Parenting my oldest has stretched me as a person, challenging everything that I thought I knew about parenthood and reshaping all of my preconceived notions around this sweet and sassy girl.
It has, for me, been a lesson in grace, “the sacred labor of shaping a spirited soul without breaking it.”*
But it has also been an excercise in creativity, fast-thinking, and honing razor sharp reflexes. Not just because of the amount of times I’ve had to dive across a piece of furniture and catch her by the ankle before she threw herself off something while attempting some sort of aerial gymnastics but because mentally she’s a sly one, my Scarlette.
In our house the kindle is currency. My child regards screen time in the same way that Gollum regards The Ring. She’s all “MY PRECIOUS” whenever her access to the hot pink handheld device is granted. Apparently some app that lets you design new hairstyles and outfits for yourself is outrageously fun. I intrinsically understand this because of my deep love of Fashion Plates circa the 90s.
So when my daughter lied to me, a small and insignificant lie but a falsehood nonetheless, I took away her kindle time for the day. Because if I can’t trust you to tell me the truth, you can’t be trusted with technology, that’s my motto.
(Just kidding, that’s not my motto. I just made that up right this very second but I thought it made me sound very poised and parental.)
My husband was downstairs working so I popped my head in to fill in him on the consequence, on account of how certain someones in our house still have not yet learned that Mommy and Daddy are on to their attempts to sway us separately.
(It will not work! We will not be broken!)
“I hate hearing her cry but I know that she knows she was being blatantly deceitful,” I told him and he agreed, we’d both enforce the punishment.
I went back to what I was doing.
I heard her creep into his office and recount her sadness to him.
“I agree with Mommy,” he told her.
I overheard him sharing about why it’s important to be trustworthy and turned my attention to the baby, who was covered from head to toe in avocado. This is probably the real secret to why baby skin is so smooth, because Ridley basically gives himself a facial with fresh fruit and vegetables every single time he eats.
Later, Scarlette came bounding up the stairs with great enthusiasm.
“Mommy! Daddy said I could watch the special show tonight!” she told me.
Which caught me a little off-guard, because usually the special show is, as the name suggests, reserved for special occassions and also kind of unspokenly bundled-in with kindle time.
She tailed me downstairs as I double-checked with my husband. “Hey, did you tell Scarlette she could watch the special show tonight?” I asked him, because that seemed a bit off from our usual methods.
“No,” he answered.
“Yes you DID, Daddy!” she insisted, “Yes you did say I could when I ask-ed while you were working and you wave-ed at me and said ‘sure, okay.'”
And then we realized what had happened there, which is that sometimes if you ask my husband a question when he is entirely distracted he will just say yes without actually hearing what you said. Which is the story of how I ended up with the beautiful set of orange and pink tapestry curtains from Anthropologie, because I asked him about them while he was playing a video game.
(I’m not saying I’m proud of it, I’m just saying my bathroom looks amazing.)
So then my husband was like, “Well, so, I did say yes. I think we should let her do it.”
And I was all, “I don’t know. This whole thing feels a bit tricky to me.”
In the end my husband swayed me and when we called Scarlette in to tell her that she could, indeed watch the show the following happened, almost as though in slow motion:
She threw her hands in the air and yelled, “YAY! A special show is even BETTER than kindle time!”
She turned and started skipping (SKIPPING, Y’ALL) out of the room and cheerfully exclaimed as she went, “Well, I just thought to myself, ‘Scarlette, if you can’t have the kindle then you should try to get a special show and it actually work-ed!'”
And that is when I turned to my husband and said to him, “You, sir, just got played.”
So what I did was, I let her watch the special show.
But I made her watch the episode about The Boy Who Cries Wolf.
Because you can’t play a player.
She came running in and said “Mommy! If you want to know this, the boy is LYING. And that is what I did! Can you even believe-ed that?!”
And I was all, “That is SUCH a coincidence! Did you learn a lesson from that?”
And then she said very somberly, “YES. If you see a wolf, no one will even believe-ed you.”
Parenting, like a boss.
*excerpted from Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected