Children are evil. No, seriously, hear me out. Put that phone down, little readers – there’s no need to call CPS. I still love the little buggers. It’s not like I would try to sell them on the street to gypsies or anything. They’d give ‘em back anyway.
Okay, okay…maybe evil is too strong a word. We’ll settle on ‘children are honest’. Honesty is a close cousin of evil. They have lunch at least once a week.
I have an 8 year old and a 5 year old. Now, my 8 year old has Aspergers, so he has a mild excuse for his cruelty. But his sister? She’s just downright bad. And I’m not talking about normal, flush-the-action-figure-down-the-toilet-to-the-tune-of-$130 kind of bad. Oh, no. It’s much worse than that. They have become my own personal self-esteem deflators.
To wit – at our last Thanksgiving dinner, whilst surrounded by all those twice-a-year relatives I don’t really care for (the feeling is mutual, trust me), trying desperately to figure out an exit strategy, my darling, beautiful, adorable little daughter looked at me with the sweetest smile and said (rather loudly) “Mama, you’re fat!” She then fell into a fit of giggles while the rest of the family shifted uncomfortably in their assigned seats.
Now, I am not a supermodel, little readers. Far from it. But neither am I Jabba the Hut. I prefer the term “Voluptuous Goddess”. It speaks to my greatness, so I’m cool with it. Besides, my partner prefers me a little fluffy, and I prefer not to weigh and measure the amount of salad I eat – or raw cookie dough, if we’re being honest – so it works.
The beauty of this moment was not in the terrified looks of my uptight relatives at her remark, but instead in the fact that my training of said child had apparently took. I grinned at her and replied, “That’s right honey. And how did mommy get this way?” With that same beatific smile, she answered, “Because of me and my brother!” She got an extra slice of pie.
In another installment of much the same story, my son had become fixated on the term “junk in the trunk.” Now, as I have mentioned, this is the child with Aspergers. So when he becomes fixated on something, it’s a permanent part of his repertoire for at least a few months. One fine summer day in Texas, when the temperature was somewhere near 450 degrees in the shade, I was moseying around the house in a t-shirt and undies. I’m sure there are thousands of you gasping right now at my choice of attire in front of my children, but with all due politeness, unless you have suffered through three months of triple-digit heat and $600 electric bills, you may stuff it. Politely, of course. I am a Southern woman, after all.
Anyway, as I made my way across the living room, my son screams out “Hey mama! You’ve got junk in your trunk!” Being used to a child that has no real ability to read social clues and/or exhibit proper social behavior, I laughed it off, and told him he was right. Just then, that darling little pixie of mine came dancing into the living room from the kitchen, complete with fairy wand and wings. No, seriously. She was dressed up as Tinkerbell. You know, because it was Tuesday. She smiled that smile that lets me know something terrible is about to exit her little mouth and said “Yeah. You’ve got junk in your legs too, mama.”
While I am pondering which boarding school might be able to keep her the longest, my partner walks in from the back of the house. She had heard the whole thing. (My children’s inside voices are much like the general population’s outside voices.) Lovingly, she guided both children to the couch and counseled them in complete seriousness.
“You guys,” she said, “you need to understand something. The only thing you ever tell a woman – ever – even if she’s covered in warts and boils and hairy moles – is that she’s beautiful. Understand?” They nodded solemnly, and I was moved that she would try to instill that kind of compassion in them. That was until she leaned in closer and whispered, “Anything else could get you killed.”
Ah, well. Such is life. At least I know that while she may not always think it (although she swears she does), she will always be there to lie to me and tell me I am beautiful. Because I’ll let you in on a secret, little readers – all women, thick or thin or in-between – we don’t want the truth. Even if we say we do. We’re lying. Get over it.
We want you to look at our cellulite, our didn’t-have-time-to-wash-it-today hair, our no-make-up face, our stretch marks, and tell us that we are the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. And to do it with a straight face. You might want to practice in the mirror first. As previously mentioned, failure could be fatal.
So while I have resigned myself to the fact that my children will be brutally (and loudly) honest with me for at least the next few years, I also have the comfort that comes with the “I love you’s”, the “you’re the best mommy’s” and the like. And then there’s my personal favorite, spoken once again by my little girl while we were cuddling at bedtime.
“Mama, I love all your squishy parts. You’re the softest mama in the world.”
To this day I don’t know if that was a compliment or an insult. Kids. Whatcha gonna do?