Okay, okay, I apologize for the Oprah post. I've heard from two readers about how weak it is and what a shame it's the first thing all the folks from the 'editor' thing see, blah blah. Well, here's the deal: I wrote it six or seven months ago and yeah, I thought it wasn't all that great. So I put it aside for a rainy day - and lost it. After two or three extensive searches I gave up, only to find it last week. After all the trouble it caused me, darn tootin' it was going online. Was it really that bad?
Art Linkletter was right. Kids do say the darnest things.
But let’s call it like it is; they don’t do it out of some angelic innocence. Sure, most of what they say is cute and aww-inspiring.
Of course, nature has a word for that. It’s called camouflage.
When I think about it, 85% my kids noteworthy quotes either
a) excuse an error
b) try to distract me from discovering an error
c) try to pin the blame for an error on someone else or
d) make an empty promise to get what they want.
It’s like we’re raising tiny little Enron execs.
A case in point:
Yesterday I was lying in bed when I heard a crash from the girls bedroom, followed by the cries of my youngest daughter.
Five years ago I would have been disgusted by any parent that failed to react to such an event. Now, three kids and a few trips to the ER later I think of it this way:
If they're healthy enough to cry, they're probably healthy enough to narc on one another and save me a trip across the house.
Sure enough, a few seconds later the oldest popped into my room.
"Um, Daddy . . . Livia took my Wizard of Oz," she said.
At age three, she's already developed a rhythm to her storytelling. Here, as expected, she paused while shifting from one foot to another, all the while looking as innocent as Ted Bundy.
"So I pushed her," she said.
Pause, eye shift, speech.
"And kicked her. And hit her," she said, all in a rush.
Quickly now, while stepping backward and preparing to bolt if I didn't buy her view of things:
"By accident," she said.
Later that day, after that dispute and twenty like it had had been settled, I was BBQ'ing outside while the kids played on the swingset.
For some unknown reason I decided to hoist the girls overheadin the palm of each hand, like a waiter carrying two trays of food.
Why this seemed like a good idea, I don't know.
(tho' if my wife was not a faithful reader, I might mention that a guy could conceivably think the display would impress the ladies in the next yard)
The kids enjoyed it. Both girls were giggling like it was a festival ride and I was feeling suitably masculine. It would have gone fine too - they are, after all, only 35 and 25 pounds respectively - if the oldest hadn't kept wiggling.
"Stay still!," I said.
"I am," she lied.
"No you're not. Promise me you'll stop squirming or I'll put you down right now," I said.
"I promise," she said.
Judging by her laughter, she’d have promised to circumnavigate the globe if it kept her aloft.
Ten seconds of squirming later, she started to fall. I caught her, put them both down, and glanced into the next yard.
The ladies were still pretending to be oblivious to my existence, but I could tell: They were disappointed in me.
I turned to my oldest with annoyance.
"You promised to stop squirming," I said.
"But I did stop squirming!," she said.
Pause, eye shift, speech.
"What's does 'squirming' mean Daddy?" she said.
Now I have no doubt my kids will grow up to be as honest as the next guy - more so I’d bet, because after many hours of practice they’re still so darn bad at lying - but for now I have to sift their words with care.
Hey, at least I don’t have to lock up the silver.