I don't particularly care for lying to my kid. Like, if Lily asks me straight out if there is a Santa Claus, I am not going to tell her that yes, some grizzly old fucker is able to haul his fat ass around the world in one night and drop off stuff you can get at the neighborhood Target to every child who's been good that year. I can't say that with a straight face. Instead, I'll smooth Lily's hair and kiss her forehead and try and turn the question around (a solid, well-practiced tactic of passive-aggressive parents everywhere), as in, "Well, Sweetie, it's a wonderful thing to believe in. What do you think?"
This lets Mama off the hook, because I know Lily's candy-colored, hyper, 5 year old brain can't focus on the question long enough to really decide what she believes, and she's already moved on to the next thing ("Do you think he'll bring me a Bratz doll anyway, even though you think they look like trampy Barbies?")
Anyway, lying isn't my favorite thing to do. Sometimes stretching the truth is
necessary, though. Like in the case of the loss of Lily's first wiggly baby tooth, which she yanked out while watching "Little House" and ran to show me with blood dribbling down her chin, I told a little fib. I helped her place the dainty little nub, almost like a doll's tooth, in the special "Toothfairy Tin" her grandmother gave her, and we stuck it under her pillow.
Then, viola! Next morning, when the tooth was gone and a folded-up dollar bill was in its place, I, with my giddy mommish tendency to cherish these once-in-a-lifetime moments, was as surprised and joyful as she was that the tooth fairy had actually visited. (I also mused that probably "A dollar was a special treat for the first tooth, and maybe the tooth fairy would be bringing nice, shiny quarters from here on in").
This morning, however, I told a flat-out lie.
See, last night around bed time, the cats were making a fuss about something in the hall. I flipped on the light, and there on the floor, curled up in a fetal ball, was a teeny baby mouse. Aaaah, shit. That's what I said, too. Loud enough, unfortunately, for a certain someone to hear me over the whirrrrr whirrrr of her Cinderella electric toothbrush, and Lil came running to see what I was cussing my face off about.
She watched in horror as I coaxed the not-yet-dead victim into a tupperware container and deposited him on the windowsill right outside the kitchen.
"I bet he'll be fine in a few minutes...just in shock," I smiled and gave Lily a hug. When we got into bed we talked about how Baby Mouse would find his way back to his his warm nest where Mommy and Daddy Mouse would take care of him and nurse him back to heath with mouse tea and lots of kisses. Sigh. Lil said she wanted to check on him first thing in the morning, and if he'd disappeared, that meant he was alright.
So, after the kid drifted off to sleep, I made my way into the kitchen to get a drink.
I checked on the sill and there was Baby Mouse, in the exact position I'd plopped him, very much no longer alive. I saw as I glanced closer that his little ear had been torn and his stomach was starting to leak out from underneath him.
So, I made a decision, and this might make me a shitty person or a good mother, I still haven't decided.
I reached out the window and gave Baby Mouse a gentle, one-finger flick down, down, down to the great street below.
Then I drank a double bloody mary with extra tabasco.
This morning, Lily bolted out of bed and skidded into the kitchen. Bleary eyed and slurping coffee, I barely realized what she was doing when she came and bounced, thrilled, onto my lap. "He's GONE! He's GONE! He's okay! The mouse went home to his family!"
I smiled. I nodded and said, "Yep, he must have. He's gonna be fine."
Then I hugged my daughter close and made a tiny contrition to the great judger above (whomever that might be) for this teeny transgression.
Sometimes the truth is just nothing but bullshit.
The Blizzard of '17
6 days ago