So I was sitting at my desk the other day, feeding Gracie. Eilis was in the living room, watching Dora on the television. One minute, I heard her yelling gleefully at the TV “Swiper, No Swiping!”, and the next thing I knew, she was standing in the doorway of the office/laundry room, crying and screaming hysterically.
“It was an accident! Please don’t tell Daddy! Please, Mommy, I didn’t mean it!” I grab her with the hand that I have freed up by putting the bottle down and pull her towards me. I ask her to calm down so I can understand her better, and through hysterical tears, I find out that she has broken our glass coffee table.
The first thing that enters my mind is that there is no way she has broken it, because first, I would have heard it; second, she would be bleeding to death on the floor, since the table top is glass. I get up from my desk and run into the living room to find, sure enough, she has broken the table. It cracked clear across, one piece fell on the carpet, the other is still in the table.
I want to hug her and tell her it’s okay, but Eilis has been told since she was a very small child of about 18 months old “Tables are made for glasses, not asses”. I have been afraid of that table and small children since Eilis was born, and it is a constant mantra in our house that no one may sit on the table. For some reason, the appeal is too great, and all of us, at one time or another, have sat on it. So instead of hugging her, I remind her that she was not allowed to sit on the table, and through those very dramatic sobs, she tells me she knows, but she “had to” sit on it. I do not know what the compelling force was, she couldn’t elaborate, but something drew her, forcing her to sit on the forbidden piece of furniture.
I put the baby in her pack n play so I can assess the situation, and Eilis, calming herself down a bit but still crying, starts suggesting solutions.
“We can get a genie, Mommy. A genie will fix it before Daddy gets home.”
“There are no Genies in real life, Eilis.”
“Please Mommy, can we call the table fixer?”
“No, Eilis, I don’t know where there is a table fixer.”
At this point, I begin removing the piece of glass that remains in the table so I can take it out to the garage before someone gets hurt. Eilis jumps up excitedly and shouts,
“Yes, Mommy! We can pretend it’s invisible and Daddy won’t know it’s broken!”
Clever, I think, and I may have to do that. When he goes to put his cup on it as he has his snack tonight, and it falls through to the floor, we’ll act like we don’t know what happened to the glass. It must be invisible!
“No, Eilis, I think Daddy will know it hasn’t become invisible.”
“Mommy, we can tell Daddy you broke it because you can’t get in trouble. You’re too big to get in trouble.”
Now the kid is making cracks about my weight.
“You know Eilis, lying is never a good thing,” I begin. But the kid is on to something. I can tell Jim I broke the table while I was cleaning it! That gets Eilis off the hook, and I probably won’t have to clean too often in the future, because I will look like I can’t do it properly and the rest of the furniture is now at risk.
I finish getting the table out to the garage – damn is that table heavy – and I sit down at my desk. Eilis comes in and suggest that maybe no one will notice that the table is missing. And then I do something that I don’t want to do. I am going to lie for my child.
I sit her on my lap and I tell her that Daddy is going to be very upset that the table is broken, but I don’t want him to be upset with her. I tell her it is an awful thing to lie to someone, but I will tell Daddy that I broke the table so that she doesn’t get in trouble. She is hugging me and thanking me, and I know we will go to our graves with this bonding secret between us.
Today, Eilis apologized to Jim for breaking the table. UGH.