The first day of kindergarten
“He was chasing me at recess and wouldn’t stop. So I stopped him,” my adorable kindergartener said.
As casually as I could, I asked, “Did a teacher see you?”
“No,” said Katie. “I was quick.”
A few weeks later, my son Robbie got sick on a Sunday. Since I needed to take him to the doctor the next day, I went into the school to get lesson plans ready. Katie went with me. By the time we were finished, it was dark outside and stars were appearing. We got in the car and looked at the sky.
“Let’s wish on our stars,” I suggested. During the summer, Katie and I had chosen our favorite stars. (Okay, I know they’re actually planets. When Katie figured this out a couple of years later, I got in trouble for that, too.) My star was Venus, the soft yellow planet that represents the goddess of love and beauty. Katie’s was Mars, the hard red representative of the god of war. Somehow that seemed appropriate.
Lying to our children
“Mommy, how do stars make our wishes come true?”
Ah! A teaching moment! I told my sweet daughter that it’s not wishes but hard work and perseverance that make our dreams come true. I was feeling pretty satisfied with my parenting skills until I looked over at Katie. She was sitting with her little arms crossed, glaring out into the dark.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“You lied to me!” she spat.
“Oh, Honey. It’s fun….”
“It’s FUN to lie to your children?” she demanded.
At this point, I realized that this was not a conversation I would succeed at, so I started the car and drove to Kroger to get some last-minute groceries.
I don’t know about your town, but in ours, Sunday evening seems to be the time everyone goes to the store. Katie was still fuming, so I planned to get the necessities and get home. Maybe if I could get her to bed soon she would forget about her anger by morning. One can hope.
Katie perched herself on the end of the grocery cart, the better to scowl at me. Suddenly, she looked up and with deep concern in her eyes, she asked, “Is the Tooth Fairy real?”
Oh boy. I explained that no, I was the one who put quarters under her pillow. (Yeah, I’m cheap.) Next was the Easter Bunny. Again she wanted to know if it was fun to lie to my children.
I said, “All parents tell their children….”
“ALL parents lie to their children?” She was starting to get loud, but I decided to pretend I didn’t hear.
Then came the big one: “WHAT ABOUT SANTA??”
I was done for. I told her what my mom had told me: “Santa is the spirit of giving in all of us.” And so on.
Katie was more than furious. She was livid. “You LIED about SANTA?” she was sputtering with fury.
“But it’s fun….” I knew as soon as the words were out of my mouth I was not helping myself, but I had to keep going. “Please don’t tell your brother about Santa.” Robbie has Down syndrome and a very active imagination. “Robbie will always believe in Santa–Robbie wants to BE Santa when he grows up.”
“You want me to lie to my brother?!”
Well, yes, I did. “Please don’t tell your classmates about him, either. Their mommies and daddies want to tell them.”
“They lie to their kids, too?” Katie’s world of rules and truth was crumbling around her head.
“Please, Katie. Please?”
Katie clammed up. I knew, though, that sometime, somehow, she would pay me back for this travesty. I hurried to finish my shopping.
Then, as we were in the center of the store with the rest of our small community watching and listening, my little angel looked up and me and smiled. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know how.
“You don’t want me to tell my classmates about Santa, Mom?” Butter wouldn’t have melted in her mouth.
“Yes, Sweetie. Please don’t.”
“Oh. You mean JUST LIKE THAT SEX THING? YOU DON’T WANT ME TO TELL ABOUT THAT SEX THING?”
Abandoning my groceries, I grabbed up my daughter and sprinted for the door. Carrying her like a football, I tried to clamp my hand over her mouth as she screamed:
“SHE’S NOT MY MOMMY!!”