Saturday, February 19, 2005

Parental Lies Come Home to Roost

I'm sure you've all done it, if you have kids. Haven't you? Yes. You've told them things that were convenient at the time but later turned out to be Not Entirely Accurate. And then have had to do some backtracking and explaining. Well it happened to me yesterday morning as we were driving the 5-year-old to school in the van. The kids know certain things about driving. One is they MUST be in their car seats and buckled up. Another is that they may not have the overhead lights on while we are driving. Why? Because (we told them) the police would stop our car if they saw those things. I probably should've just told them the police would come if they started arguing or hitting each other, too, but for some reason I've never pressed my luck in that direction. It was enough that they accepted the seatbelts without complaint. Yesterday morning, though, the 3-year-old chose an odd toy to bring with him. I usually allow him to bring the toy of his choice, since I have to wake him up and drag him off to school with the 5-year-old even though he doesn't get dropped off. It's his reward for being relatively cooperative about it. Normally he brings Rescue Heroes, or Ninja Turtles, or Power Rangers, or sometimes his foam letters and numbers. Today, though, he brought a tennis racket. Okay, you could make the argument that what parent in their right mind would allow a 3-year-old to bring a tennis racket on a car trip, even for recreational purposes not involving the French Open. He just wanted to peer at his brother through the strings. Or so he said. And I believed him! You see, I am NOT in my right mind at that hour, and this probably proves it. Anyway, about halfway into the trip he gets bored of making faces through the strings and decides to poke his brother in the leg. "No poking," I warned him. The poking ceased. The next thing I knew he was chuckling. Then I hear the 5-year-old say, "NOOOOoooooooo! You can't do that!" I look over my shoulder. The 3-year-old has the racket aimed directly overhead, handle side up. He is trying to flick the light on. He succeeds. "NOOOOOoooooo!" the 5-year-old wails. The 3-year-old giggles. He is omnipotent with a tennis racket. "Don't you know what will happen if you turn lights on while we're driving?" the 5-year-old said. "The POLICE will stop us and ARREST YOU. They'll take you away from our family FOREVER, and you'll have to go to JAIL and eat CRUNCHY BANANAS." The 3-year-old just laughed. I was forced to admit that the police would "not exactly" pull us over if the lights were on. They just frowned on the practice, and might take our license number for future reference. Egads. Elaborating on Lie #1 with Lie #2! Why didn't I just 'fess up and tell them the police have absolutely no interest in us unless we're violating an actual traffic law or careening into a commercial building? The 3-year-old then said he would like to fly to heaven on an airplane. He wondered if we could go soon. "Soon enough," I said. I'm working on my story about whether we'll be flying coach or first-class.

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