Being a parent is about loving your child.
Nurturing them. Providing a safe place to live and food for the table. Giving them opportunities to grow, sharing in their education, teaching them values like respect and compassion.
Insert not-so-ladylike-snort here.
At least that’s what all the manuals say. Not that I’d know. They’re propping up the wobbly table in the basement at the moment.
With a few years of parenting under my belt, I’ve come to one major conclusion: parenting is all about Making Stuff Up.
As I drove our four-year-old to preschool one morning amidst a downpour, he asked, “Why does it rain?”
I sighed. Why did I give birth to the inquisitive child who wants to know everything about everything? What is with this weird obsession to understand this crazy world around him?
It’s just plain wrong.
Why couldn’t he ask me about Scooby Doo?! I have friggin’ Ph.D. in Scooby Doo!
But, alas, no. Mr. Science wants to know about the weather. So that little dial in my mind clicked back to Mr. Gordon’s seventh-grade science class in order to ascertain the proper answer.
Phrases like “barometric pressure” and “cumulonimbus clouds” popped out.
Hee-hee, I thought. Cumulonimbus is a funny word. I wonder how they came up with that one. Sounds like you have a mouth full of rocks and are trying to say, “Come, lay on my bus.”
Oh, I bet that probably means something dirty in Vegas.
A loud “MOMMY!” shouted from the backseat snapped me back from my quickly derailing thoughts and reminded me about the task at hand.
Rain. We were talking about rain.
“Well, kiddo,” I began. “When clouds get too full of water…they start to leak.”
Without missing a beat, my son responded with excitement, “Oh, so it’s like they gotta pee!”
Somewhere, Mr. Gordon’s head just exploded.
“Uh, yes. That is correct,” I answered.
He’s so gonna flunk preschool.
And then there are times you wish you could make stuff up but understand there are some things you just don’t mess with.
And that’s when it gets complicated.
“How did Jesus die?” my son asked during bedtime prayers one evening.
“He died on the cross, remember? Like the one we see at church,” I answered.
“Yeah, I know that,” Mr. Know-it-all responded. “But how did he die?”
Yikes. My brain shifted into overdrive. How do you tell a four-year-old about using spikes to stake another human being through his arms and legs to a wooden cross and leaving him to suffer a slow, agonizing and painful death?
I’m thinking the right answer here is: you don’t.
“Well, it’s a little complicated,” I said then stopped, stalling and searching for the right words and getting nothing.
OK, God, I could use a little help here. Do I say they used Super Glue or duct tape? Oh, that seems more than a little sacrilegious. He’ll be at school telling all his friends, “Hey, guess what I heard? Jesus was duct-taped to the cross! My mommy said so!”
And I’d certainly be headed for the fiery gates of hell upon my death, provided the Big Guy didn’t strike me down with a lightening bolt right then and there.
So, no. Not duct-tape.
Or Super Glue. That just seems messy.
So I just went with the truth but prettied it up as best one could, considering the situation. “They used…nails, honey.” I winced, gritted my teeth and prepared for the worst.
He sat for a moment, pondering my words and finally shook his head in acceptance.
Whew. My shoulders slumped in relief.
Thank. You. God. I could finally relax.
“Now about this Santa Claus guy….”