What we said:
“You can go in, but you can only get your feet wet.”
What they said:
“OK – we’ll only get our feet wet.”
What actually happened:
In the past 10 years or so, I’ve seen a lot of blogging about and worrying over the concept of Santa & lying to our kids. I can honestly say that I had never thought of it that way, or heard anyone else talk about in my life before recently. And honestly? I just don’t get it. I mean, if your child grows up and hates you for “lying” to them about Santa – and in the process giving them loads of presents? Your kid is an asshole. And you might just be an asshole to have raised such an asshole.
Don’t get me wrong – to each his own. If you want to do the Santa thing, fine. If you don’t, fine. But the idea that doing it is going to damage your child or make them not trust you because you lied to them is completely bizarre to me. I can’t help but to think this is borrowing problems. I mean – there are plenty of real, honest to goodness problems that we can worry about. This? Just seems like a whole lot of silliness to me.
I have only had one child so far that made the transition from believing to not believing. But based on that one child, I have determined that I most definitely did NOT damage him in any way by allowing him to believe in Santa. When he came to me (older than many are when they stop believing) and asked me for the truth, I’ll admit it – it broke my heart. Previously, I used the “what do YOU think?” answer, but that last time, I knew. I knew that he knew, but was wishing otherwise. I knew it was time. And even though he knew, he was still disappointed. He cried. But not because I had been lying to him for years. Because he felt sad that he was moving on. Sad that some of the magic was being let out of his life. But not for one minute did he even think that I was wrong for “lying” to him (and I asked him about it some time later because of this nonsense).
When I was about five or six years old, I was lying awake one Christmas Eve, too excited to sleep. And I heard my mom on the phone with Aunt Twin. I will always remember what it felt like to hear those words: “Ray is putting together Gina’s Barbie Townhouse.” And at that moment, I knew. I spent the rest of my childhood not believing. And you know what? That was sad.
I never told my parents I heard – I was afraid I’d get in trouble for being awake that late, so for years they thought I believed when I didn’t. The Christmas season was stressful for me. Adults always like to ask kids about Santa – Is he coming? What is he bringing? Have you seen him yet? And every one of those questions made me feel awful. And Christmas mornings? Oh MAN, they were tough. My parents could never understand why I didn’t jump excitedly out of bed like most kids. They would have to wake me up and practically drag me downstairs.
I know that many of these issues come from the pretending, rather than the lack of Santa, but not all. I was disappointed that he wasn’t real. And I always felt a little left out of the excitement and anticipation that the other kids felt about Santa. The fact is (for me at least) a Christmas without Santa is a Christmas without magic. And I like my Christmases magical.
And now I want my kids’ Christmases to be magical. So I’m going to go ahead and be a big liar. My kids will thank me for it.
The Boy: Are we going to Kennywood on community day?
Me: No, because we are going next week for your band day.
The Boy: what day?
Me: The 19th.
The Boy: OK
A couple days later…
The Boy: What day did you say we were going to Kennywood?
Me: The 19th.
The Boy: I think it changed.
Me: Yeah – it changed TO the 19th.
The Boy: No – I think it’s another day.
Me: I’m pretty sure it’s the 19th.
A couple days after that…
The Boy: Kennywood isn’t the 19th.
Me: Yes it is. I checked after we talked about it.
The Boy: No it isn’t.
Me: Yes, it is.
Two days ago…
The Boy: So and So’s (band friend) pool party is the 19th.
Me: It can’t be – Kennywood is the 19th.
The Boy: I told you – Kennywood got changed. It’s the next day, AFTER the pool party! Even Mr. K. said so! (this said in full-on DUH tone)
Me: Dude – I checked again last night – I have an email for the band boosters saying that Kennywood is the 19th!
The Boy: MOOOOOM! It’s NOT! It’s the NEXT DAY!!
Me: Whatever. I’ll have to email them again and find out for sure.
The Boy: WhatEVER!
Me: Hey – I checked with the boosters and Kennywood is definitely on the 19th.
The Boy: I knooooow – that’s what I told you!!!!
Me: WHAT? You argued with me for days about how it was the 20th and it got changed and the pool party was the 19th and how I’m wrong and blah blah blah!
The Boy: MOM! I SAID IT WAS THE 19th!! And YOU said it wasn’t. I can’t believe this!
Me: I WHAT? YOU WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
The Boy: You just always have to be right.
Me: AARRGGHHLLLFFFMMMPPPCCHHHKKLLLRRRTTMMFFPPHHH! Thud.
Things I learned on vacation:
1. There are few places that highlight the fact that Kids Are Evil as effectively as a cramped hotel room.
2. Car trips will henceforth require the wearing of compression stockings. Every time I drive on a long trip, my right knee hurts and my lower leg gets a little tight and swell-y. The other option would be to let mr b drive more but here’s the thing about that – mr b is Captain Sleepy. I’d have 16 nervous breakdowns per hour if I let him drive. So compression stockings it is. This saddens me, because it makes me feel old and broken and maybe I should just go out and get myself a babushka and some depends to go with my support hose.
