My Parenting Secret: Mediocrity

A lot of people ask me how I do it being a SAHM of three small children. I often reply that it is easy: I just ignore them.

People think I’m joking. I assure you. I am not.

Here’s the thing though. Lately, I feel as if even my lowly standards of parenting have been violated. Lately, I’ve really been subpar.

Don’t get me wrong. My children are fed, bathed, clothed, and put to bed at a reasonable hour – but come on. Isn’t that like a bare minimum baseline for parenting? Shouldn’t I be doing something more?

I have been consumed with reading books (not even high literature – just your run of the mill fiction and romance novels) or watching TV. Of course, Facebook and random buzzfeed “articles.” But interacting with my children? That is rare.

I play occasionally with them or cozy with them. But most of my interactions revolve around shuttling them to and from school, feeding (okok, force-feeding) them meals, making them do homework, forcing them to bathe, and the forcing them to bed. I really can’t think of a time I spend really “being” with them.

Part of the reason is I really don’t enjoy playing with children. There is a reason I birthed siblings for them; there is a reason my house is a toy store. It is so I don’t have play with my kids. I mean, I don’t even enjoy reading to them – and I LOVE reading.

I think I keep thinking that someday, when they’re older, we’ll hang out and enjoy each other. But let’s be real. Why would they want to spend time with me if they don’t expect me to in the first place?

The other thing is that I feel conflicted. I certainly don’t recall my parents playing with my brother and I (except card games when we were older). We watched hours of TV and we both turned out fine as people. We are even both avid readers. So, should I really be worried that I don’t play with my kids and give them lots of over the recommended amount of screen time? (It’s in Mandarin! That counts as educational, right?!)

And of course, since my children are creatures of habit, I have a feeling that changing the way we relate is going to be harder than I think. On top of this, I feel guilt about homeschooling. I mean, if I can’t even hang out with my kids, how am I going to teach them?

So I find myself in quite the quandary. Ideally, I would spend some quality time with each of my children. After all, I do love them. It just seems like so much effort to change course.

There are so many things I would like to do and start doing. But then, I get overwhelmed or tired or lazy or any manner of excuses. To top it all off, I feel this crushing guilt. What manner of shriveled up old witch am I that I don’t want to make the effort to have quality time with my children?

This is why I keep having babies. Babies are easy. Simple. They have basic needs and I meet them. None of this other stuff like “relating” or whatever. Too bad babies grow up.

Any ideas on how to kick myself in the ass and just do the things I should do? (I suppose the only way out is through. Thus, the only way to get things done is to just do it. Blasted Nike and their catch phrase!)

No, but seriously. How do you motivate yourself in the face of overwhelming tasks? Let me know in the comments.

Despicable Me

My thoughts are slippery, refusing to be pinned down. Every time I try to peer into myself head on, I catch my real feelings in my peripheral vision, already slinking back into the recesses of my secret, dark heart. When I still myself, a rising panic sits heavy in my chest; overwhelming.

I twitch.

It’s that feeling you get when you want to wail and gnash your teeth and weep but you are afraid to start. Or maybe, you do let some tears gasp out because they can no longer be contained, spillover water in a lock and key, but you don’t dare to really let it out. Even while sobbing into your hands in the nursery and your baby boy is toddling around, somewhat confused at what his mommy is doing, you don’t dare let yourself go.

What if you can’t stop? What if you cry yourself hollow? What if you cry so much that your insides are sucked out and then what are you going to do with yourself now that your insides are on the outside and your outside is stretched and gaping and loose and no longer tightly wrapped and ill-fitting and totally useless?

What are you going to do now if you are completely undone?

So you stop.

You stuff everything back into your too small chest and you wait it out. You breathe. You think of something else. You look at your baby boy and smile through the burning in your lungs. You check your phone. Facebook will rescue you. It always does.

That thick, dense boulder is no longer laying siege to your chest.

You get up and close the door.

There is a reason I keep dithering while writing this post. It’s been brewing in my psyche for months now, and coming to the forefront especially this past week.

It is an ugly thing to see your own sin laid bare.

