa
- I will make pancakes tomorrow if you go to bed nicely
- That was mommy who farted… I mean broke wind.
- You’re old enough to wipe yourself
- Boys are evil
- Daddy was never a boy.
- That hat looks good on you
- Your were a very pretty baby
- I can fix that hair
- Crying makes you nauseous
- I completely understand why you’re upset
The truth may set you free but a well placed lie can save a lot of negotiating time.
There are many things I’m not at all concerned about. Identity Theft for example…not really worried about it. I’m almost flattered that someone would want to assume my persona, if only for fraudulent purposes. The Wrath of God is another. I think I could make a practice of breaking every commandment, every day of my life and never be struck down by the almighty (do I capitalize “almighty”?). The very real penalty of breaking any number commandments is jail. That’s not god working in mysterious ways, that’s the criminal justice system. Mercury of Retrograde is not one that I’m likely to heed either. Come on, I’m really going to put off signing a contract because my planets are misaligned? Maybe it’s just my Capricornian nature but I just don’t buy it.
The one thing I have come to fear is the uber flu that invades Manhattan every winter. The hype is large but the bug usually lives up to it. Much like extreme hot temperatures and too much Red Bull, it seems to ravish the very young and old. We’re all encouraged to get shots of exotic anti-flu concoctions but they very seldom target the strain everyone gets. This year’s flu has been especially violent. Stories of hard drinking Wall Street he-men bedridden like newborn babies with colic and family-wide vomit-polooza festivals abound. One perfectly healthy 20 something I know ended up at Cedars on an IV drip. True story. In short, I’m paying attention and I’ve adopted a few precautions that I’d like to share.
1. Wash your hands like Larry David with scalding water, plenty of soap and for the time it takes to sing happy birthday to yourself twice.
2. Cease all displays of physical affection with your kids. Cash or gift vouchers will suffice until May 1st.
3. Only press elevator buttons with your elbows (or knuckles in a pinch). The best thing is to order others to do it for you but that’s not always socially acceptable.
4. No sharing of food or drink with anyone. If you’re unclear about the protocol just google “avoiding herpes in the 80’s”
Good luck out there!
My hands are frozen and numb as I try to unscrew the hose from the nozzle on a brisk 10 degree winter day here in the great northeast. I’m from Houston where I was genetically predisposed for thin blood and mall air-conditioning. I will never be a creature of the cold. The hose’s icy contents weigh a ton. How come frozen water weigh’s so much more than unfrozen water. If I were a mountain man, with a huge beard, I would know the answer. I tried to grow a beard once and it came in all patchy, like I had ringworm. Probably another red neck evolutionary advantage not suited for the unforgiving tundra of the eastern Long Island. The locals in these parts call anything above 15 degrees, “Indian summer” and don’t rush to the sporting goods store for lots of Gortex. I wonder to myself what people did when Canadian Goose still stood for a hearty roast dinner and not fine winter apparel. For me it’s torture. I’m mean give up the launch codes kind of cold.
I can’t budge the damn nozzle. I can’t even spell nozzle… seriously… I had to google it. I finally go into the garage and get some vice grips and pry the damn thing off the faucet. I coil it up, drag it into the house and plunge it into a bath of hot water. Why I’m I doing this this? Because I’m in love with an inanimate object. An object that has reached unhealthy obsessive status in my life. Some people might refer to my mechanical mistress as “basic transportation” but in more refined circles she’s better known as the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab Addition. All the ice and snow and subsequent salting of the roads by those abusive highway department ruffians, has left my little filly wearing a thin film of white corrosive sodium. The thought of me being responsible for any rust infestation is driving me to action and near insanity.
This is not the first time I’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to accommodate this infatuation. I’ve scoured Jeep user forums in search of aftermarket tires and roof racks that would perfectly accentuate her top and bottom in the right proportion. I’ve done numerous private photo sessions on the beach at sunset. I’ve harshly disciplined the kids for putting horrible things in her seams. I’ve even shelled out for a top of the line air compressor that plugs directly into her on-board socket. This, to spare her the embarrassment of being seen with deflated sidewalls after our exhilarating beach romps. I’ve never felt this way about a vehicle before, not even my canary yellow ’68 Galaxy 500 convertible.
With the hose thawed I can now do a thorough spray down and remove the forces that would conspire to pre-maturely age her youthful finish. After this baptismal bath, I tuck her safe and dry into the garage. I then walk down the driveway and dig her wicked leased step-sister out of the snow drift I rammed her into at the start of the weekend. After a curt brushing off of some month-old muffin crumbs from the kiddie seats, we all pile in and head back to the city. As my thoughts wander from the mind numbing conformity of Long Island Expressway HOV lane, I can only wonder what she’s doing right now.