liar, liar, pants on fire

I have always taken solace in the fact that while my children can be total handfuls, they do not lie. I figured it was a maturity thing, and the day would come when they could lie to my face without compunction. But up until now, they have had a complete inability to do so, even when they knew the truth was not something I wanted to hear.

MOMMY: Cooper! Did you dump out this hot cocoa all over the floor?
COOPER: (his face crumpling, in anticipation of what is to come) Ye-essss…. (abject sobbing)

But those halcyon days are, apparently, over. As of this week, all three of my children have become pathological fibbers. Exhibit A, from yesterday morning:

MOMMY: Fergus, did you brush your teeth?

His toothbrush is completely dry.

MOMMY: Fergus, I KNOW that you didn’t.
FERGUS: Why? Were you wooking?

I convinced him that it was my mommy superpowers of perception that tipped me off, and that I had seen him through the door.

MOMMY: We don’t lie in this house. What should your punishment be?
FERGUS: (not too concerned) Hmm. I not sure.
MOMMY: How about we say no TV show before school today?

Fergus felt that this was excessive. I disagreed. It wasn’t the lack of tooth-brushing that got me, it was the baldfacedness of his denial.

Cooper overheard me talking to David about this, and as the eldest, felt obliged to put in his two cents:

COOPER: Mommy, let me just tell you one thing. If you wonder if Fergus is telling a lie, don’t wonder. Because he lies ALL THE TIME.

He was being a tattletale, but I couldn’t resist.

MOMMY: What does he lie about, Cooper?
COOPER: Well. Every time he says I hit him? It’s a lie.

Clearly, Cooper was himself turning out to be an unreliable source. Then, this morning, Exhibit B. Cooper had not seen bath water in a couple of days, so I shooed him off to the shower while feeding his sister. Ten minutes later, he emerges in a towel.

COOPER: I took my shower, Mommy!

He is completely dry. His hair has a few wet spots on top, apparently added in haste from the bathroom sink.

MOMMY: No you didn’t.

COOPER: Yes I did, Mommy! Look, my hair is wet.

MOMMY: Your hair is like one percent wet. I don’t think you can take a shower and have your hair only get that wet.

Cooper’s eyes dart around madly, searching for a backup story.

MOMMY: I think you’re lying to me.

COOPER: (sighing heavily, and returning to the bathroom) Ohhh-kayyy.

Anyone want to tell me what the hell this is about? And how long have they been opting out of showers and tooth-brushing? Are they really such onerous tasks, so oppressively burdensome, that my children need to resort to subterfuge?

Maybe they learned this from Maddie. She’s been lying for months now:

Maddie stands pushing against our coffee table, red-faced.

MOMMY: Maddie, are you making a poopy?


the power of princess

When published an essay of mine a few weeks back, about my apprehension at having a girl after two boys, it got extremely varied reactions. (If you’re here now, you probably know that already, but in case you don’t, you might want to read this first. Things were lively around here for a while.)

People took issue with what I said for so many different reasons I stopped keeping track, but the one I found the strangest was the women who wrote me saying, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PRINCESSES?”

Nothing’s wrong with princess play, if it becomes merely one of my daughter’s interests– but I thought just about any mother today would feel, as I do, that the focus on princess play for little girls today has come to exclude any other kinds of play, or toys, or dress-up, or behavior, for girls between 2 and 5, and that that was perhaps a little restrictive for our daughters. I was really surprised that some women thought that was even subject to argument.

Today, yahoo news has a story by Martha Irvine discussing the princess syndrome, and some other parents’ misgivings about it. If you are someone who is offended by my “problem with princesses”, take a look- I think Ms. Irvine, and the people she interviews, make some interesting points.

who I’d most like to punch in the face

If you’re like me, you spend much of your free time these days on Facebook, being seduced by quizzes like “Which animal is your spirit guide?” or “What is your cute Japanese name?” (skip the latter, that’s five minutes I’ll never have back.)

Most of these quizzes are not worth the time to find out the answers for oneself, let alone some guy you went to grade school with and haven’t seen since. (His spirit guide, in case you’re wondering, was “CHIMPANZEE!”)

But there is one Facebook quiz that I think is the jam, and it is “The Top 5 People You Would Most Like to Punch in the Face.” It is a cleansing exercise for the self, and a most eye-opening look at your psyche for everyone else.

My five, chosen a few weeks ago, were Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, and Kate Gosselin. I’m not sure those are, upon further consideration, the five people in the WHOLE WORLD I would most like to punch in the face, but they were certainly a list easy enough to come up with, and Kate was at the top of my list.

