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.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Overheard: Cracked

Tanner: "Hey Mom, I'm in that room in the front. (the formal living room) What do we call that room? The other play room? Anyways, I'm in that other play room teaching myself cartwheels!"
Me: "Oh, that sounds a little dangerous."
Sydney: (perking up) "Yeah, that sounds dangerous. I want to come!"
Tanner: "This is hard stuff, Sydney. You might really crack your head."
Sydney: "Okay. Let's go!"

I am always amused by the kids' sense of time. Tanner will say things like, "Remember when we saw that frog yester-night?" or Riley will say "Did we go to the pool laster-day?" And Bailey thinks that everything happened last year. She'll say things like, "Oh, yeah. We went to the park laster year when I was two" when in actuality we went to the park last week when she was three.

So I guess time really is relative. It goes way too fast for me, but lately the days are dragging for poor Tanner, who has been anxious for his birthday since the girls had their party in April! He has said to me several times over the past few months, "Isn't it August for my birthday yet?!? I've been SO patient!" We kept telling him (for months now) that he had to wait for May to be over and then June and then in July we'd see fireworks and then shortly after that it would be his birthday. So he woke up today and said, "I'm so excited! Today is my birthday!!!" Huh? We finally figured out that he thought it was his birthday literally the day after he saw fireworks. We tried to explain to him that it's still July and that his birthday isn't until August, but he was insistent that August is today. Poor kid! It's going to be a loooooong few weeks for him!

Speaking of Tanner's birthday, I've had this whole pirate birthday party idea planned out for him since like January, and he gets so excited about it. I told him we are going to dig for buried treasure in the sand box and do a pirate scavenger hunt and then "walk the plank", which he has translated into a "pirate walk" somehow. (He insists that we are all going to put on our pirate outfits and hold hands and walk around the block. In mid-August. In pirate garb. Uh, I don't think so.) But he tells everybody we meet about his pirate party and recently invited the dental hygenist who cleaned his teeth to come! She was so cute with him and said she'd love to go because she only has daughters so she never gets to go to pirate stuff, and- I swear- Tanner waggled his eyebrows, batted his lashes, and said, "Bring your girls, too!" (Like, hey baby, what's your sign? Why don't you bring some friends along with you to my party?) What a player!

Scripture study with the kids is interesting lately. We do a "little kid" scripture and then put the four youngest down and do a "big kid" scripture with just Carter and Taylor. The little kid scripture is generally something simple that they all repeat after us like, "Jesus says, love one another" or (my favorite) "Jesus says, honor your father and mother." We have a little scripture/prayer wheel and when it was Tanner's turn to pick the scripture he asked, "How about we do a scripture about Monster Trucks?" When this request was denied, he acquiesced, "Okay, then let's just do a scripture about Transformers."

Following suit, last night Bailey wanted to do a "pretty princess scripture." When we tried to re-direct her efforts, she put her little hands on her hips and said, "I either want a princess scripture or a flower scripture. The end!"

As for prayers, Riley's still take the cake. She says stuff like, "Thank you that we could eat little yummy goldfish, and thank you that my sore neck is feeling all better, and thank you that I can have lots and lots of beautiful crayons... etc. etc. etc." We have to prompt her to finish, or it could go on for hours, which is hilarious considering that she's our "quiet one."