Thursday, July 10, 2008

Deception and the Art of Motherhood

True confession time: sometimes I lie to my children. (This would be your cue to gasp.) I am not proud of the little fibs I occasionally tell, but at times they seem nothing short of necessary:

Example 1: I bake an amazing main dish of eggplant parmesan and I bread and cheese and sauce the meal for nobody's business, so as to disguise the fact that the starring item in the dish is... a vegetable! (and one with a weird name, at that.)

My kids are chowing the stuff down when Taylor (the pickiest of all my eaters) says, "Hey... this is good. But what is it?" "Oh," I fumble. "Something new. A parmesan casserole!" "Yeah," she presses on, stabbing a piece of eggplant with her fork. "But what is THIS?" "Chicken," I lie, so smoothly that she doesn't doubt me for a moment and even asks for seconds.

Example 2: Thanks to my fellow bloggers and bffs, we have a new breakfast favorite here in our house. I like to call it The Super Smoothie. With a little help from The Magic Bullet (love, love, love it! How did I ever live without it?), I blend up the following concoction: milk, banana, frozen berries, protein powder, ground flax seed and... spinach! (brilliant, SARAH! brilliant, Julie!) I swear to you that each of my six children BEG me to make them a Super Smoothie every morning. And I happily oblige while turning my back to them as I add the "secret ingredients" (it's very cloak-and-dagger), all the while walking around with a funny little smile on my face because it perversely pleases me to know that I am tricking my children into chugging something that is so fantabulously healthy.

I had a close call, however, this past week. In all my smug glory, I apparently got a little lazy and didn't blend the tar out of our secret concotion. That's not to say that it wasn't fully blended, mind you, I just hadn't Magic Bullet'ed it to smithereens to obliterate all trace of the spinach. So when Taylor spotted a little green fleck with her eagle eye and asked me, in horror, what the green stuff was in her smoothie, out came a lie: "Hmm... must be a piece of berry stem." And she bought it- hook, line and sinker- which is a good thing. Because I promise you that if she knew there was spinach in her smoothie, she would never, ever touch it again.

It would seem that my little white lies revolve soley around food. Unfortunately, they have extended into other arenas as well. Like when Carter came home from school, complaining that some "crazy mom" called the school district transportation office and now the bus driver is not allowed to play the radio on the bus. Ever. Apparently I didn't hide the glee that passed over my face quickly enough because his jaw dropped: "Oh my gosh! You are the crazy mom who made the call, aren't you? You narc'ed on the bus driver!" "Of course I didn't narc on the bus driver," I said with as much righteous indignation as I could muster. "I would never want to get anybody in trouble!" Which was true... in part. But of course it was totally me that made the call, and justifiably so! I mean, talk about crazy ladies: this woman was playing the raunchy rap station nonstop (including the horrific morning show) with absolutely no regard to how inappropriate it was for her elementary school passengers. I'm sorry, but when your seven-year-old makes reference to a lewd term that she heard on the radio of her school bus- a term that was made popular by the scandals of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky- well, let's just say that a mom is entitled to go a little nuts.

So I'm a liar. And I've never even felt all that badly about it until just recently. You see, we do an ongoing "value of the month" in our house and guess what the value of the month is for July...?

Every day I look up at this reminder on my wall and feel twinges of guilt. And then, as we do "honesty role-plays" and talk about what honesty means with the children, the twinges turn more into stabs of guilt.

This guilt, however, was assuaged by something I saw on Oprah: Jessica Seinfeld (cute and smart wife of Jerry), describing the principles behind her fabulous book, "Deceptively Delicious." She has mastered an entire cookbook on the very brilliance that I haphazardly stumbled onto: puree'ing vegetables and sneaking them into "normal" kids foods. Ingenious! My pal, Mindy, lent me this book and I've gone crazy trying things out and making up a few recipes of my own. (These days, Quinn eyes everything I make with suspicion and secretly pulls me aside to ask me what I snuck into tonight's dinner.)

