Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Secrets and Lies

Ryan is nearly 7 and I am still learning things about him every day. He is in the 1st grade and I am amazed at the way he has grown up this year. And then there are some ways that he has not...

As March 17th approached, Ryan became very excited. Not only was it St. Patrick's Day, but it was also our 17th wedding anniversary. And it was the day of his cousin Jack's 6th birthday party. So Ryan had a lot to look forward to that day (I don't know why our anniversary was such a big deal to him--we were planning to celebrate without him). He had learned a lot about leprechauns in class (???) and came home on the 16th and wrote a letter to a leprechaun, asking for 3 pieces of gold. He sealed it in an envelope and put it in the mailbox, with the flag up.

Mike and I had been at our bookgroup that night and around 10:30 realized that Ryan was going to wake up expecting to find gold. We talked about it--do we play along? Will he be crushed if he wakes up to the truth? Is this wrong? What do we do?? We ended up running to Safeway on the way home and bought the only "gold" candy we could find at 11:00pm--Rolos. Ryan and Eric each got 3 gold Rolos in the mailbox the next morning.

This is the point when I start to question all of my decision making and parenting skills. All along the way I could have told him that leprechauns are make-believe. I could have allowed him to find the letter in the mailbox the next morning and put the pieces together himself. We do the Santa thing, Ryan believes in the tooth fairy, but leprechauns have never been "celebrated" in our house before. And yet I went along with it, allowing him to have his fun.

During dinner on Sunday Ryan suddenly asked me if I put the gold candy in the mailbox, or if it really came from a leprechaun. I faultered. Do I perpetuate a lie? He is almost 7 years old--can he handle the disappointing truth? Maybe this is a good litmus test should the Santa question come up...I realized that I can't look my kids in the face and lie to them. I can play along with their games, but when asked a direct question I have to be honest with them. I looked at Mike for strength. He ran away like a little girl. So I gathered up all of my courage and told Ryan that yes, I did put the candy in the mailbox. He asked again, just to make sure he heard me correctly. When I answered truthfully again, he burst into tears. And ran off with Mike to be comforted.

I sat with Ryan for a long time, apologizing for hurting his feelings. I explained that he had been having fun and that I wanted to have fun with him, but I don't ever want to lie to him. He had asked me a question and I felt that I needed to be truthful. He accused me of tricking him, which I suppose in a way I did. Although I don't think he was able to put it into words, I can imagine he felt foolish for ever believing in leprechauns. And I felt terrible that I did something that made him feel that way. It was a tough love moment. If I had to do it again, I'm not sure what I would change. All I could do was apologize for making a mistake and for hurting his feelings. Now I live in fear--what if he actually asks about Santa?! I may have to take a valium for that moment.

We did eventually make up. He was unwilling to forgive me for awhile, but then I bribed him with our new favorite show--BBC's Robin Hood. I have been Tivo-ing it and decided after episode 1 that Ryan would be fine watching it. He and I are both hooked on this show. An hour of swashbuckling and all was forgiven.

What did I knit this weekend? Nothing. A very disappoining weekend in terms of knitting. I gardened, I celebrated my anniversary, I got a haircut, I did 545781 loads of laundry (which is still all over my living room. I think it's growing. Honestly, I keep putting it away and everytime I turn around there is more), but no real knitting was accomplished. However, my Cinderella pattern came yesterday. I keep reading it and re-reading it. I am absolutely itching to get started. But I have to do it right. I need to figure out how many colors of yarn I need (and there are a lot), I need to come up with the money (again, a lot...), and I need to make sure I buy the right yarn, not just whatever is in stock. This cannot be a make-shift project--it will be done to perfection. Mike saw me reading the pattern and looked over my shoulder at it. He sounded very wary when he said "that looks really complicated". I couldn't keep the smile off my face when I answered "I know!"

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