A few years ago, Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious was all the rage among the moms I knew. My oldest, now nine, survives on a diet of chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers, fruit roll ups, orange juice and chocolate milkshakes, and many well-intentioned friends suggested I buy the book. They knew about my struggles to get him to try something as innocuous as a slice of banana or a bite of bacon, and were all sure that if I just hid some shredded carrots in my meatloaf, Bryce would gobble it up and start begging for salads. The kid has the tastebuds of a wary bloodhound, so I smiled and nodded and thanked them for their advice, and secretly knew that I was never going to go there. Besides, Bryce doesn’t like meatloaf.
Also, I don’t like to deceive my kids. At least that’s what I tell myself. In fact, as a mom, I tend to overshare. Case in point: last night the whole family watched the Oscars. If you watched, you probably saw the ad with a girl searching through an enchanted castle and finding a bottle labeled “cervical cancer.” My eight-year-old wanted to know what cervical cancer was, which required that I give her an entire anatomy lesson, and by the end of it, she was covering her ears, writhing on the floor, and begging me to just stop talking.
Last fall, my three-year-old was in a phase where she only wanted to wear dresses, because pants weren’t pretty enough. As I was buying winter clothes, I bought her a whole bunch of tights, a pair in each color, to keep her legs warm underneath all of those dresses. I pulled the first pair out, and my normally mild-mannered preschooler turned into a little she-wolf, kicking and wiggling and steadfastly refusing the tights. Every other kid showed up for her first ballet class with their legs clad in pink Danskin. Only Maren sported Hanes ankle socks.I’ve tried several times since then to get her to put on the tights, but she’d start to hyperventilate as soon as the T-word passed my lips.
Eventually I got smart and bought a handful of pairs of footless leggings that she could wear under the dresses, with the ballet leotard. But they were leggings, not the dreaded tights. This morning, I pulled out a pair of brand-new tights from the back of her underwear drawer (another battle there, but one you don’t want to hear about, I assure you), and came downstairs with “leggings with feet in them” for her to wear under her dress. She put them on. She didn’t scream. She didn’t whine about the seams in the toes. She’s been prancing around the house in her cute “leggings” ever since. And I’m left wondering why I wasn’t smart enough to trick her back in September.
Maybe deception isn’t always a bad thing.
When have you tricked your kids into doing what you wanted? When has it worked well? How has it backfired? Do you feel guilt or just a sense of triumph when you succeed?