“I’ll think about it,” was a phrase I learned to dread throughout my childhood. When asking if I could have pop before bed or try on Grandma’s new lipstick, those four words were uttered in response. In reality, my mother and father had already thought the request through. They had given it all the attention it was ever going to get in their busy, parenting minds. But rather than saying “No” or “You can’t be serious,” they lied. Then, days or – more realistically – hours later, when I would rehash my request, they were appalled. To them, my act in question was never an option. But because I’d never been told the truth, I believed it to be undecided. Like any good businesswoman, I was just following through with a potential transaction.
Eventually I caught on; I knew they were lying. To try and best them, my requests became more and more outrageous. I would ask to dig my own landline, to stay up for the marathon of Beavis and Butthead, or to attend their class reunion dresses as a clown. If they thought I was joking, “no” would immediately be sounded, along with nervous laughter. But should I have kept a straight face, their go to “Let me think about it” was used. No matter how outrageous my request, they simply couldn’t turn me down.
After years of observation, I realized it was because I was the first (and certainly not the most vocal) of their children. My siblings were quickly and regularly refused requests. The lies had so overwhelmingly exhausted my parents that they’d decided to tell the truth.
Another act of defiance by my parents was their sheer shamelessness of pride. As if they have no ability to control themselves, all throughout my childhood they flaunted my talents – whether or not they existed. My skills, no matter how well developed, were complimented and encouraged. Thankfully, they weren’t stage parents or the kind who wore “Bethaney’s Mom” on their jackets or car windows. But when the doors were closed, the wool came down.
“You can do anything you set your mind to,” they’d chant. Really? Really parents, with a less than middle school education I could do anything? What were you guys – professional cheerleaders? (Not that I would have ever know because you’d have lied about that too.) They’re lucky I didn’t grow up to have an unreasonably sized ego and a fluffy, bejeweled dog.
In the scope of the Duggars to The Man With the Yellow Hat, I’d say my parents were somewhere in between. Sure I was always safe, fed, and was forced to wear a minimal amount of hand-me-downs, but the lying still occurred.
Later in life, when they are asking for their grandchildren to visit, or for advanced on social security, I’ll simply squinch my face and say, “I’ll think about it.”