Monday, August 16, 2010

He Knows If You've Been Bad Or Good....

Sophie: Do you think Santa will bring me a new high chair for my babies for Christmas?
Mommy: What do you think he'll think about the fact that you broke the old one?
Sophie: I'll hide it. He won't know. And you won't tell.

For anyone who thinks that babies are innocent, I beg to differ. The first morning after we brought Sophie home from the orphanage she threw up on me. Even at that young age she was devious enough to know which parent couldn't handle spit-up and would start gagging immediately.

Every parent has seen it happen. Babies wait until that moment during a diaper change when the "protection" is off and the parent's back is turned while they're either disposing of the disgusting Pampers or pulling out a new one in order to pee a river all over the changing table (or worse, the bed).

As they grow older, it just gets worse. Who among us hasn't opened a closet and found a broken item that's been missing for months. For me, it was opening a drawer in the living room and finding a half-eaten Pop Tart. They start out devious and it just gets worse as children get older.

Sophie's solution to her high chair dilemma was fast and well thought-out. I watched her mind process the problem and come up with the solution within seconds. There was just the faintest pause between each short sentence as she thought of each problem and immediately came up with the corresponding answer to it. One part of me was impressed with her fast processing, but the other part was sad at how easily she came to the conclusion that deception and cover-up would be the best solution (I'd make a politician joke here but that would be too easy).

Even with this, there are moments of sunshine when Sophie's honesty brightens the room. We're working on a method of stopping the thumb sucking entirely. She only does it when watching television or in bed, but it's time for it to go away completely. So, there's a chart on the refrigerator and every day that she doesn't suck her thumb she gets to put a sticker on the chart. She can choose a trip for lunch at McDonalds, Wendy's, or Cici's. She can also choose a tattoo or an item at the dollar store. At the end of the day we ask her if she's sucked her thumb at all. Amazingly, if she has she tells us. I don't know if she'll realize some day that a lie will get her what she wants or not. Maybe she's already thought that through and decided that we'll just stop believing her if she says that she hasn't. Plus, she still believes that I have eyes in the back of my head so she might even be thinking that our asking is just a test.

We definitely realize that the art of lying and deception will be fed by peer pressure as Sophie grows older and will work against what we're trying to teach her. It's already happened. She had a playmate that's a good bit older than her at the house and they didn't realize how well sound travels from her room to my office. At one point I heard the friend say, "...and don't tell your mother."  I didn't know what the situation was but I immediately called both girls into my office and had Sophie stand next to me.

Very gently and with lots of love I explained to her how she can always tell me anything. I told her that if she has even done anything wrong I would be more saddened and upset that she tried to cover it up or hide it than by what she had actually done; and that when (not if) I found out, the discipline would be more than it would have been without the lie. Her friend was watching the two of us talk with an open mouth. Her parents may have a different way of handling discipline (I'm being politically correct; I KNOW they have a different way), but my mom dealt with us by talking through things before discipline was meted out simply to make sure that any was necessary and to what level it should be given.

As time goes on and I'm not there to hear the whispered words and watch Sophie see others lie and deceive, I hope that this is building a strong enough foundation that she'll be confident in her choices to do the right thing. Hopefully her strong will can influence others instead of her being influenced.

Fortunately the One that sees if we've been bad or good is also very forgiving. She knows who He is too, thank goodness and that's the strongest and most stable foundation we can ever hope for.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Everyone Puts Their Pants on One Leg at a Time

"Mommy, will Santa come in the bathroom to poop so he'll see my snowman night light?"

The whole idea of Santa is one that my husband and I had many "animated discussions" about when Sophie was a baby. I was raised in a family that treated Santa as any cartoon hero that you know doesn't really exist but look up to anyhow (for me it was the original black and white Superman show). Christmas was first and foremost about the birth of Christ (and then the presents). My husband was raised believing in Santa. Since we both ended up pretty much normal and well-balanced and my brother, who is a psychologist, told me to lighten up when we presented our case to him, I decided to go with the "let her believe Santa is real" option and just see what happened.

Last Christmas was the first year that Sophie truly understood the concept of Santa and she embraced it totally. Life began revolving around making sure Santa knew what she wanted, where he was working, if he was going to be able to get everything done, etc. I have to admit that playing the "Be good or Santa will see you," card was used a few times by me. Santa was

When we decorated the house, we put up a Santa night light in the bathroom so our young lady would be able to see where she was going if she needed to go potty at night. It wasn't until a couple of days later that the question about whether Santa was going to see our Christmas decoration in the bathroom was brought up.

After a good laugh and running to write down what she said before I forgot it, it hit me that even though Santa was bigger than life to Sophie, she realized that he still went to the bathroom. He does this HUGE job, but when the rubber meets the road, he's just a guy and he needs to poop too.

How different our perspective of those we hold in such high esteem would be if we first remembered that they have to poop just like us. Lately it's happened to some big heroes in various venues. The football world saw that Michael Vick poops; and in a different way the golf community saw that Tiger Woods does as well.  (Is it ironic that my daughter just walked by and let me know that she has to go poop?)

Unfortunately, there are those whose stars rise so high that even they seem to forget that they poop like the rest of us and when it happens, they do it in front of the world and the crash is one from which they never recover completely. Mel Gibson is one of those, as is Brittany Spears.  For me, the worst scenario is the ones who we hold so high even though we are well aware of their shortfalls (sorry, I'm getting tired of the poop analogy and I think you know what I mean by now). We are willing to turn a blind eye to the stink and only focus on the glitter and glam.

This was the case for me in 1982. The person in question was my favorite comedian and actor. He was very, very funny, especially with physical comedy. He was also a local boy who made it big; having gone to my high school. I actually met his older brother because his mother had worked at the same pharmacy as me and once the family moved to California, the brother came in to chat and tell us what the movie industry was like. My hero was John Belushi and he died in 1982 of an accidental overdose. I remember where I was when I heard and I cried my eyes out.

These popular icons seem unable to learn from their fellow artists, athletes, etc. Whether it's an accidental overdose, suicide or a different kind of fall (aka Rob Lowe and Hugh Grant), it continues to continue. Marilyn Monroe, Billie Holiday, Anna Nicole Smith, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson....this list doesn't end.

I want my daughter to have heroes. I'd like them to include people of quality and character, but I am not that naive. So, when she has pictures of whoever replaces Lady Gaga by the time Sophie's a teenager, I hope that in addition to admiring the artist's style and voice, she still remembers that when it's all said and done, her hero poops just like she does. Human is human after all.