Every so often, when we are discussing my father and my paternal grandmother, my mother mentions that my grandmother acted as if other people weren’t “people” (人家不是人). That in my grandmother’s eyes, only she and my father were “people” and everyone else was contemptible and stupid and worthy only of their disregard. And that is the reason my father never accepts responsibility for his actions, always blaming other people for “forcing” him to act in reprehensible ways. The reason why my father is always seething when other people, even his friends, succeed and surpass him. How could it be possible that people, who are so much stupider and less talented than he, have a better business/career/house/bank account/family when he is clearly far more deserving?

There is a Chinese phrase, “看不起 (kan bu qi)” which means “despise.” Literally, “can’t look upon.” Personally, I think the literal translation is far better at capturing its contempt and scorn.

“You have no idea how you sound, do you? The way you speak to me. To your mother. To your grand aunt. To my mother. To everybody. How you make everyone feel like they’re so unbelievably fucking stupid. Do you think so little of us that we can’t tell? That it isn’t obvious with every word out of your mouth? How dare you? How dare you?

I drown in shame.

When Cookie Monster was first starting to walk, he would often stumble and fall. I remember one of the first times he fell, I ran to his side and I hit the floor with my hand saying, “Bad floor! Bad floor!”

I froze.

A memory popped into my mind, crystal clear, of my grandmother doing the exact same thing when I was a child.

I never did that again.

This past week, a thought has been floating in and out of my mind. Occasionally, I catch a full glimpse of it before I banish it to the nether regions of my soul. Sometimes, I chase the thought down, trying to grasp it before it wisps out like smoke through my closing fist. Usually, I just change the song on the radio.

But it whispers back, sleek and seductive.

Other people aren’t ‘people’ to me until I hurt them.

The thought terrifies me. But it is not a surprise.

“Why are you being so mean to her? Can’t you try to imagine how she must be feeling? To meet you and Mom for the first time? As if meeting Mom weren’t intimidating enough, you’re being an asshole. Stop it. I care about her a lot. And if you’re going to be this way, I won’t want to come home anymore. So stop. Give her a chance. Be nice.”

Until that moment, I had only seen her as someone who wasn’t good enough for my brother (whatever that means and incidentally, is not true) and not as a person. Until my brother pulled me aside to rip me a new one, she wasn’t real. Only when I realized that I hurt her did I consider her a person in her own right.

This was not an isolated occurrence. To her or to other people.

Well here it is then. My not-so-secret confession: I believe that other people aren’t “people.” Only I am human. Only am a person.

At times, if I am feeling generous, I see my friends and family as extensions of myself so they are lent “person” status. Their injuries are my injuries. Their joys my joys.

But left to my default state, other people are obstacles. Roadblocks to getting what I want. If people aren’t interfering with my objectives, then I am easy going and pleasant. But as soon as we are in conflict, I suit up. And I play to win.

I get mine.

And then, if I hurt someone (as is inevitable), I am never quite sure if I feel bad because I hurt someone or because I don’t want to be seen as the type of person who hurts others.

You would think that I would at least consider my immediate family “people.” But alas, no. In true fact, I am worst to my family. After all, there are social consequences if I am a complete asshole to my friends and other people. That, at least, keeps me in check. Who, except those who have no choice, would put up with that shit from me?

It is hard to be my children. My husband. My mother. I am a hard person to be with.

I am a fucking two year old.

When I look back on my childhood memories, I have few of my mother. I’m not sure if it was because she wasn’t there, or if my father’s presence was so large, so looming, so hard, that he squeezed her out. I adored my father. His betrayal broke me. It isn’t until this past decade that I feel as if my mother has slowly, ever so slowly, emerged as a person in my mind.

The thought of this makes me weep.

I have no soft memories of my mother. No memories of her love, of her kindness. I mostly just see her, slightly out of focus, hovering in the background. Weak, unable to protect herself – let alone me. Steamrolled by my father.

You would think that now that I am a mother, I would be able to understand or empathize with my own mother better. That I would somehow grasp how my mother feels about me. How she must love me. I mean, if she loves me even a fraction of how I love my children, her love must be vast and unending. She has thirty-six years of loving me compared to my five of loving Cookie Monster. How much more must she love me.

