My boys are 12 and 14. I lie to them on a daily basis. It is the only way I can navigate safely through the day without us all stoving each other to death.
Here are my top five lies (cue Top of the Pops music):
1. I love you both equally
I do love you both. But the truth is, I love you in quite different ways. I can't compare the love I have for you both; it's like comparing apples with pears. And just when I think I have a handle on the love that I feel for you, something happens, and it changes, or flexes.
At the risk of inducing vomit, imagine I've got four buckets, two for each son. One bucket each is full of a mother's love. That mother's love fills each bucket, right to the top. It's always there, right to the brim. Never moves.
Or another day, I'll watch them both fighting, and lying, and those huge buckets of love will suddenly be filled with effing pinholes and that sodding love will make an irritating wet patch on the floor.
I do love you both. But your buckets go up and down.
2. I haven't put green things in your dinner
I have, actually. Orange things too. I've just chopped them up really small and smothered them in tomato sauce and cheese. Occasionally, to make sure they disappear altogether, I put them in the blender.
And when you eat them, unknowingly, I do a tiny fist pump under the table.*
3. The internet shuts down after 10pm
There's absolutely no point in taking your phones to be bed with you because, in this street, they shut the internet off at 10pm. FACT.
Oh, and by the way, when I said I cared that you were upset that Tween had spent 5 minutes longer on the xbox than you, I lied.
In fact, in all matters internet-related, I'm lying to you. I don't trust you with it and I'll do my damnedest to stop you accessing it without me looking over your shoulder.
(I know, I'm being ridiculous.)
4. The 'c' word is 'crap'
It's not. I know you know what it is. But let's just all pretend that mummy's little lie is true for now, please.
5. I HATE cooking for you
When I've had a bad day, I will moan about making your tea for you. But the truth is, I love creating something for you to eat; it's a sort of fundamental mum thing, I think. A need to feed you properly to help you grow. I know that what I put in your mouths has a direct effect on how you behave and develop. I love mealtimes, whether we're sitting at the table or watching the telly together, tea on laps. I love talking to you when we're eating. I know it annoys you, but I love to hear about your day.
You are are part of me. And always will be.
Of course, it's not all lies. I mix the truth in there occasionally to confuse them. Keep them on their toes. Here are my top five family truths:
1. I don't care how you do in your test - just do your best
Honestly. I don't care if you come top or bottom. I just want you to work hard, do your best - that will be plenty good enough. Everyone has talents in some areas, and are shit in others. I bet Einstein wasn't that hot at rugby. Or Picasso at Biology. Or Brunel at forward rolls.
Tell me your test results. I will hug you.*
*Unless you haven't revised. Then I'll give you a kick up the arse.
2. I want you to be happy
I try so hard to make you both happy. You don't see it. Or maybe you see it, but you don't think about it. This house I bought - I bought it for you. It's near the school, you have a bedroom each, the front room is yours. The park is close by for you. I take you to places to widen your view on the world. I want you to come away from your computers and experience music, and the theatre - things that have given me so much happiness in the past. I want to give you what you want but equally I want you to learn the importance of earning your keep.
I want you to learn that love and laughter trump money, every time.
3. I love you both, and am soooo proud of you
When I say 'I love you', I mean it. I know I say it every day, and you probably don't even hear it any more, but when those words leave my mouth, I'm feeling it. That mother's love bucket is always full. And whenever you do something amazing, be it a tiny gesture of generosity, or a fantastic achievement at school, my heart bursts. I want to tell everyone how special you are. (I won't, because then no one will like me - including you.)
4. No girlfriend (or boyfriend) will be good enough for you
This is just a warning shot to your prospective partners. I am going to give them a really hard time. I will ask for CVs, references, some sort of dowry. There will be much questioning (interrogation). And only if they get 80% in the IQ test will they be allowed through to the next stage (bridge building with straws).
Oh, and if you are gay, please know this. I will be delighted. Please don't be afraid to tell me. I will support you however I can.
5. When you lie, and fight, and cheat, it disappoints me - but I will always (see 3.)
Those arguments that you have. When you scream 'NOT FAIR!', when you swear at each other, and come to blows. I hate them. They make me very sad indeed. I never know exactly who started it, but I assume that you both played a part. I know that you both lie to me when you say what the other has done. You are both shit liars (thank God) and I still recognise that uncomfortable stance, or that itchy nose, or that looking away.
Please don't lie in life. I mean, with things that matter. If you cock up, admit it, and do your best to fix it. Everyone makes mistakes. Even Olie Murs. Even The Queen. Even me. It took me a long time to learn that being truthful about it earns you much more respect than trying to cover your tracks.
But for now, when I see your lying, cheating faces, know this: my bucket's still full.
I love you.