OK, I stole her from my sister’s list. But how could I not? Who wouldn’t punch Kate in the face? It was so obviously correct that I could not resist. Let’s all hate Kate! She isn’t very nice to Jon, or the kids, and she’s germaphobic in a really inconsistent way, and her hair is just weird. I’ve only watched Jon & Kate under duress (read: the only thing on Jet Blue that was at all appealing), but I had seen enough to agree with my sister: Kate deserved a good punch in the face.

But the revelations of the last few weeks have made me penitent for crowning Kate as the pinnacle of punch-worthy. Who wouldn’t be snappy, if her husband was stepping out on her with some early 20 something tart, leaving her home with the 8 kids, and then was sitting there looking all puffy-eyed and tired from his nights out while the cameras rolled? It’s remarkable that Kate hasn’t punched HIM in the face yet, and I think, with what we all know now, she would have raised herself considerably in our estimation if she had.

So I have learned the lesson, again, that we mommies should not be in the position of judging one another. If Kate’s marriage is really disintegrating before an audience of millions, that’s just sad, and she should be able to behave however she damn well pleases. Still, if she’s going to have a fresh start, I would really feel better if she would do something about her hairband of Rod Stewart she’s got going across the top. If there’s anyone who deserves to be punched in the face, it’s her hairdresser.

who are you being?

Fifteen years ago, I worked as a personal assistant in the home of a little girl named Nunny (don’t ask) who loved reruns of Full House. Every afternoon, Nunny would clamber up onto the cushy velvet couch while I tapped away nearby on her mother’s computer. “Who are you going to be today, Amy?” she’d ask. “Hmm, I’m not sure, who do you think I should be?” I’d hedge. “Well, I’m Michelle,” she’d say (she was always Michelle, which is who I suppose anyone would pick, if they got to go first). “Then I’ll be Uncle Jesse,” I’d respond.

“No,” she’d say, “you should be Kimmy,” and although I don’t think anyone would freely choose to be Kimmy, Nunny saw a resemblance between us I could not deny.

Still, I loved this curious idea that while watching a show, you could “be” one of the characters. It’s kind of a “Blue Skidoo, you can too,” kind of thing, and those of you in the know will know what I am talking about. And I’ve been waiting for six and a half years for one of my children to play this game. In fact, I’ve even asked, “Which toy are you going to be?” when putting Toy Story on for the seven hundredth time. “Are you Mr. Potato Head?” In return, blank stares. I thought maybe it was a girl thing.

Then, this morning, I put on a show for my boys I had never seen before–Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks. The title is less than promising, to say the least, so I did not have high hopes for the programming, but as soon as it came on, Cooper and Fergus went nuts.

“I’m Bigfoot!”
“I’m Meteor!”
“I’m the blue monster truck!”
“That IS Meteor!”
“No, I mean the other blue monster truck!”

and so on.

I have nothing to offer in terms of the larger significance of all this. I just think it’s really, really cute. And all too fleeting.

I don’t remember ever doing it at all, except that when I watched Say Anything, I was totally Ione Skye.

thanks, USA Today

Maddie and I are on the road in Florida this week doing Mother Load in Florida, and one of the chief reasons I love the Marriott Residences and Hampton Inns of this fine country is that I get to wake up to a USA Today on my doorstep. Who doesn’t love USA Today? As with Sara Lee, I believe the correct answer is, “Nobody.”

I suppose I could get USA Today delivered to my house as well, but mightn’t that ruin some of the fun? It is something best enjoyed when one is not in one’s usual environs, and I want to keep it a treat as special as the Doritos Snack Mix I never allow myself unless it is explicitly offered to me aboard Jet Blue.

I love USA Today because it boils things down to the need-to-know essentials, and yesterday’s book review was no exception.

Meet Panicology: Two Statisticians Explain What’s Worth Worrying About (and What’s Not) in the 21st Century. Doesn’t that sound like a book we could all use? It sounds like they get down to the nitty-gritty in the book itself, but USA Today boiled it down even further:

Only six topics got the highest risk rating: overpopulation, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, indebtedness, high house prices, effect of globalization on the workplace, and freak weather.

There, don’t you feel better already? I do. Whether Fergus is ready for kindergarten yet is NOT ON THIS LIST. Whether I will ever get Maddie out of our bed is NOT ON THIS LIST. And I don’t even *have* a workplace, strictly speaking! So I’m down to a mere five things that are worth worrying about. Not bad.