And yet, when we fight, she is my enemy. I cannot fathom her coming at me from a place of love and concern. That she says things out of love and not as an attack.

I remember once, when I was particularly vicious, her pleading with me. Begging. Why did I think she was always attacking me? How could I even think that of her? That she only ever wanted to love me and would never dream of saying things to hurt me.

It is healing to watch her adore my children. Every now and then, it occurs to me that she must have loved me in the same way. Or at least, wanted to.

I don’t know. I can’t remember.

After witnessing years of my father crushing my mother, beating her down, I vowed to myself that I would never let anyone treat me this way. Ever.

And so, instead of turning into my mother, I am become my father.

My therapist says I do this because this was how I protected myself from my father when I was a child. That it is appropriate Hapa Papa says I “suit up” or “gear up for battle” (often with my children) because that’s what I am doing. I am putting on a suit of armor, this inability to see other people as human, in order to protect myself because no one protected me when I was small. And that this defense mechanism has worked for awhile, but now no longer fits. That I now see everyone as an enemy – even my children. That it is time to let some parts of this armor go.

I am terrified.

Jesus, have mercy.

What’s New With The Mandarin Babies?

It’s been awhile since I blathered on and on about my incredibly awesome children. I know. I apologize. There really is no excuse except that I’ve been lazy. So, for your benefit (and my pathetic memory), I give you an unspecified number of offspring anecdotes and observations to enjoy on your Monday morning. You’re welcome.

1) Gamera now hugs books to sleep. You know, as if they were stuffed animals. She also has been known to attempt “reading” them after I’ve turned off the lights. I don’t mind except that the super anal retentive part of me worries about her getting paper cuts on her face, not to mention bending or warping the books. I will not tell you which I am more concerned about. I would hate to admit that I care more about broken books than cuts to her cute little face.

2) Cookie Monster is a generous big brother to both Gamera and Glow Worm. When Gamera first started preschool, he would help her with the bathroom, washing her hands, getting her snacks, and advocating for her to the teachers. If Glow Worm is crying or wants something, Cookie Monster will bring him toys and snacks and will often try and make Glow Worm laugh. Cookie Monster has also been known to randomly hug and kiss Glow Worm and then tell me he’s being kind.

3) Glow Worm adores Cookie Monster. I’m sure he loves Gamera, too, but Cookie Monster is the one who pays him the most positive attention.

4) Speaking of Glow Worm and Gamera… Karma is awesome. There are few things Glow Worm likes better than to grab one of Gamera’s toys and run away, grinning and chuckling as Gamera runs after him, shrieking in fury, “No, no, no, Glow Worm Boy! That’s mine! Come back! That’s not kind!” In fact, the look on Glow Worm’s face is coincidentally the same look Gamera used to have when she did the same thing to Cookie Monster.

5) Gamera and Cookie Monster have Dance Offs in the family room. They will take turns playing songs on an exersaucer and then dance for each other. It is hilarious. Cookie Monster is quite the aspiring break dancer and runs and jumps and leaps and flips and is going to break something someday. He is also goofy and makes crazy faces, runs in place, and pulls his hair. Gamera lives for interpretive dance and will make flowy arm movements and twirl and lift her legs into poses and also make goofy faces. You can tell they watch a lot of So You Think You Can Dance.

Gamera and Cookie Monster dancing and goofing off.

Gamera and Cookie Monster dancing and goofing off.

More dancing

6) Cookie Monster has been greeting me with hugs and kisses and snuggles in the morning. He will come into my bed and let me cozy him for a bit. It is lovely.

7) Gamera will occasionally deign to grant me a kiss and a hug, too. She will very solemnly cup my face or wrap her arms around my neck, and then gracefully kisses me on the mouth.

8) Glow Worm is a Tyrant King. He has taken to throwing himself on the ground when he doesn’t get what he wants and screams his brains out. It is almost impossible to change his diaper now. (It is especially difficult with cloth diapers!) And for a non-talking child (who also refuses to learn signs), he is very opinionated. His mother, for one, really doesn’t understand him and must be quite stupid because she doesn’t carry out his demands at all. You just can’t pay enough for good help these days.

