I have mastered “because I said so” parenting. This was repeatedly on display this weekend during a family trip to Sea World.
My kids are at the “I didn’t do it stage.” Nothing drives me crazier than my daughter saying that she never got out the markers as her hands appear permanently stained in an uneven combination of orange, green, purple and dirt.
I expect honesty from my kids – because I said so. In typical Good-Bad Dad form, I demand one thing and do another.
Just like my children, I lie about little things frequently. I call these little white lies my “Kid-Fibs” – ways to hide the whole truth when the bit of dishonesty feeds the efficiency required of my fast-paced, Good-Bad Dad life.
I can think of several such weekend Kid-Fibs:
Weekend Kid-Fib #1: The time to get there (or back home) is twice as long as would be expected.
The drive from my house to Sea World is about two hours. I know exactly how to answer the dreaded, “When will we be there” question to my impatient daughter – it will take four hours.
If my 10 year-old calls me on the fib, I’ll claim to be incorporating traffic and the very real potential of getting lost.
This innocent lie also provides me the opportunity to over-deliver – arriving on-time by normal standards but early by my Kid-Fib.
In doing so, I get another bonus – the ability to quote Clark Griswold by saying, “Well gang, at least we made good time!”
Weekend Kid-Fib #2: “You have to stay in the van while I check in – my reservation is for four.”
My kids are forbidden from being part of my checking-in process at any hotel. They are, in fact, stowaways.
Never is having a large family as inconvenient as when searching for lodging. I’ve learned that there is no chance of entering my entire family into a hotel search and returning an affordable match.
My kids are too small for their own room so I really have no choice but to lie. This Kid-Fib is born out of necessity – at least that’s my story.
Weekend Kid-Fib #3: “If anyone asks your age, you say two.”
Turning 3 years-old ends the free ride for little ones. All is not lost for me, however, these toddler’s carry no I.D.
I plan to hold onto the pre-three benefit for as long as possible – particularly when the cost of telling the whole truth is steep.
My rule of thumb is that if my kid is “comfortably carry-able” then they pass as two. If you have to strain to wear your kid on your shoulder through the turnstile at the park’s entrance, you’re paying.
From the straining through the turnstile point forward, the freebies are as gone as a free Friday night or a quick nine on Saturday afternoon.
Weekend Kid-Fib #4: If you’re close to the “ride or not” height, subtly use tippy-toes.
My oldest loves roller-coasters but is about 54 inches tall – very close to the mythical height of entry for most major rides.
If my son stands at or near the line with minimal risk of danger detected, I’ll share some tricks with him for an assured admission. I’d tell him to make sure that he stands completely straight – even a slight, subtle tip-toed stance should work.
I’m okay with the risk – I have it on good honor that these thresholds are actually set lower than any “real” safety mandate. Never mind the fact that my source of good honor is the 16 year-old kid sweeping up popcorn nearby.
Weekend Kid-Fib #5: Time to go, the park is closing.
Leaving the amusement park is a nightmare. My kids’ exhaustion will not prevent the impending storm of tears that hits as I say that it’s time to head home.
I have learned to pre-empt the tantrum by claiming the park is about to close – that we have to go.
This strategy only now works for my youngest three – my two older boys are onto me. My boys have experienced this Kid-Fib before.
They won’t give me up, though. My boys understand the dad-rage that will follow if they call my bluff.
A wink or pat on the back is usually sufficient to bring them on-board with my lie. The feeling of comradery with me outweighs the need to enforce my “always be honest” rule of thumb.
These little hypocrisies differentiate me as a Good-Bad Dad. As time passes, the Kid-Fibs get more elaborate while the premise remains the same – walking the thin line between stretching the truth and outright lying in the name of order. My kids and I have each managed to master this tight-rope act for different reasons.
My children do so to avoid punishment.
I do so to keep my sanity through my daily chaos – or because I said so.