tall tales

My daughter is something of a storyteller. It’s not that she lies; on the contrary, she is almost unbearably devoted to the truth, such that every single utterance made by anybody within earshot of her is deconstructed by her for the purposes of establishing the exact parameters of its bases in fact. But she does have a colorful imagination, and her fanaticism about truth doesn’t perfectly overlap with the (in her mind, perceived) divisions between reality and fantasy. Which is to say, her attachment to truth extends only so far as her imagination. You’re welcome to try to parse the contradictions there. I have tried, and failed.

She believes, for example, in fairies and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, in part because she believes that there is some evidence for their existence (lost teeth being mysteriously retrieved from beneath children’s pillows, presents left under coniferous trees in wintertime, chocolate eggs left scattered around the backyard in spring, that kind of thing.) She does not believe in unicorns, because, as she says, she’s ever seen one ‘live and in person’; I’ve countered that she’s also never seen a shark ‘live and in person,’ and yet she doesn’t doubt those, and she replied that, fine, maybe she didn’t believe in sharks, and perhaps that meant that I should take her to Sea World. Is there such a thing as a juvenile opportunistic truther? (I know, I know – is there any other kind?)

She also believes, apparently, that her Mommy and Daddy take baths together every week. She also believes, apparently, that her Mommy and Daddy take baths together every week. This according to my sister-in-law, who stayed with the kids the other weekend while we were in New York (soon to be our permanent place of residence; that’s another story). “She gave us a tour of the house,” my SIL explained in an email to my husband, “and when we got to the bathroom, she explained that this was the room where Mommy and Daddy take baths together.” She also explained that she was allowed to stay up late on weekends and watch TV, and that we always have cupcakes for lunch on Saturdays, but those were clearly opportunistic efforts to massage the truth to her own advantage. The story about her parents’ bathing habits, on the other hand, served no apparent purpose, so I’m forced to assume that she believes it to be true.

It’s not true, of course. I wouldn’t be sharing this story if it were true; I’m pretty confessional on the Internet, but I’m really kind of loathe to get into the details of my marital relations. And in any case, do any two adults ever really take baths together? Isn’t that something that you only see in really cheesy porn, if you watched cheesy porn, which I know that you totally don’t (I totally don’t. Seriously, you guys.) Two adults jammed naked into a standard bathtub strikes me as one of the most awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable things that two adults can do together. And bathroom lighting, my god. Is there a more unflattering setting in which to be naked, than hunched in a pool of water under an overhead light? Also, you would totally bang your elbows. That’s just science.

It’s possible that Emilia told this story because it made our home life seem more interesting that it actually is. It’s also possible that she simply really believes it and considers the facts that Kyle and I must bathe and that bathing in our household is often done in pairs (Emilia and I, Emilia and her brother, her brother and his Thomas train, etc, etc) as sufficient evidence in support of her claim. It’s a pretty tidy syllogism, if you think about it: A) we bathe efficiently in our house, B) bathing efficiently means tandem bathing, C) Mommy and Daddy must bathe, ergo D) Mommy and Daddy bathe as a pair. This is impressive reasoning – if she did, in fact, reason this out, which is, frankly, really very possible – but it’s cause for concern, really, because who knows what other syllogisms (syllogi?) she could come up with? Mommy and Daddy say that we fill our kitchen cupboards with things that are good for you; there’s a lot of liquor in one of those cupboards; therefore, Mommy and Daddy think that liquor is good for them? I could see her tossing that one out during a class discussion on healthy eating. (“What’s an example of something to drink that’s good for you, class?” “Water!” “Milk!” “VODKA! MOMMY SAYS SO.”)

I’m doomed, I know. But at least we know that she’ll make a good lawyer one day. That will come too late to help me out with the inevitable misunderstandings with CPS, but still. SILVER LINING.

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