Lately, my LSS (Long suffering sweetie) and I have been having discussions about his GOH (gang of hoodlums) and how I will eventually interface with them. Having already spent several years messing with my own kid’s heads, I am alternately thrilled/aghast at the opportunity to play with tiny minds yet again.
I think I’ve ruined my kids, by teaching them songs such as the Lehrer ditty above (and of course, “Doing the Vatican Rag” and the inimitable Arrogant Worms'”Rippy the Gator“), introducing them to Monty Python, Rocky Horror, Musical Comedies, Disney. I sewed them Hallowe’en costumes that defied explanation – one year, my youngest insisted he wanted to be a camel-knight (?) and went door to door explaining to everyone. They nodded, smiled, assumed they couldn’t understand him. My middle son wore his Peter Pan costume until the hat no longer fit, transitioning then to being a devil. He remained this for most of his childhood. I don’t want to know what part of his little boy mind felt he had to dress as Satan, every year. I’m just waiting for the therapy bills.
I kept them home from school for mental health days – I was thinking mainly of their teachers, but also for me – it was one day when I didn’t have to hustle them out of the door, squeezing them into damp snowsuits while they hollered and spat Cheerios out of frantic mouths. I let them stay home for a solar eclipse and made special tubes for them to view it safely. One day when they were asking me about physiology, I brought home a beef heart and we cut it apart to see what it looked like inside. We cooked meat loaf volcanoes, played in oatmeal sandboxes when it was too cold to go out, made spiderwebs of yarn around the living room. They grew up thinking home life was fun, that there was a magic clean up fairy, and that the toys that got picked up in the “angry bag” vanished into thin air.
It was the lying where I think I really twisted them. There were the usual lies about the jolly red man who brought presents at Christmas, the Bunny who inexplicably laid chocolate eggs. They bought Santa because we’d put ashes out of the fireplace on the hearth and stomp on them with big boots, nibble half a carrot, leave a thank you for the cookies. One year we even tried to make noises on the roof. It was so effective that the poor things twisted in guilt all one Christmas when they compared their Santa loot (one big toy, one little one, a stocking) to their friends’ (a living room’s full) and they couldn’t rationalize how they had been judged so harshly. Perhaps it was the make-believe phone calls I’d make to Santa during our rebellious dinner scenes, where I would argue that they weren’t really THAT bad, and maybe he could still bring one tiny present if they promised to brush their teeth….
The Easter Bunny was harder, especially since the anomalies were just too much for their minds to contain. So we just ate the chocolate. That was fine.
I’d lie to them all winter, though, when I was alone with them in Shilo, Manitoba while their dad was doing peacekeeping in sunny Cyprus. I kept setting the clocks back by a half hour here, a half hour there, until they’d be heading off for bed at 6 and I’d have a blissful evening of solitude to clear up the muck.
The worst lie came one day as we were traveling out east. It was one of those forsaken camping trips where we were rained upon the entire time and to pass the damp and smelly time in the car, I started talking about the big white roll things that were lying about in the farmer’s fields. I called them marshmallows. For some reason, son #2 thought they really were marshmallows, and we had a lengthy discussion about how the farmers grew them and left them in the field to dry out and shrink, and then cut them up and put them in the bags for camping. My son loved marshmallows and could read, so I assumed he had read the ingredients on the bag. Apparently not.
He believed me, for this one last time. He started to get excited about the idea of growing them in our backyard vegetable garden. He wanted seeds, and his dad was more than willing to describe the bag of seeds to him, and even to encourage him to run into the store we were near and ask for them. When I caught the end of this, I raced after him into the store, knowing that, for him, being embarrassed in a store would be a terrible indignity. (I’m not sure why, when he spent so much time embarrassing me in stores, but never mind). Fortunately, at the last moment, he asked for mushroom seeds, not marshmallow seeds, and I was able to drag him away before he got in any deeper.
He hasn’t trusted me since. It’s kind of sad. When he’d bring back good grades from school, I’d say, “Great job!” and he’d reply, “What’s wrong with 98 percent?” Even now, if I can’t prove something to him, he doubts me. The other kids just assume I am making things up.
But hey, parents never maintain credibility. Kids now can check everything you say on Google and refute arguments in 2.466637 seconds. So I’m sure it would be safe to let me near the GOH.
Maybe just one little lie, here and there…
After all, I have to keep my hand in. There are grandchildren to consider.