The Lie: No, you can’t get junk cereal this week. You got it last time. I’ve been keeping track.
The Truth: I haven’t been keeping track, but they evidently haven’t either. I’ve got a deal with my kids that they can get sugary cereal one out of every three trips to the grocery store, and no more frequently than that. (“Deal” might not be the most accurate way to describe it, but there isn’t really a word for “dubious concession I make against my better judgment in order to mitigate my children’s incessant complaining, even if only slightly.”)
Thanks to a couple of strategic moves I’ve discovered, I’ve managed to reduce the rate to something closer to one out of every five or six trips. In the first, I can go to the store while they’re at their mom’s, in which case their non-presence amounts to a forfeiture of privileges; and in the second, a riskier but ultimately more satisfying ruse, I surreptitiously discard their cereal at the check-out line and feign disappointment at its absence once we get home. Today, I discovered what might be the simplest loophole: I simply take advantage of the fact that no one involved seems to have an actual working knowledge of where we are in the sequence.
A part of me feels bad for practicing duplicity with my kids, particularly within the context of an allegedly honest agreement, but I rationalize this by telling myself I’m merely preparing them for their future interactions with credit card companies.