It's the hour between when my daughter gets home from school and when we leave to pick up her brother. She has climbed up next to me on the couch. Tweens are like wild animals that way. They'll sometimes get close, but only when you're not trying. Now we are lying lengthwise, side-by-side, both looking up at the ceiling. Her head rests in the crook of my arm.
"Um ... Mommy?"
"You don't know this, but ..."
I have come to love conversations that begin this way. You never know what's coming next, but it's never dull. You don't know this, but I'm actually a mermaid. You don't know this, but yesterday Daddy said a bad word. You don't know this, but I really do have a sister. (OK, I admit that last one was a tad unnerving.)
"I went snow camping with Daddy."
Considered, but rejected: "Um ... kiddo? You have the cold tolerance of a 12-cent goldfish. Last time we went sledding, you lasted 34 seconds. I assure you, you have never been snow camping."
Out loud: "You did? When?"
"Oh, it was a long time ago, like when I was 5. I remember it was Christmas Eve, and when I woke up there were presents all around."
At this point, she sneaks a look sideways at me, to see if I'm really buying this. I see the hint of the grin. I am careful not to react.
Give me your best, little girl. It is ON.
"Christmas Eve, huh? Was I there, too?"
"Nope. It was just me and Daddy. Our tent was made out of snow and we even had a living room and made a real TV out of snow and it WORKED."
Nice. But don't forget you got that poker face from me.
"Seems like I would remember not being with you at Christmas. Where was I?"
"I'm pretty sure you were in Winthrop."
Winthrop?! Where the hell ...?
"So everything was made out of snow? That's cool. How did you stay warm?"
The grin is getting bigger. She doesn't even hesitate before saying with authority: "Loose clothing that dries quickly."
God help us when she is old enough to REALLY have something to lie about.