Turns out that the Pope has a Twitter account and frequently tweets homilies, judicially-worded reminders that we are flawed, and teasers about how we can fast track our pass to Heaven. On June 23rd, the Pope tweeted, “We are all sinners.”
Yeah, like I need reminding. I’ve lied to my kids about the tooth fairy. One Christmas I ate up the cookies they left for Santa, drank his coffee, left them a misspelled Thank U note and used it as a teaching opportunity for why they should study hard and not end up an overweight bum with a sweet tooth who only works one night a year.
But I’ve done worse. I’ve raised at least one deeply delusional child. Clearly, there is no salvation for that!
Some time ago I dug up baby home videos and settled down to watch them. Pretty soon my kids joined me.
“You guys were so cute back then. You cooed and made adorable gurgling noises.”
They simply rolled their eyes in response.
“Even when you guys cried, you sounded like little kittens meowing,” I recollected wistfully. “I don’t get how patient I was with you lot back then,” I marveled.
“So what changed?” They wondered.
“You learned to speak, complain, fight, and tattle. That pretty much wrung all the cuteness out of your babble.”
My youngest had a theory. If he didn’t have siblings, he’d be the perfect child. He wouldn’t have anyone to complain about or fight with. Instead he is saddled with two older siblings who delight in tormenting him.
“It’s your fault I’m the youngest,” he informed me. “Why couldn’t you have made me the oldest?”
“That’s not how it works,” I tried to explain. Holy smokes! The kid thought I willfully shuffled the birthing order.
“So, you figure the order in which you kids were born is a lot like being put on hold when you make a phone call. You know, “Please stay on the line. Your call is important to us. It will be answered in the order in which it was received … that kind of thing?” What would the “hold” music be, I wonder? Cakewalk?
“Either that or we had to fight amongst us to decide who got born first,” he said. It explained why his older brother still picked on him despite five years separating the two of them.
“Sibling rivalry is a combat sport,” his older brother concurred, showing off bite marks like they were ancient artifacts that he’d been carbon dating.
“But it doesn’t start in the womb!”
“Weren’t you paying attention during Human Growth and Development?” his sister chided her little brother in exasperation.
I had the distinct feeling we were living through a Seinfeld episode.
“Tell me honestly, have I given you reason to think this way?” I asked him, half-dreading his candid response. I’d spun them so many yarns, told many tall tales, and half- truths that my conscience was now starting to have an auto immune response. I had led them to believe that their aunt, my sister, was from Mars. When my youngest was born, I allowed my two older kids to think that the giant mole on my tummy delivered a choice of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate milk to their infant brother. When they were little, I might have told them that a huge zipper on my tummy opened when each of them was ready to be born. Once when they confessed that they thought their dad was a covert CIA operative who used his job as a professor as his cover, I chuckled in a way that seemed to confirm their theory instead of setting the record straight that their father was a fine educator and a regular working stiff. I chortled within an inch of a tummy ache when my daughter confessed that she thought the Jesuit Order that was responsible for educating her father through school and college were monastic assassins. In my defense, we spent a lot of time indoors.
# Purgatory.
“Have a heart! You and your brother are five years apart, you and your sister are nearly three years apart; what do you figure the three of you were doing in my tummy during this time?”
“I dunno. I figured we played a lot of volleyball,” he said, scrunching up his face like he was trying to remember who amongst them had the killer serve.
Hmm … jungle ball.
That day, I came clean. No more fibs, creatively constructed mistruths or subliminal messaging. Misplaced laughter is harder to suppress; the joys of parenting are many, but I live for the Seinfeld moments.

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