Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 13, 1999

MARY ANN FITZMORRIS / L’Observateur / September 13, 1999

Last year’ scandals brought honesty and lessons for children to the front of the national consciousness. Relax. Not to worry. Children are inherently,unavoidably honest. Brutally honest.For example, the other day I was primping in the bathroom. They werethere, naturally, and I said to no one in particular that I think I am losing a little weight. Both children disagreed, “Oh, no, mom, you’re just as fat asever!” “Thank you,” I replied, obviously crestfallen. Noticing my disappointment,they tried to make amends. “At least you’re not as fat as Daddy,” theycontinued, trying to lessen the blow. Thank you. Thank you very much.My daughter and I had a lovely but depressing conversation recently. Atsome point in the exchange, she confided the obvious to her; that I’m not pretty. Again I looked disappointed. She leaned very close, touched my arm,and gently whispered, “But you don’t have to be pretty to be good.” Shecontinued, ” You don’t have to be pretty to be loved.” And to think Ihaven’t given the kid a single lesson in political correctness.

A friend of mine has a charming little girl who has obviously not inherited either of her parent’s tendency to be direct. My friend told me that notlong ago she was getting undressed in front of the mirror. Naturally, shehad an audience, and her daughter studied her half-naked mother wearing just the legging part of her outfit. She resembled a sausage whose casingcouldn’t quite contain it’s stuffing.

My friend was amused at how her daughter tried to contain the horror of seeing her mom popped out all over the top of her pants. The girl finallymustered the required discretion. “Mom,” she said carefully, “Those pantsare a little tight, don’t you think?” Her mom explained that they are worn under a big old muu-muu tunic, sort of like a tent, which hides everything.

The girl remained unconvinced, “Well, all right, but I still don’t think you should wear them any more.”While my children don’t bother with diplomacy, they have the social graces to be merciful with others. At least in their presence.Not long ago, my husband was standing around a group of adults and a young girl my daughter’s age came up to him and hugged him. She restedher head on his Santa waistline, and then patted it, smiling with comfort.

“You look like you’re going to have a baby,” she remarked innocently, as though she thought it possible. That line became the entertainment for theevening.

I’m happy to say my kids save such disclosures for family only. And theycover every subject. For awhile there I was stricken with sweepstakesfever. I worked hard on a recipe for a cooking contest which had veryspecific and limiting guidelines.

After slaving in the kitchen for a while, using a truly delicious combination of ingredients, I made something less yummy than it should have been and ugly; really ugly.

I stared at it ruefully, trying to think of a name. My son approached, and,between guffaws, suggested an undeniably accurate one. “How about HurlSandwich’?” he offered, clearly tickled with himself.

No, I just don’t think we really have to worry about the honesty of children. They always did, and always will, tell it exactly like it is.

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