You never want to assume that your children are lying to you. I mean, when their toothbrushes aren’t wet and their breath could melt a refrigerator, yet they insist that they brushed their teeth, it’s pretty obvious that some fibbing is going on… But still, you’d like to think that your kid is the kind of kid who wants to tell you the truth, whose answers you can trust, rather than always jumping to the conclusion that everything out of their mouths is bullsh*t.
Well, there’s having faith in your kid – which can be a beautiful thing – and then there’s just plain stupidity. Our own girls fall somewhere in the middle of the lying continuum: telling the truth most of the time, but certainly not all; being just conscientious enough to spill the beans but cunning enough to practice some tale-telling; being afraid of the consequences of being caught in a lie but also being scared as hell to get in trouble for the original infraction. Aw, man, I love parenthood.
So, when I found a pile of glitter on one of my darling daughters’ bedroom floors (I shall refrain from naming her to afford her some modicum of privacy, but really, there are only two of them so your imagination can totally run wild), my first assumption was that it had been dumped there. I mean, this isn’t a strip club; glitter is not usually peppering our floors, except after art projects and the wearing of particularly “fancy” dress-up clothes, so it had to come from somewhere – namely, my little Darling.
Upon questioning, however, she insisted – absolutely insisted – that she had no idea how the glitter found its way onto her floor. Maybe a dog had knocked it over? Perhaps it had spilled out of a craft bag? Could it be that the tooth fairy left some behind? No matter how many times I tried to poke holes in my Darling’s reasoning, her denial remained ironclad: she did not put that glitter on her floor. No ma’am. No how.
Seeing that I was getting nowhere and I had no actual evidence that she’d been the glitter dumper, I decided to let it go. Maybe, in all of our post-Christmas comings and goings, the glitter really had just fallen to the floor somehow. And maybe, also, I shouldn’t be so quick to assume the worst of my Darling, but should instead take her at her word. No more Judgey McJudgerson. In fact, perhaps, in the past, she has felt compelled to lie because I have automatically found her guilty before trying her of the crime. New year, new leaf: I will believe in my children. Teach them well, and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Or something.
Monday was one heckuva day – nothing bad, really, just one of those days when your calendar is like a Jenga board, with all of the appointments and To-Dos fitting just so, lest the tower topple. It was in the fifteen minutes between my final piano lesson and Ella heading to swim practice that I first noticed the glitter in the living room. It didn’t seem like much – a small trail in the middle of the room – but it caught my eye, so I asked my Darling about it, the one whose floor still bore a pile of glitter (vacuuming her room was not amongst my Jenga pieces, thank you very much).
And I received the same response: Nope. Not her. She had no idea how the glitter had gotten on the living room floor. Was she sure? Yes, she was sure, damn it (except that she didn’t really say “damn it” because then this story would have a far different ending). And so I again began to doubt my parenting, again chastising myself for assuming the worse of my Darling – after all, the puppy had recently been upstairs. Maybe she’d gone into my Darling’s room and had brought a trail of glitter with her into the living room. I should blow it off, anyway – you know, and let the children’s laughter remind me how I used to be. A bit of glitter? How charming!
After swimming (which was really after two swimmings, because Ella forgot something vital at the pool and we had to go back again to retrieve it after dinner; those top Jenga pieces were tottering, let me tell you), as the kids were on their way upstairs to get ready for bed, I passed through the living room and noticed that there seemed to be more than just “a small trail” of glitter. At that moment, however, I didn’t have time to stop and examine it, much less clean it up, because of bedtime and lunch-packing and teeth-brush-monitoring (see above: saying teeth are clean when they are not) and reading and tucking in and laundry putting-away.
It was not until after the girls were snuggled into their beds and my laundry basket had been emptied and the lunches had been packed that I realized just how damn much glitter was in the living room. It was everywhere: spread across both rugs, on the coffee table, on the reclining chair, wrapped up in a blanket (which I didn’t know contained glitter until I picked it up to refold it and flung microscopic shimmer across the couch). It was as though a unicorn had thrown up violently all over the room. An angry, particularly sparkle-tastic unicorn.
