Yesterday at bedtime, I tried on one of my daughter’s pink plastic tiaras. I would say it was because my hands were full and my head was just a convenient way to carry the tiara, but that would be a lie. I really just wanted to see what I looked like with a tiara on. And I will have you know I looked hot. Regal, even. So I sat in the bathroom, wearing the tiara while my kids brushed their teeth, and debated with my son about whether or not I was actually a queen.
Me: “I mean, I could be a queen, right? And just not know it?”
J: “You are not a queen, because queens don’t do anything except wear a crown and sit on a throne and boss people around.”
I pointed out that at that exact moment I was wearing a tiara, sitting on the toilet (sitting, not going – even I have my limits), and yelling at people to brush their teeth. As this information sunk in, both J and L got very quiet and stared at me for a few seconds. Now I think they’re wondering whether I’m really a queen and what’s in it for them.
Someday soon my kids will discover that I am not royalty and that, instead, I am just a liar. But aren’t all parents? For example, this week my son has two wiggly teeth and lots of questions about the tooth fairy. Every word that comes out of my mouth in these discussions is a huge, elaborate lie. But they are lies that I learned from my own parents that I have perfected with details I’ve learned from my parent friends. We are a multi-generation community of liars, who regularly tell our kids never to lie. Awesome.
I’m not psyched about my kids discovering that I am a big, fat liar, but I kind of can’t wait for the day when my son figures out that I have totally lied about the lyrics to a bunch of his favorite songs. Some day he will realize that Psy does not sing about a woman playing the saxophone in Gangnam Style (“Hey, saxy lady!”). And that Kings of Leon is not singing that someone’s socks are on fire (“Heeeeeeeeey, your sock is on fiiiiire!”). And that Matt Nathanson’s song “Come On Get Higher” is not about someone flying in an airplane. And that shopping at a Thrift Shop is not “really” awesome. Nope, it’s fucking awesome.
When I was my son’s age, I was obsessed with the song “Just the Two of Us,” which always made my parents giggle and I never understood why. In my 6-year-old mind, the song was about two friends who enjoyed spending time together. So imagine my surprise when, years later, I realized the song was about two REALLY good friends who LOVED spending time together, ifyaknowwhatimean, probably while naked and in a hot tub with mood lighting and essential oils. Why did my parents not just turn off the radio (or 8-track or phonograph or whatever the hell they used back then)? Why did they let me just believe that this was a sweet, innocent song about buddies?
I will tell you why: because it bought them three or four minutes of peace and quiet, and it made me smile. String together enough of those moments and you’ve got a pretty sweet day with your kids. Who cares if it involves a little lying on your part. That just means that you care equally about your own sanity and your kids’ short-term happiness.
And that is what I call balance.