Well, Readers, we have hit the quarter-century mark. That's right, with the addition of two more Loyal Readers, Risa "Why Does Blogger Hate Me?" Levi (although she outsmarted them, in the end, oh yes!) and Arica "Factor" Saltzman (whose blog you can follow here) we have reached TWENTY-FIVE Loyal Readers! Celebration time! Get on your party hats with those painful rubber band choke-you-to-death straps and one of those toys that you blow and it unfurls (what are they called?) and grab a melted cheese and ketchup sandwich! Party on! Thanks to all of you! Ad Meah V'Esrim! (Readers, that is, not years.)
Wait...what was that? What about Rachel? No, no, Rachel has not yet become a Loyal Reader. Oh, you thought she would have joined by now? Because I wrote an entire post in her honor? (One of my better ones, if I do say so myself). I was going to offer 100 NPs to whomever could get Rachel to join, but then I realized that she does not respond to peer pressure, so instead, I am offering 100 NPs to whomever does NOT convince Rachel to join the Loyal Readers' Club. Everyone clear on that?
Today we celebrated Ariella's sixth birthday. Before I bore you with the details of the party, the highlight of which was the beautiful, delicious, white-layer-cake-with-pink-icing (and yes, I made both the cake and the icing MYSELF), sprinkled generously with colorful candy sprinkles, allow me to digress and delve into another chapter in my book on child-rearing, "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper."
This chapter is entitled, "Lying to Your Kids: Most of The Time It's a Great Idea, But Sometimes It's Just Wrong."
In preparation for her upcoming birthday, Ariella's teeth decided they better get cracking. (Well, they kind of did that already. We are now post our traumatic cavity-filling incidents. Yes, I did use the plural. Not sure who was more traumatized, Ariella or me. Actually, I do know who.) So, I guess the teeth decided they better get jiggly. Yes, folks, two days ago we noticed Ariella's first loose tooth! Or, in the immortal words of Stan and Jan Berenstain, "looth tooth." (Thanks to DADZ for dredging up that memory.) It's one of the front bottom ones, for those of you with your mouth diagram handy who want to keep track. Ariella and I talked for a few minutes about all things teeth - does it hurt, when will more get loose, what happens if I lose it at school, etc. - when suddenly Ariella starting espousing Tooth Fairy Lore. "You know, you put it under your pillow and then I think someone comes and takes it and gives you money." She seemed vaguely troubled by this. I had a decision to make at this point. I could, like good mothers having been doing for centuries, further immerse her in the Myth of the Tooth Fairy. Or, I could tell her the truth. It took me about half a second to decide. (After all, this is a kid who already knows that the way babies get in and out has nothing to do with a stork.) So I went for it.
"You know, Ariella, it's just your mom or dad who comes and gives you money."
"Okay," she said, completely unperturbed, "but what do I need money for? I can't even drive!" Not entirely sure of the connection, but I did tell her she could save up her tooth money and buy a treat. Like her mommy, Ariella LOVES treats.
So, readers, Loyal and otherwise (you know who I'm talking about), am I a bad mother? And I am referring here to this specific episode of parenting. Please don't allow past episodes of bad parenting to factor in to your decision. Should I have allowed, nay, helped her to create a fantasy about Fairies coming in to your room and replacing your tooth with a shekel? In my defense, I didn't want her to start worrying about someone creeping into her room at night and messing around with her pillow. Also, she wasn't so deep into the lore yet to be devastated upon finding out the truth. It was only something she had kinda sorta heard about. On the other hand, did I deprive her of a necessary rite of passage, in which she believes in the magical Tooth Fairy for years, only to later find out the truth and then resent me for lying to her?
In my defense again (I get lots of defenses; that's the privilege of a blog), let me tell you a true Leibtag story about a child who was lied to for years and years and is still traumatized to this day: (Leezy, you may want to stop reading now.)
When we were all little, my parents won a trip to Disney World. I think the story is something like my grandparents actually won the trip in a shul raffle, but had just come back from a vacation, so gave the prize to my parents. At the time, Aaron and I were little rascals, but Leezy was just a wee bairn. So my parents decided not to take her, and leave her with the babysitter for a few nights. Once she became a more cognizant child (at about 16 or 17. JUST KIDDING Leezy!) she began to ask questions about why she wasn't in any of the pictures. We told her lie after lie, thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
"You're behind the tree."
"You're behind Gila."
"You're taking the picture!"
And she believed us! [Evil cackle.]
However, then came the day - it might have been when we later took another vacation to Disney and took Leezy with us. Being six or seven at the time, she probably would have noticed had we left her behind with the babysitter. Then, we broke the news to her. This was not "another vacation to Disney," this was her "only vacation to Disney." She was devastated. More because we lied to her for so long than because she was left behind (well, I may have made that part up, but it fits better for my purposes), and she has not let us forget it to this day.
So, the point of this little digression, besides for being an opportunity to make fun of my family (albeit in a loving, affectionate way), is to emphasize the subtitle of my chapter: "Don't Lie to Your Kids. It'll Come Back to Bite You."
I mean, there are certain very acceptable and even necessary times to lie. For example, "Ice cream is a treat we have once in a while," when in fact you eat it at least three times a week after the kids go to sleep. Or, "They don't make diapers in your size anymore." Or, "Of course I'm listening."
The point is, and I promise, there is a point, buried somewhere deep inside all this inanity, that it felt wrong to take a child and purposefully create a fantasy world when there was no need, when she was perfectly happy with the idea of Mommy or Daddy administering the Magical Exchange.
Although I did tell her the next day, as visions swam before me of angry Israeli mothers, hell-bent on beating me to a chummus-y pulp, shrieking at me for destroying their child's world by telling them the Truth About the Tooth Fairy: "Um, Ariella, don't say anything about the Tooth Fairy to the other kids at gan. Their mommies and daddies might not want them to know."
Ariella cheerfully reassured me, "That's okay, Mommy, I don't even know how to say 'Tooth Fairy' in Hebrew!"
What do you think? How bad of a mother am I? And while you're at it, if you have funny Lying to Your Kid Stories, justifiable or not, let us know! It'll be good for use in my book.
I promise we will get back to the birthday party at the next post. I know you all want to hear more about the cake.
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