Glow Worm throwing himself to the floor.

Glow Worm throwing himself to the floor.

Glow Worm protesting my utter inability to follow his instructions.

Glow Worm protesting my utter inability to follow his instructions.

9) Cookie Monster is just such a silly boy.

Cookie Monster making a silly pose

Cookie Monster making a silly pose

10) Gamera turned three recently. I find it so strange because she seems to be so much more mature than she is and I feel as if she has been three for a very long time and perhaps should be turning five. How is it possible that she is ONLY just now, turning three?

Happy 3, Gamera!

Happy 3, Gamera!

11) Cookie Monster sweats when he plays Halo 3 with Hapa Papa. His hair gets all wet and sweaty and sticky. Ridiculous.

Playing Halo 3 with Hapa Papa

Playing Halo 3 with Hapa Papa

12) I recently taught Cookie Monster how to play the card game, War, and he really enjoys it. Unless he is losing. Then he weeps. He is very sensitive to losing lately. I try not to cheat on his behalf too much, but sometimes, I do because I can’t stand anymore crying. But mostly, I tell him that part of playing games is losing and that if he is going to cry all the time about it, then we won’t play anymore. He also cries when Hapa Papa beats him at Halo.

13) Gamera is super protective of Cookie Monster. When Hapa Papa beats Cookie Monster at Halo, she will yell at him to stop and scold him, saying, “That’s not kind!”

14) Gamera also adores Cookie Monster. They are still such good buddies and playmates.

15) At school, Gamera clearly has everyone wrapped around her little finger. Not only does Cookie Monster help her with things, one of her teachers will braid her hair into “Anna braids” (from Frozen) or “Elsa braids.” Another time, a little boy ran over and gave her a doll. Gamera looked at the doll, shook her head, and threw it to the floor. The boy immediately ran and got her another doll. This time, she hugged the doll and nodded her approval. I fear for whoever loves my daughter.

16) Glow Worm has started earlier than his siblings and now only wants to eat snacks. Regular meals, nope. But snacks, especially cinnamon rice puff cereal? YES.

17) I really didn’t expect my children to be so different from one another. So it constantly surprises me when Glow Worm has a fever for a week every time he teethes (neither of his older siblings had much of a problem with teething) and then he is super cranky and only wants to nurse. Turns out it is because he always ends up having three teeth coming in at the same time. Recently, it was three molars. And after those popped through, the fourth one started coming. I would be cranky, too.

Also, my other two kids never demanded milk from me. Glow Worm full on tugs on my shirt, or walks and points to the nursing chair in his room, or screams at me until I shove a boob in his mouth.

18) Speaking of which, Glow Worm is really smart. Not that I’m biased. But whenever I take him out the crib, he immediately directs me to turn off the sound machine, turn off the fan, and then sit down to nurse him. I guess he figured it out after I did that after every single sleeping session.

19) When Gamera turned two, we totally failed at weaning her from sucking on her left index finger. I didn’t anticipate a problem because I weaned Cookie Monster from sucking his thumb in three days. Gamera would just switch fingers on me. When I figured that out, she would power through and suck until the bitter stuff I put on her finger either overwhelmed her senses or she sucked it off entirely. So, I gave up and since the dentist said it wasn’t affecting her teeth, I waited to try again until her third birthday.

We warned her over and over that she would no longer be able to suck on her finger after her birthday party. She knew and was anticipating it and seemed ok with the decision. This time, I put the bitter polish on all her fingers, just in case. I found her wiping her tongue off on her shirt in her sleep last night because she sucked on her finger. It was hilarious. She did that again this morning. But it seems like she is powering through again. WHY IS SHE SO STUBBORN?

Alrighty. I think that is quite enough for now, yeah? Gotta save some stories for my annual Christmas newsletter. Thanks for reading about my awesome children. Try not to be too envious of me. They’re mine and not for sale.