3. My kids will fight about ANYTHING. Dear God, the stupid fights. I swear to you, the biggest fight of the week was over a turkey sandwich. Followed closely by a fight about cheese fry sharing etiquette. I was also lucky enough to witness fights over sand, beds, sand IN beds, whose hacky sack was whose, which beach ball was better, which beach ball Mr. Pants (our 16 month old cousin who stayed with us along with his mom – my cousin Lala) liked better, whose faceplant was funnier, ice cream, who messed up the Snoopy tattoo, television, Don’t Touch Me, who farted, who moved my shoes, and HE’S TOUCHING ME! Good times.
4. Diabetics should not walk on hot sand without shoes. Ten minutes after my dad arrived, he walked on the hot sand in his bare feet and ended up with 2nd degree burns on the bottoms of his feet. It was awful – all the skin came off the bottom of his feet and sand got in them. Several trips to a doctor, a couple prescriptions, six days, a whole lot of not walking, and a shit-ton of bandages later and he’s still hurting. It sucks.
5. I really need to replace my broken camera lens before we head to the mountains next month.
6. Finney of the beach photo patrol really, REALLY needs to find another career. Of the 10 or so photos he took, exactly ALL OF THEM were blurry. And I don’t mean slightly out of focus, I mean, so blurry that you can’t tell who is in them. Normally I wouldn’t care but due to my lack of photo-taking, I was hoping for something cute.
7. I need to start way ahead of time on Halloween, since the girl – upon getting Old-Time photos taken – has decided she wants to be a fancy flapper.
8. Old-Time Photo props will be used like every other item that reaches the hands of a child – as a weapon against their sibling. Fake drinks will be “dumped” on each other’s heads. Fake guns will be used to pretend to shoot each other. And everything else will be used to generally maim.
9. On one hand, the beach can make you feel really bad about yourself. On the other hand, the beach can make you feel way better about yourself. It all depends who is on the next blanket.
Despite the hectic and sometimes stressful days and the fact that I never got to meet up with the lovely Amy (because of all the hectic), I still had a wonderful time. And I am so very happy to that we are going away again next month.
I’m planning on the next trip being more relaxing. I’m not sure why, since the kids will once again be there. Plus mr b. Plus a gang of in-laws. So I imagine it will be more of the same – lots of fun, peppered with lots of potential stabification (that’s in the ICD-9, by the way). And since I know it’s coming, I decided to make a list of things that I plan to accomplish while in NC. If I can manage these, I will consider the trip a success, despite the stress:
1. Not killing anyone. No really – did you not hear the part about the kids and the husband and the in-laws?
2. Not dying. Because we have a cabin on a mountain. Which has a deck out into the mountainous abyss. And I will be drinking heavily. And most likely being driven slowly insane by the kids. Not a good combination.
3. Mountain geocaching! I’m very excited to try out our new hobby in an incredibly beautiful setting. I need to stock up on some burgh-related items for trading.
4. Not getting killed/eaten/mauled by a bear. Why on earth would I be worried about this? Well, see my previous item : 1) Geocaching takes place in the woods, 2) Bears live in the woods, 3) I am delicious. To combat the chances of getting killed/eaten/mauled, I’ll be wearing my bells, an anti-bear helmet (which doesn’t exist in reality but in my imagination involves tin foil, hot glue and pebbles. And sometimes – disturbingly – raw meat) and a t-shirt says “I taste like shit.”
5. I also plan on making mr b build a shelter to prove his manly worth. And because of the aforementioned bears, I’ve decided that the shelter must have a security system, indoor plumbing and a chik-fil-a (I know – they aren’t open on Sunday, but he can hunt/gather me something once a week, I think). Aw, who am I kidding? I’d be dead. He’s city boy. Years ago, we rented a cabin out in the woods for a weekend, and on a walk, I picked and ate some wild blueberries. His reaction was to nearly rush me to the hospital because “OMG, those berries might be poison!” I explained that they weren’t poison berries, but delicious blueberries and I was then subjected to 45 minutes of “But how do you know?? So maybe we’ll forget about the wilderness thing and I’ll just take him along as a bear diversionary tactic.
I took The Girl somewhere super scary last night. No, not a cemetery. Nope, not a haunted house. Not a Scientology Center, either. It’s way scarier than that. Last night, I took my baby to…
Dun dun duuuuuuunnnnnhhhhhh…
My baby wants to be a cheerleader. And since I am not one to stop my kids from doing what they want (within reason), if they want to join karate, they can. If they want to put eye shadow on the dog, they can. If they want to ride the pitfall 1,000 times in a row, they can (OK, that’s just me). And by god, if they want to be a cheerleader, they can.
I’m just not cut out for this shit. I live in a small town and sports and activities in small towns are so full of strife and drama. I hate strife and drama. But for many years now, I have been sucking t up for the sake of my kids.
