Santa and the Lady Garden: Sometimes it’s Best to Just Lie

I’ve got a third grader living in my home, which means I get to field all kinds of questions that are really out of my league. The biggest head-scratcher last summer what when he came upstairs to ask me, “Hey Mom. How are your powers?” Now, if you’re the mother of an 8 year old boy, you start cycling through the powers of burping, making arm-pit farts, teleportation, and the like. (He recognized my familiar cross-eyed look and explained, “No Mom, like two to the power of two” in that same tone of voice he uses whenever I have no freaking idea what he is talking about.) But I guess I should have been prepared for the end of Santa this year. I mean, three years ago was when he dropped the bombshell that it didn’t seem likely that Santa actually used fireplaces, since most people in the world didn’t even have them. (I quickly used that tried and true parenting technique of distraction….apparently I was the only person in the room truly distracted and he was just lying in wait.)

So, now Isaac has entered that truly challenging place of adults – trying to keep the magic alive for the younger ones. And it’s killing him. “But Mom, can’t I just tell them? PPAAAALEEEEEZZZZZZEEEEE?” Ah, no.

For three years, I have been aiding and abetting the Christmas industry by continuing to lie to my child, even when I had a pretty good idea that the jig was up. But it was just a whole lot easier than living through this little slice of hell for three years.

Of course, I actually do espouse the use of an occasional lie to one’s children. I mean, really. There are days when you just can’t do it anymore, and that is the perfect time to just trot out a little fabrication.

Now, I’m not saying you should lie about the big stuff. I mean, don’t go telling your kids lies about the neighbors (yes, they really are weird dear) or about the meaning of the GNP. But there are times, like Santa, when nothing works as well as a lie.

Take the Lady Garden for instance. (A lovely euphemism if I’ve heard one! I’m afraid I can’t take credit for its invention, but only its continued usage. Mostly because the whole “bush” and “topiary” images just really crack me up – both because I love to garden and because I have pretty strict rules for “topiary art” in lady gardens.)

It never really occurred to me when I was about 41 weeks pregnant with the above noted little question asker, that I was bringing in the harbinger of doom to my nice little life. I mean, it really doesn’t take long for those cute little bundles to go from puking on you to asking you questions. “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” You go to the hospital to have that pink or blue bundle of spit-up and you have to show evidence that you will be taking him/her home in a car seat and know how to actually use the thing. What about making the prospective parents whip out their scripted answers to questions like:

*Why are you furry right there?

*How come your peanut is so much bigger than mine?

*Your nipples look weird – why?

*Are you ever going to not look like there’s still a baby in there? (Only with the advent of becoming an older sibling.)

*What are these big tubey-looking things and how come they come in different colors? (When scoping out the selection of tampons in the drawer.)

And my personal favorite….

*What’s jumping around in my pants?

The list goes on.

Have three kids and you get to have three times the fun. But mostly you get three opportunities for distraction, dissimulation, or flat out lying to the little question askers.

Oh, I know it wouldn’t work. Adults answers are often just not up to snuff. I mean, these are the people who actually DON’T know how to buckle a child into a car seat. (I’m not making this up. Seriously, I was waddling into the delivery center with Elias and I watched a young man, with a look of impending doom upon his face, turn the car seat over and over, trying in vain to figure out where to place the LATCH hooks. Hello people, it comes with a freakin’ book!! The teacher in me couldn’t take it, so I gave him a quick tutorial in between contractions.)

Actually, that reminds me. Really stupid people have sex and then procreate. Any teacher can tell you that. And not just after parent-teacher conferences. (We like to snidely remark, “the apple didn’t fall far from the tree”, but I like to think of it as a family tree without many limbs….)

I’ve had many of these same sweet children in my classroom. However, by the time they hit high school, the sweetness starts to wear off. It makes the first day of class a real treat sometimes. You start calling out names, each time with a little grimace. Case in point, I once called out “Delia” thinking to myself “Oh, how wonderful. A reference to Shakespeare’s Cordelia.” Nope. The girl said her name was pronounced, “Dee-ligh-la” – to this day I’m not finding enough letters for that one. But I just lied and said, “Oops, my copy is a little smudged.”

Lie number 17,482.

Lie number 62,209 = “Yep, you can tell how many times people have been forced to have sexual intercourse by the number of children they have. You are absolutely correct.”

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