Eating Elephants and Other Unappetizing Things

One of the hardest things about being a Stay At Home Mom, for me, anyway, is that I seem to do a lot but get nowhere fast. I don’t mean that I procrastinate a lot and pass that off as working. (Although, there is that, too.) It’s just that, no matter what I do, it seems as if I have made zero progress. Or if I do make any progress, it is quickly eclipsed and things either go back to the way they were, or worse. (Also, I am sure working moms and parents can equally relate – it’s just that I feel they have a better excuse for the house being a mess or laundry not being done. After all – they’re out working. I’m at home most of the day so shouldn’t I be able to get more done?)

Even though this summer was a lot of fun with our Taiwan Trip, Disneyland, and my Atlanta trip, it threw me off my schedule (okokok, it’s not like I was amazing with keeping this schedule anyway, but it was still passable) and as a result, my house was a disaster. All the detritus from daily living, school, art projects, junk mail, medical bills, etc. would make the flow from outside to our kitchen table to a bag/box swept into the laundry room or hall closet and forgotten about.

Then there was actually cleaning the house so that the bathrooms didn’t resemble a science experiment, the floors and carpets weren’t gravelly from food and crumbs, and the kitchen was not a biohazard waste site. On top of that, apparently my children have to eat and excrete multiple times a day, bathe, and wear reasonably clean clothes. (And what the heck, man? Not only are there diapers to wash, a family of five can generate loads of laundry in a matter of minutes. And then, the laundry does naughty things and spawns babies. Totally irresponsible.)

Then, there are the things that I would like to accomplish outside of maintaining a home. You know, blog, read, be someone other than a professional caretaker to three tyrannical children. Oh, and perhaps Hapa Papa would like some time to be a human, too. (Oh, who are we kidding? We all know the poor man never gets any time to himself unless he’s “on vacation.” Which he is. Right now. Until late tomorrow night. Lucky bastard.)

Yes, yes. There are things I can do to make my life easier. For instance, I could hire help with either the house cleaning or my children. Unfortunately, I used to have a house cleaner and I realized that I hated it. I turned hyper critical and would find fault in everything. Not to the cleaners’ faces. But after they left, I would be annoyed and the smell of all their cleaning products would permeate the house. Even if I gave them organic cleaning materials, I was never sure they used it correctly or at all. Plus, just trying to work everything into my schedules with the kids’ school and classes – AGH. Perhaps it was that particular cleaner, but needless to say, I was much happier when we stopped. Now if something is not to my satisfaction, I only have myself to blame. Plus, it saves me money.

As for hiring someone to watch my children, that seems ridiculous since I’m the one staying at home. After all, that was the whole point of me no longer working. (And truthfully, I don’t want to work anyway so we can save that particular joy for Hapa Papa.) And yes, I know this is totally a first world problem but again, it is still my problem.

Anyhow, my whole point with this rambling post is that at the end of the day, even though I have cooked, cleaned, and kept three small humans alive, it feels as if I’m just treading water. Barely keeping my place and most likely, losing ground.

Last week, I spent at least three or four hours finally digging out my kitchen table from under three feet of stuff. Then I spent a few more hours clearing out my hall closet and laundry room. It has been less than a week. My kitchen table is already half buried again. My laundry room and hall closet are still holding steady, but I don’t expect it to last. Why? I have guests coming over tomorrow and a birthday party at my house Saturday. Everything that is currently on my table will make a quick escape to the laundry room. I would be more bummed, but why get sad over the inevitable?

It is times like these that I am particularly comforted by the book, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen Norris. I have mentioned this book many times in the past, but it bears repeating.

I am reminded that the daily drudgery of cooking, cleaning, and caring for people is a holy endeavor. That I am not merely Sisyphus, continually rolling a boulder up a mountain only to have it tumble back down before it reaches the peak. That I am actually performing acts of prayer, worship, and transformative love. That what seems dreary and horrible is life-giving and beautiful.

I’m having trouble ending posts lately. We’ll just leave it at that. Be blessed, friends.

Grieving The Living

The trouble with grief is that it sidelines you at the oddest moments. You think you’re having a normal Monday night decompressing after the children have gone to bed and you click on a friend’s latest blog post about mourning the third anniversary of her father’s passing. At most, you expect to tear up and be moved by a post of this nature. After all, you’re not a robot. You care about your friend and her words. You can understand a person’s grief at the loss of her father even if your own is still alive.

