After a five-minute disagreement with my four-year-old on whether I should buy yet another Disney princess balloon for our home, I caved. Fine. She wants another balloon— it's $3.99 and I’m tired of explaining why we can’t buy every single thing she wants.
This is the point in “parenting” when I’m supposed to put my foot down, say no, and take her kicking and screaming out the door. Here’s the reality: I’m tired, it’s late, and I just want her to be quiet and happy. If that balloon is going to do it — so be it. Maybe it’s not the best parenting technique, but I often opt to pick and choose my battles. Tonight, she wins.
Four minutes after leaving CVS, we arrived home. As I began lugging thirty-seven bags of groceries inside, I heard a shriek next to me. She had accidentally let the balloon go. I spun around just in time to watch it float bouyantly above my head and into the sky. I took a deep breath and prepared for what was about to happen…
Uncontrollable sobbing. I swept her up in my arms and tried to explain it was just a balloon, it wasn’t a big deal, she would get other balloons — but nothing I could say at that moment would have calmed her down. I held her little body while she shook and drenched my shirt with her tears.
Here was another opportunity to use this event as a lesson — but instead I looked her straight in the eye and told her that the reason the balloon had flown away was because it was going to get its friends so they could surprise her tomorrow morning. She calmed down. She seemed confused. Now, I was knee-deep into my “in the moment” lie and needed to further dig myself in. The balloon missed all of its family and it was going into the sky to find them. It would return the next day with its family. Silence. This story seemed plausible; she grabbed a tissue and asked if we could now play with her Barbie’s.
I texted my husband and told him to locate five Disney princess balloons before he came home from work. Again, excellent parenting on my part.
I obviously say that with ridiculous amounts of sarcasm. I fully understand that you need to discipline your child, and that they can’t get everything, and that life is filled with disappointment. But can’t I just lie or give in every once in a while?
I call it “The Art of the Mommy Lie." Kids believe almost everything you say, so if you just slant the truth sometimes, everyone can be happy.
“Why do I have to clean up my mess?
The truth: "Taking responsibility for your actions and cleaning up after you’ve destroyed the house will make you a better, well rounded adult when you get older. It teaches you that you are responsible for what you do in your life, and by cleaning, maybe next time you won’t make such as big as a mess."
Seriously, good luck with getting that kid to clean up after that answer.
“The Art of the Mommy Lie” response: You have to clean up your mess otherwise the house will become so dirty that wild animals like deer and skunks will come in and ruin all your toys. They will take over your room and then you’ll have to sleep with a skunk at night.
See what I mean? Maybe it’s a lie, but the kid will clean her room. No harm done. What’s the difference if she thinks animals will take over her home or not? Nothing. Let’s be honest — it’s a busy, crazy world we live in and there isn’t always time to be the “perfect” parent. I call it creative parenting and to me, that’s perfect.
So next time you know you should do the “right” thing and force the child to eat the broccoli, you’ll have two choices. You can tell them that they need to eat their vegetables because it’s good for them and will help them grow (good luck with that) or you can tell them that it will give them super hero powers that allows them to fly once they turn 21-years-old. The choice is yours.
Anna Zap is the Show Morning Co-Host and Midday Personality on Connecticut radio station Star 99.9. She has performed stand-up comedy all over New York City, Westchester County and Fairfield County. Make sure to check out her obscured views of Connecticut at CTBoom.com and her adventures in motherhood at rantingsofafirsttimemommy.blogspot.com Her most important role though is as a Mommy to her beautiful three year old daughter Hayden, and wife of seven years to her college sweetheart, Paul. Together, they are making it in Fairfield County. Follow Anna on Twitter @AnnaZapOnAir.