Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Pinocchio Summer

My daughter got out of school TODAY, at 3 p.m. It's not even bedtime yet and I have already noticed a shameful pattern.

We were barely in the car and immediately, she wanted to know if we could have a neighborhood kid over to play. Without thinking, I replied, "Oh, sweetie, they were leaving town right after school pick up." She asked me without taking a breath, and I replied in the same manner. Quick and swift. The difference was that my response to her question was a big, fat lie. Yes, I lied to my kid. To her face. Without blinking. Without flinching. I was bold, I was confident, and I even looked her in the eye, and I lied.

Don't get me wrong, I like the neighborhood friend. Still I didn't even flinch when it came to telling a tall tale. It came quite naturally and comfortably, in fact. Truth is, though, my daughter's friend is no more out of town than Lindsey Lohan is sober. Pretty much, not a chance.

This got me thinking ... Why did I throw out that lie? What gives? Then I realized one sad fact: this isn't the first time.

Yesterday, my little boy wanted to go to the park. At 7:30 a.m. I was out of Diet Coke (back on that wagon, or is it off?) and hadn't made the run through the Golden Arches. So, a trip to the park before 8 a.m. wasn't an option. Before my son could even ask a second time, I blurted, "Sorry, Bud, the park doesn't open until 10. Let me show you 10 a.m. on the clock and then you'll know when we can go." Dear. Me.

I don't know what it is. Perhaps it's the fact that homework and crazy schedules have owned us for 9 months and finally we can just be. Just be lazy and do nothing. A break from school projects and reading lists and math problems. Time to just relax.

The problem is that kids don't relax and do nothing well, now do they? No. Kids need activities. Constant activities. They want to go, go, go, see, see, see. And, folks, me and activities are not BFF right now. It's hot and heat makes Mama cranky. As in, more cranky than usual. I don't like bugs, I fear sunburns, I loathe sweating. Plus I live in Texas. So, if I am outside, this wonderful trio isn't just a possibility, it's a promise. In the Lone Star State, mosquitos are the size of armadillos, the heat reaches 145 degrees (on a good day), and sweat pools in, oh I best stop without detailing those crevices. Let's just say, it's a good idea to carry a hankie to wipe your brow from mid-May to mid-October.

So, technically my summer began today. And, I've already told two pretty decent lies to my children. Not a proud moment, but also, one I don't see changing. In fact, I see myself as a card-carrying, full-fledged  SUMMER LIAR.

What I envision: The kids will ask to go to some fancy waterpark brimming with E. Coli and exposed flesh (not mine, as I haven't bared above my knees since 1987). They'll see a flashy commercial on television (because they'll be parked in front of it a lot), and they'll beg to go. I mean, BEG.  I'll pretend to look up the waterpark on the computer. Lots of typing, tons of searching. I'll find it. "That sounds like fun!" After researching this amazing attraction, I'll find it had to unexpectedly close for the summer. "So sorry kids. No waterpark. I was really excited, too. Ugh!" And, instead, we'll go to the nice, cold movie theater.

On another occassion, the kids will want to go to the zoo. Here's the thing. I like the zoo. I love animals. The catch is that I do NOT like the zoo, wait for it ... IN. THE. SUMMER. It's hot (did I mention the 215 degree weather?) and animals smell when it's cold outside. When it's blazing, it's like stepping in a sewage tank. And paying admission to attend. It's not an option. So when asked, I can imagine a response of, "Don't you remember last year, the zoo takes a summer break just like the schools. Remember?" Evil. Horrible. Terrible. But, honestly, this is what is going to happen.

Again, I'd love to say I feel guilty about this pattern of untruths. It would clearly make me a better person. But, honestly, I feel just fine about lying to my children. Look, I have their best interest in mind at all times, but summer didn't used to be a time when you had to "have a plan." Kids used to just play all day. Period. We didn't have to have a scheduled camp or activity. We didn't have to do a project or a craft. You had one such event about one time during the summer. The rest of the three months you were on your own. Good luck, kiddo. Catch some bugs. Roll around in the mud. Climb a tree. Perhaps I am painting a sad childhood of my own, but I don't remember it being anything but fun and dirty, and unscheduled. So, for my kids, I'll toss in a trip to a museum and a scheduled outing here and there. But, for the most part, my kids will be required to just be kids. And I plan on lying until my nose grows a mile long to make this happen.

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