Deception. Deception. Deception. I really don't want to lie to my kids to get them to eat vegetables. And I don't want to have to lie to my kids in order to create a better environment for them on the bus, but... what's a mother to do? In a perfect world, kids would love vegetables and bus drivers would have a clue.

Now if I were really computer-savvy and clever like my sisters, I'd post this entry as a poll and ask you to vote with your opinion: "Is it okay to be dishonest with your children if you really believe it's for a good cause?" But, sadly, I am not savvy or clever like that, so I'll just beg you to leave your opinion as a comment for me in the "comments" section.

And please, if you think I'm a horrible mom for my little deceptions, be kind in your comments. Lie, if you must.


Anonymous said...

I've a history of lying too
But you are doind it for a right cause.
I think as long as you are not totally breaking the commandment you're okay.
Again I love your bolg please continue to do so.

Sarah said...

Okay now. Julie got the spinach smoothie idea from me. So, I'm going to be needin' my full credit.

And it's not's obscuring the full truth.

Because they can't handle the truth.

Kelly said...

every mom lies, sure we want to set a good example to them but what happens when they come in your bedroom at an inopportune time -no truth is going to be told there, it is for protection, their own good. i saw jessica seinfeld too, brilliant as long as the veggies are still offered in some are an awesome mom! hey is there a recipe for the super smoothie or just throw it all in?

SpaceyKasey said...

Just don't lie to your sistah! :)

I like the DD cookbook, too. But I've been too lazy to do it. Instead I TELL the fam I did and they think I snuck in veggies. I call it Deceptively the Same as I Always Make It.

Julie Konchar said...

You must know already what I am going to say. I just follow what ever you do! (Yes, I wholeheartedly admit to being a sheep, an Indian--not a chief, a blind follower. But on the plus side, I natually have a FANTASTIC talent in picking out great leaders!) I say it is only because your children are so smart that they quiz you in the first place. If they were dull I'm sure you wouldn't need to say a thing. See? This isn't even your fault! At the very least, Quinn should be shouldering some of this burden for producing bright, inquisitive offspring. So by all means, continue all this deception. It is for the children!

Julie Konchar said...

I wrote my comment at 1:30 this morning and sent it off before rereading it, so I was NOT AT ALL implying that your little whippersnappers get all their brains from Quinn, and you know it! Although in reading it back this morning I thought it sounded kind of awkward. So for the record, you and Quinn, both easily my smartest friends, are equally responsible for the trouble you are in, namely all your Baby Einsteins, if that is indeed how you spell it.

Judy Ryan said...

I never had to prevaricate with you when you were little. Honest.

Rachel said...

My little lies don't involve vegetables (since somehow I got the crazy kids who love spinach and brussels sprouts), but I do admit to lying. And most the time it's not to protect them, it's to make my life easier.

Such as:
"Mommy, what are you eating?"
"Bread." (It's chocolate that I'm sure Lily can smell on my breath a mile away, but it's mine!)

"Is quiet time over?"
"Nope." (It should have been 15 minutes ago.)

"Can we go swimming tomorrow?"
"Sure!" (It's going to rain all day.)

Yes. I'm guilty of lying to make my life easier. Not sure I'll stop yet, though!

TNIRYAN said...

Okay, let's see. How to comment on this? I am a bit of a stickler on honesty, but do I lie to my kids? Yes, I think I have. Not as any sort of intentional plot, but absentmindedly. Do I think I should lie to my kids? No. I probably would have told my kids about the eggplant and spinach, and telling on the busdriver. Mostly because I'm sure that they wouldn't react violently to the knowledge. Do I think they need to know EVERY answer to their questions in detail? No. So I do what I'm sure many would call a terrible thing. When they ask a question that I don't think they need to know the answer to, I tell them they don't need to know. And they are still at the age where they accept it. Of course, I try to only pull this stunt when I really think it's necessary, not to get myself out of trouble. I don't want to be a liar AND a hypocrite. We'll see how this pans out when they get to be older.