At Finn's last well visit, our pediatrician talked to us about introducing solid foods and mentioned things he recommended and things he did not. For instance, biter biscuits and things he can easily grasp are okay; Cheerios are not.
I put on my best A-student face, nodding in agreement and looking interested and informed. "No Cheerios, got it." Nod, nod, nod. "Mash up the table foods. Okay, yeah, that makes sense..."
I could tell Liam was staring at me but I didn't dare catch his eye. What if he ratted me out? I was already lying to a doctor in front of my kids. How much smaller did I need to feel?
Fortunately he kept mum but as soon as we went downstairs to the frozen yogurt shop (our post-pediatrician treat), he laid into me.
"Mama, why did you lie to the doctor?"
It's a tricky thing, lying. We all do it to some extent but how do you explain that to a five year old who sees things strictly as right or wrong? And it's not just lying. The older Liam gets, the more I notice most things fall into the grey area. I sort of miss the toddler world where everything was black and white. Sticking your finger in the outlet is a NO. Pulling the cat's tail? Not okay. Now it's like everything is on a sliding scale depending on the situation, who else is involved, how it came to be...
But lying is wrong. Sort of. So I did my best to explain my actions.
"Liam, you're right about the Cheerios. But this is kind of a tricky situation. See, our doctor has to tell us what he thinks is best for Finn. That's his job. But it's my job as his mother to take all the information I get and decide what I think is best for him. Even though I respect our doctor and think he's a good guy who wants to help us, I may not always agree with him. And that's okay. I'm comfortable taking responsibility for the choices I make for you and Finny because you're my boys and I know you better than anyone else in the whole world. If anyone knows what's best for you, it's probably me."
"Yeah, but why did you lie? You could have just told him you gave Finny Cheerios. Then you wouldn't be lying."
"That's true. But here's the thing. He would still have to tell us what he thinks is best and I would still have to do what I think is best. And neither one of would be wrong. Some babies probably aren't ready to eat Cheerios at this age. But Finny is. So we're both right. If I told him I disagreed with him, what would be the point? He has one opinion; I have another. If I said something, all we would do is argue. But by letting him say what he needed to say, we're both able to do our jobs. Does that make sense?"
"I guess so. But I still don't think you should lie."
By the time we arrived at the pediatrician's office yesterday for his well visit, he had all but forgotten about my indiscretion.
He got weighed and measured, peed in a cup, did a hearing test and an eye test, giggled when the doctor tapped his knee and his foot kicked all by itself, and then sat quietly while the doctor asked me some questions.
"Does he enjoy a variety of activities?" he asked.
"Oh yeah, definitely. He likes to read and play with friends, he's really imaginative with his stuffed animals and toys. He plays a few video games. He likes to play outside and jump on the trampoline."
"Does he ride a bike?"
"Yeah, I mean..." I looked over at Liam who had his eyebrows raised. "Sort of."
"You have a trampoline in your backyard?"
"Yep!" As soon as I said it, I knew where this was going. I've seen America's Funniest Home Videos and Tosh.0. I may as well have told him we got an alligator for an indoor pet.
"Just be REALLY careful," he said, eyeing Finn on my lap. "I mean, he's probably too young to be on there yet but if there are other kids around, ONE AT A TIME on the trampoline."
I didn't dare look at Liam.
"Right," I said. "One at a time..."
As soon as we got our frozen yogurt and sat down, Liam said, "I know the doctor said one at a time on the trampoline but that's something that's our choice, right?" He was shaking his head as he talked, using that voice that says, "Are you with me? This is ridiculous!"
"That's right," I said. "Kinda like Finny and the Cheerios."
"Yeah, I mean, it's his job to tell us what he thinks is best but we're careful on the trampoline. We'll be okay!"
"Right," I said, glad to be off the hook. "We have to make our own choices and take responsibility for them."
"Yeah," he said, still shaking his head and scoffing a little. "We'll be fine!"
Power to the people...