Because the dogs had been stuck in the kitchen for most of the day (see above: Jenga-busy), I had wanted to let them out and have the run of the living room for the rest of the evening, but there was no way I could do that with the amount of glitter on the floor. Indeed, there was so much glitter, I couldn’t walk across the floor without dragging pieces of it with me. There was absolutely no choice: I’d have to vacuum.
Jenga tower: down.
As I ran the vacuum over… and over… and over every square inch of the living room, I contemplated my Darling’s insistence that she had nothing to do with this mess. On the one hand, it seemed absolutely impossible that the glitter found its way into every corner of the living room without some kind of divine intervention. And yet… She had looked me in the eye — more than once — and stated in the strongest possible terms that she was not responsible for the explosion. Could she really lie that deliberately? MY Darling?
After a good twenty minutes or so of vacuuming, I was satisfied that I’d picked up the vast majority of the glitter. Crossing the room to unplug the machine, however, I was nearly blinded by the light reflecting off the floor: glitter – still! – everywhere.
And then I saw what was happening: the pieces of glitter were so small, they were not being adequately picked up by the vacuum. Compounding the problem was the fact that what makes glitter, well, glittery is that it shimmers only some of the time, depending on how the light hits it. So, while vacuuming, the floor looked like this:
Clean. Shimmer-free. Lovely.
But when the light hit the floor from another angle, it looked like this:
UNICORN VOMIT EVERYWHERE.
And this is AFTER twenty minutes of vacuuming.
After twenty more minutes, I was through. Yes, it still looks like a Pride parade went through, but we’re pretty strong gay marriage supporters in this house, so I guess that comes with the territory. After putting my Jenga tower back together and completing the rest of my 493 To-Do items, I crashed, not giving the sparkle a second thought.
In the morning, there was the usual mad rush to get off to school, so I didn’t have the opportunity to ask my Darling if, perhaps, there was anything more she’d like to tell me about the abundance of glitter in the living room – if, perhaps, her memory had failed her just the teensiest of bits. It wasn’t until the kids were due home from school that I was tidying up another area of the living room – one that was seemingly untouched by the shimmer explosion – that I found them: the caps to two vials of glitter.
Exhibit C: the evidence. Shiny, impossible-to-vacuum evidence.
My friends, Jambi may be an awesome service dog-in-training, but I can assure you that none of us has ever taught her how to pry open the lids of glitter bottles, toss the contents all over the living room, and then leave the caps lying on a table that’s taller than she is. No, this had to have been done by a human, and the most likely suspect was the aforementioned, I-swear-it-wasn’t-me Darling. And to think I’d spent all that time cleaning… It seems they can take away my dignity, damn it, Whitney.
At bedtime, I sat her down, prepared to have a really difficult conversation about the glitter, fully prepared for her to push back with all her might and continue to insist she had nothing to do with it. Or, as Nick put it, to do what it took to “break her.” I opened by asking her if she had anything more to tell me about the glitter in the living room. Before she could even answer, I decided to pull out the big guns: I told her that I’d found the caps, and would she care to change her story?
Well, little Miss may have been able to lie straight to my face when I had nothing tying her to the crime, but when faced with cold, hard facts, she crumbled faster than my Jenga tower. After ‘fessing up and apologizing for lying (I’ll take my therapy money back, thanks), she still seemed unsure as to why flinging glitter around the living room was such a big deal. My spending the better portion of an hour cleaning it up didn’t seem to bother her, nor did the fact that we’ll be discovering glitter in our food for the next two months. Actually, that may have made the whole episode seem more appealing. Explaining to her that it was bad for the dogs – dangerous, even – to have that much glitter around also did not seem to move her.
And so I did what any noble parent would do: I lied.
You know why else it’s a problem?
Because if you continue spilling glitter all over the floor, magicians won’t have any left for their acts.
*long pause, followed by a statement made in a wide-eyed whisper*
“I’ve never seen a magician use glitter.”
That’s probably because you and your friends are using it all up.
*solemn nodding* “You’re right. I won’t ever do that again.”
I’m glad we can agree on this.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, may truly be the greatest love of all.
On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t throw away the therapy money just yet.
That was a very tricky one, but quite entertaining.