And yet, what ends up happening is you not being able to finish the article without sobbing your brains out for a few minutes, chest heaving, gut clenching, heart aching.

I was surprised.

Let me clarify. I am aware of how grief works. That when you lose someone, sorrow and pain and loss can creep up on a person and stab you in the sides, catching you unaware. A random song on the radio or joke or a smell triggering a memory. A situation with your children reminding you of your own childhood. So, in the sense that I expected heartache to strike during unexpected moments, I wasn’t surprised at all. However, theory and practice are altogether different animals.

As many of you know, my father and I are estranged. I have not spoken or contacted him in three years. He has never met Gamera or Glow Worm and as far as I can predict or control, he will never do so.

He will never know the singular joy of being a grandfather to my beloved babies. He will never play and laugh and joke with my beautiful, silly children. He will never cuddle and cozy and tell stories and pass on his life experiences. He will never know. And I don’t know what is sadder to me: that he will never know these things, or that he doesn’t even care that he’s missing them.

I am angry.

Angry that my children will never know the comfort and joy of having a grandfather. Angry that my kids are robbed of one more person who should be in their corner, one more support in a world that can all too easily tear down. Angry that my father has robbed not only himself, but me and my children as well.

I am angry that I am still so, so sad. That my grief, which is normally dormant, has come to the fore, all hot and wet and full of snot.

I am angry that even years later, I feel as if my heart has been ripped from my chest, luridly beating, pumping out my life’s blood.

I am angry for all that could be, all that will never, and all that was.

I am angry that my father’s abuse and actions reverberate from my history into my present and my children’s future.

I am angry that I miss my daddy and that I still love him and that he still has the power to make me weep.

I am angry that all my tears are wasted on a man who has thrown us all away, like a pair of old, broken shoes.

I am so angry. And so very sad. And I can’t seem to stop crying.

That is all for tonight. Thank you for reading.

Did Our Parents Freak Out, Too?

So, ever since I became a parent, it has amazed me that my parents – particularly my mother, did all the activities that they did with us. We went cherry-picking, went to Taiwan, went on tons of trips to national parks in CA and the western half of the US, had tons of lessons, etc. – and all BEFORE the internet with English as their second language. I don’t know how they did it.

I’m taking the kids to Taiwan in exactly two weeks and I’m terrified. I’m going to a place where though I am fluent enough in speaking, I am functionally illiterate (unless you think having a first grade reading vocabulary is impressive). I will have three small kids under 5 – two of whom have food allergies – mostly by myself. My mom is going with us for a week so we can visit family, and Hapa Papa will be going the last week, but for about 3-4 weeks, it’s my one adult against three. My good friend with her three kids are also going to be with us, but the ratio of adult:children will still be the same.

We are going to be outnumbered. In a foreign country. I am terrified.

I know we’ll be fine. It’s just that I’ve never done this before on this scale and it’s a bit overwhelming to think of all the stuff I have to get ready and then do. I am comforted by the fact that even though I’ll be sticking Cookie Monster and Gamera in a Taiwanese preschool all day, five days a week for four weeks, (this is WAY more school than they are doing now), kids are resilient and they’ll be fine. My friend is doing the same with her older two kids (our kids will be in the same classes), and we will each have our youngest babies with us all day to eat and play through Taipei. My mouth is already salivating in anticipation.

We rented a nice apartment through airbnb.com and I am very excited to pretend to be a grown up and fake living in Taipei for five weeks. I have to tell myself it will be fine. The things I do for Mandarin Immersion. (The kicker? After paying about $10k for the trip and related expenses such as food, lodging, and tuition, my children will be getting two hours of English instruction and European history every morning at this school. Irony, you bastard!)

I WILL BE FINE.

But whenever these types of events occur to me, I always wonder if my parents felt the same way when they confronted new or tough situations. They always seemed as if they had their shit together. (Other than the marriage bit, but even then, it was my normal so I guess I thought they knew what they were doing.)

