My daughter is a liar. She’s no different than anyone else, I suppose. Everybody does it. It’s like masturbation. But already I digress. Masturbation is another post altogether — likely something I’ll save for Christmas morning.

Anyhow, my daughter has begun lying in the interest of self-preservation. I’ll be in my office, laboring over the tonal strengths of verb choices when I hear the sounds of flesh sharpening flesh, which is closely followed by the guttural squeal of my two-year-old son. When I step into the next room to investigate, I find my son crying crocodile tears and my daughter playing with a toy that is suspiciously designed for not just a two-year-old, but a two-year-old boy at that.

Inquiring into the matter — a simple “What happened?” — gets the same response from my daughter every time: “Nothin’.”

I shift my interrogation tactics and ask the same question of my son, to which he responds: “Cha-ree hih meh!”

I follow up: “Charlee, did you hit him?”

She retorts: “Nope.”

This is when I ask Sam where he was hit, and he points to his face, which seems to have been branded with a stigmata in the exact shape and size of my daughter’s hand. A little more good cop/bad cop gets Charlee to fess up to the crime. Time out is assigned, as are the requisite hugs, kisses, and apologies.

I don’t mind the brawling so much, but the lying really bothers me. Lying, of course, has its place — poker, dating, magic tricks, taxes, (blogging?) — but as in so many other scenarios, the rules should not be broken until they’ve been mastered. And my daughter has little mastery over the truth. She still believes Oswald acted alone. Kids are so dumb.

Anyhow, we’ve begun discussing truth, honesty, deceit — we’ve even delved into subjectivity and the difficulty of absolutes. My wife says this is too advanced for a pre-schooler, but my daughter can already work the ipad better than all of her grandparents, so I’m gonna keep on keeping on.

The problem with encouraging kids to tell the truth is that they don’t have much of a filter. Their consciousness is directly connected to their mouths with all the censorship of a Las Vegas porn convention. Consider this disaster from a recent trek into Costco. We turned down the frozen foods aisle — it’s summer time, which means it’s fudgecicle time — and ran into a woman who was probably in her fifties. This was a large woman. Not a full-figured woman (which I happily endorse — can I get a witness, Christina Hendricks?) but an overflowing woman. A woman who punishes seams and elastic, making them work so hard for a livin’.

As this woman pushed her cart past us, Charlee gave the woman a once over, then looked at me and said, “Daddy, that woman is really fat.” Now, notice the lack of exclamation mark in that line of dialogue. Her observation was casual and matter of fact. It was not saddled with mockery or malice. It was very Dick and Jane: “See the woman. See her groceries. See her jiggly chin.” No judgment. No scorn. Just the facts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The woman looked away. Charlee didn’t offend her; rather she embarrassed her, and probably did a number on her feelings and self-worth. Certainly, I sympathized with the woman. I don’t — as a general rule — champion unnecessary suffering. But let’s put this woman’s feelings on the back burner for a moment. Clearly, my daughter has a lot to learn about decorum, but for today, let’s just bask in the rapturous glow of her dazzling honesty.

Please list your children’s lies and naked truths in the comments section. Best truth gets a Cadillac. Best lie gets a set of steak knives. Also, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE and share lest my daughter call you out in the frozen foods section of Costco.

My boy is currently two-years old, and he is every bit a two-year old. For those of you with kids, I probably don’t need to explain any further. In fact, as I type this, I can project into the future and hear you recite “The Lord’s Prayer” under your breath; similarly, I can imagine that as you read the phrase “two-year old” you heard the sounds of Waterford Crystal shattering, the blood-from-your-ears shrieking of toddler’s vocal chords, and perhaps even the soft — indeed, the ever so soft — whimpers of an adult man who is at the taut end of his rope.

For those of you without kids, the two-year-old tantrum is a sight to behold. It comes in stages. Most parents rely on the Homeland Security Advisory System to chart out the developments of a given tantrum. They rely on this for three reasons: (1) the terrorism metaphor is accurate in its comparison to two-year-olds; (2) it’s already been designed, which is convenient since most parents of two-year-olds have little to no creative energy; and (3) it is made up of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, and parents may as well multi-task and use the stages of a tantrum as a teaching tool. Here is a picture of my son ramping up for a doozy:

This, I would say, is a Threat Level Yellow, which is “Elevated” and indicative of a “Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks.” I considered posting a Threat Level Red image, but this blog is Rated PG-13, and I know that some of you, dear readers, are not yet parents, and I wouldn’t want to scare the shit out of you. Simple text may be easier to handle.

Consider this scenario: I’m at a mall. I have to buy a new set of jeans. Sam is in the dressing room with me. Nap time is creeping dangerously close. Sam tries to escape under the dressing room door. I tell him no. He screams. Actually, it’s not so much a scream as a squeal. Like a pig going to slaughter. I try to shush him, which is akin to giving him a bullhorn. I try to pick him up. He makes his body go limp. I manage to bear hug him and position him on the seat in the dressing room so that I can pull up my pants. As I’m pulling up, he leaps off the seat and makes a mad dash, military crawling underneath the door. I’m too slow to kneel down and catch him and must opt for opening the door and chasing him down the hall of dressing rooms. Never mind that I have yet to pull up my pants.  Never mind that the dressing room is unisex. Never mind that it is also packed with men and women alike — mostly women. Never mind that Sam’s deafening squeals echo off the cramped walls.

In moments like these — an honest-to-god, Threat-Level-Red moment — it’s easy for the mind to engage the negative. My thought process, which can only function in word associations at this high a stress level, goes something like this: exhaustion… frustration… forsaken… exploitation… black market… blue eyes… towhead… caucasian… big money… serenity… etc.

Of course these negative feelings diminish when the kids fall asleep and once again assume their cherubic dispositions. And while the black market fantasy makes the searing heat of the tantrums bearable, it’s probably not the healthiest coping mechanism. That said, I have begun to adopt a new coping mechanism, one which makes me feel safer and more at ease. Like many of you, I have logged on to Family Watchdog sites to educate myself on the local predators. I know their names, their faces, where they live, all that jazz. It’s easy to get carried away on those sites, to obsess and worry, and to weigh the pros and cons of automatic versus semi-automatic weapons. This, too, of course, is not the healthiest coping mechanism.

My strategy now is to time my kids’ tantrums. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. They’re not as fickle as fault lines or volcanoes. They’re more like a bad reality show — a predictable, scheduled train wreck. When they hit Threat Level Blue, I pack them into the car and march them right outside the homes of known sex offenders (the addresses are on the internet — convenient, right?). Before any of you get too excited about the notion of me chumming the predator-infested waters with my kids, please know that I’m on hand at all times — and completely ready to get all Clint Eastwood on anyone who so much as raises an eyebrow. Anyhow, the kids scream and wail and gnash their teeth and uproot vegetation — it’s beautiful. All the while I think to myself this lovely, comforting thought: “See, you son of a bitch! You don’t want any piece of my offspring.” When my kids hit Threat Level Red — usually a cat has been severely maimed by this point — I pack ’em into the car and drive home, leaving any would-be predators with a final image — one wrought with all the hell and fury of a two-year-old tantrum — that would make Attila the Hun wet himself.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE and share on Facebook, Twitter, email, all that stuff. If you don’t, I’ll drop my daughter off at your house during one of her Threat Level Yellow tantrums. Play the video and consider yourself warned!