But this cheerleading thing has me feeling a little uncomfortable, because it’s not just a sign-up that we went to last night. It was a sign-up to try out. And that makes me a little queasy. Don’t get me wrong – I think that at a certain age, kids benefit from having to try out – they need to learn that everything can’t be handed to you. That you have to work for things. That not everyone can win. But I have a hard time believing that 5 or 6 years old is that age.
I don’t know how many girls will try out – I’ll find out next week. But I imagine it will be more than just the fifteen that will be chosen for the squad. And the thought of one (or ten or twenty) tiny little girls being devastated because they aren’t good enough breaks my heart into a million little pom-pom shaped pieces.
And one thing that is really bugging me about this is that this is the cheer squad for the midget football team, and the boy’s sign-up was at the same time. And those boys? Are signing up, versus trying out. Every one of those boys will be on the team. They might not all get to play, but they will be on the team, uniforms and banquets and parades and the whole nine yards. But the girls? Exclusive City. I don’t get it – why the double-standard?
Here’s a confession: I tried out for cheerleading back in my first year of junior high. I tried hard and worked hard and thought I had a chance because I was a good gymnast. But I didn’t make it. And I can still remember being in that gym, standing in a line as they called numbers to step forward. I can remember the feeling when my number wasn’t called. I can remember getting into my mom’s car afterward and my heart breaking, crying all the way home. I don’t want my baby’s heart to break like that.
And looking back, what I didn’t realize at the time was that my mom’s heart was probably breaking, too. And I know that if she doesn’t make it and she feels the heartbreak that I felt, mine will too. But even though I want to shield her from that, I can’t. I explained to her that not everyone will make it, including her, and yet she still wants to try. This makes me proud of her – her willingness to try. But I still hope we can avoid the broken heart. And even if we do, I know there will be other brokenhearted girls out there, and that bothers me too.
I hate that at this young, innocent age, there is something that – no matter what – will result in a sad ending and hurt feelings for some of them. I know I’m idealistic in thinking that I can protect them from that, but you can’t blame me for wanting to.
Yesterday, a friend of mine checked her 13 year old daughter’s text messages and was shocked to find some sexually explicit texts from a boy. Apparently, he had broken up with her and it started with him basically saying that he just “didn’t want a relationship”, etc, and her not really understanding why. But then he told her he would still be “friends with benefits,” but it had to be a secret – she couldn’t tell anyone. Now here is where the rest of us (not being a teenage girl in this horrible-to-girls society) start hearing the DING DING DING of warning bells going off. Because if a guy wants you to keep your relationship a secret for ANY REASON – he is not the guy for you. But she is a teenage girl, and sadly didn’t tell him to fuck off.
He went on to say that if she didn’t keep it a secret, he would “spread some dirty secret around school that will make everyone hate [her] guts.”
Next, the conversation turned to pretty sexually graphic (especially for 13-14 year olds), and included him trying to pressure her into doing things she clearly is not ready for and that her mom was shocked to read.
Delightful kid, huh?
But the big issue her (for me, at least) is not how much of an asshole this kid is (for the record – big, HUGE asshole), but why on earth would a smart, cute, nice girl like her not see how much of an asshole this kid is? And I think the answer says a lot about teenage girls (and boys).
Teen boys are desperate for sex. Teen girls are desperate for love. This is a dangerous combination. All peppered throughout this conversation was “I love you.” He said it in nearly every text. I love you babe. You can’t tell anyone about us. I love you. I’ll make everyone hate your guts. Baby, I love you. I want you to [insert city sexual act here]. I love you. And sadly, a teenage girl will rarely ever see the threats and pressure and cruelty because they are so blinded by the “I love you.”
And when she put herself down, calling herself fat and ugly, he didn’t tell her she was thin or pretty. He said “I love you.” Which translates to teenage girl speak as “You ARE fat and ugly, but I love you.” Which translates into teenage girl thoughts as “I can’t do better than this guy, so I’ll put up with anything (or DO anything) to keep him. And this makes me so sad.
This kid isn’t bright enough to even realize what he’s doing. Sure – he must know that he is being cruel to her, but I don’t think he could even begin to hatch a plan that involved answering her self-deprecating comments with I love you instead of reassurances, and yet he somehow knows to do it.
Where do boys learn it?? I might be in the dark here, but I am pretty sure there’s no Academy of Manipulation and Cruelty for Teen Boys. And actually, that idea is less offensive to me than the reality – that it comes naturally.
My own Asshole Teenage Boy Story ended OK – but only because I had luck (mine), drunkenness (his), and anger (mine) on my side. But I know that there are many, many girls who have similar stories that didn’t end so well.
Everyone’s first reaction on hearing this kind of stuff is “I’m locking up my daughter!” and understandably so. But what about our sons? Maybe because I have a son this age it hit me, but my first thought was, “I need to talk to my son about this.” We have talked to him about sex, but we need to do more. We need to teach him to be respectful and kind. No matter how uncomfortable it may be to do, we need to teach him whatever it takes so that he is never EVER that kid.