I mean, my mom pretty much raised my brother and I as a single mom – without any help from my dad monetarily – but she had support from her family and through our church. And I suppose when you are in a crappy situation with two young children, you just have to grin and bear it and somehow get to work, provide care for your children, and get through one day at a time.

It just occurred to me that I could possibly ask my mom how she felt during this time, but that would be CRAZY. Ah well. I hope that my own kids think that I know what I’m doing and that they can’t smell fear. When they’re older with kids of their own, I can tell them that I was terrified and didn’t know what I was doing. They better tell me they had no idea.

What about you? Do you plan things for yourself or your family that you’re terrified of but still really want to do? How do you deal with it? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments.

Pants on Fire

I have a general rule that I will not lie to my kids – even white lies, lies of convenience, or statements to make my life easier. I do teach my kids about God and Jesus, so depending on your philosophical bent, that may or may not count as a lie. But since I do believe in God and Jesus, at least I am not technically lying to the kids (or at least, intentionally). The main reason I don’t, even when it would make my life considerably better, is because it breaks trust. And once my kids catch me in a lie (and they will!), they will start questioning everything I have ever told them in the past because hey, if I lied about this, what was stopping me from lying to them about that?

I even include Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. (At least it cuts down on fictional gifts I have to purchase!) I know. I’m such a killjoy. But Santa is an old white dude who rewards you for being good on Jesus’s birthday – and it sounds a lot like the stereotypical view of who God is – so no thanks! Now, my kids know ABOUT Santa. But they just think he’s in a costume. Like Spiderman. Plus, it is much easier to explain all the Santas that crop up during Christmas time.

In fact, not only do I try not to lie to my children, I try not to lie in general. After all, what’s the point of telling my kids not to lie, not lying to my kids, etc., if they just hear me telling people lies (white or otherwise) just to make my life easier? Of course, I have no problem lying via omission. For instance, someone brings a food that is not delicious. I won’t say that the food is yummy. But I will thank them for bringing the food or comment on the plate that the food is on, or whatever. I will try to say true things in as kind a way as possible without outright lying. Hopefully, my kids will absorb this lesson without me having to explicitly tell them not to lie. Aren’t the most important lessons in life learned this way?

I find that the temptation to lie is similar to the temptation to deflect all the questions my kids have about their bodies or stuff in general. I am very honest with the kids about their body parts and I have no qualms about Hapa Papa or my nakedness around the kids. This, of course, leads to some very awkward and hilarious conversations. I’ve had to explain to Cookie Monster why his penis gets big, what pubic hair is, what a vagina is, etc. My reward for all my non-euphamizing are these types of conversations (FB friends will recognize a good many of these stories):

1) Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! 
Hapa Papa: Papa just has a penis.
Cookie MonsterGamera has a gagina!
Hapa Papa: Yes, Gamera has a gagina. Cookie Monster has a penis.
Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! HAHAHAHAAHAHAH!

2) After a month or so, we finally figured out why Cookie Monster thought Hapa Papa had a vagina and a penis. He thought the pubic hair was the vagina. He also pointed at Hapa Papa’s face and said, “Gina face! Gina mouth!”

3) Gamera: My penis hurts, Mom. 
Me: You don’t have a penis, honey. You have a vagina. 
Gamera: My ‘gina hurts, Mom. My penis fell off.

Anyway, this post isn’t to make you feel bad or judged if you do teach your kids about Santa or The Easter Bunny or even if you tell your kids or other people white lies. This is just my personal policy. I think it comes from my traumatic upbringing of constantly swallowing my father’s numerous lies in addition to reinforcing his lies with lies of our own (many at my mother’s behest). My father wasn’t even a very good liar – that’s how insulting he was. He didn’t even think enough of us to lie properly and NOT get caught. He just thought we were too stupid to catch him.

Of course, telling the truth is not the same as being blunt or using the truth to bludgeon people. (Although, incredibly tempting.) I suppose the key to this is to tell the truth in love. (Often, an incredibly difficult task.) It helps that I don’t really have a good filter when I talk to people so I am usually a little too honest in general. It also helps that many of my friends also consciously choose not to lie to their kids so we can support one another. I’m curious. Do you lie to your kids? If so, what do you lie to your kids about? Tell me in the comments.