The Lies We Tell

My friend Ilana was over at my home a few days ago and while we were nestled in on my couch, each holding a baby, with our other children running wild, she remarked, “I wonder how many times I lie in a day”.

Well.  That’s interesting.

She was referring to the lies we tell our children.  Santa, Tooth Fairy, “I’ll be right back” etc.  How many times have I had to elaborate on a story I’ve begun in an effort to get some good behavior?  To date, we’ve had a number of Fairies in our home.  There was the Sleep Fairy who designed a chart for Roan to mark how many nights in a row he could stay in his room all night.  Before her there was a Poop Fairy, who had the distinction of helping kids who were otherwise potty trained go ahead and poop in the toilet, as opposed to putting on a diaper, squatting next to the toilet, and pooping.  Not saying it was Roan.  Just saying…well, ok it was Roan.

Parents are liars!  Especially me – I love a great lie.  I love telling fantastic stories and just leaving them in the air for a kid with enough magical thinking to go ahead and believe.  My friend Jen’s little girl believes that I can look inside her beautiful little curly-haired head and read her mind, because I knew what the mascot of her class was (French Fries).  Ilana’s son was convinced I was sending a baby home with them because – well because I said I was going to.  Some lies are a little cruel.

I don’t know if it’s great or awful, this lie-telling.  I was convinced for the better part of my childhood that if I wanted to, I could marry Arthur Fonzarelli and get him away from that awful Pinky Tuscadero all because my mother told me in passing that sure, it could happen.  But probably only if I was a good student.  So, I was.  I was even “Student of the Year” in second grade!  All in the hopes of become Mrs. Fonzie.  Seriously.  (I later set my sights on Isaac from The Love Boat.  I believe we can trace my current interest in Pop Culture to these early years…)

So, really.  Lies.  Do you tell them?  Do you think it’s ok?  What’s the most ridiculous one you’ve gotten away with telling your child?  Have you had any backfire?  Tell me in the comments!

11 thoughts on “The Lies We Tell

  1. Hehe. I just told my son there was a sharp-toothed snail up his nose and if he kept picking it, the snail would bite his fingernail off. We enjoyed a whole two weeks of kleenex use until the fear of the demon up his nose was too much to take and he pleaded to be released from the myth. I didn’t want that childhood scar on my conscience so I spilled the beans. He was angry about the lie, but the relief wiped it clean.

    On the other hand, sometimes a lie can be fundamentally important….
    My oldest son was furious for telling him about the Santa Claus/parent link when he was about 9 years old, after repeated requests for the truth. How could I be so cruel to lie to him, and tell him that Santa wasn’t real??? I repented, fired up the ole story again, and all was well, but he never really forgave me. He chose to defend Santa and all things magical until the day he died when he was 11. If I could change the story, I’d have told more lies about magical happenings 🙂

  2. One of my favorite lies was, quite simply, “Tuesday.” As :
    “Mommy, when is Aunt Lisa coming to visit?”
    “Mommy, when can I have a new toy?”
    “On Tuesday.”
    “Mommy, how long is it until Christmas.”
    “It’s on Tuesday.”

    “Mommy, when does ‘Bear in the Big Blue House’ come on again.”
    “It’ll come on tv on Tuesday.”

    Here’s the beauty: Toddlers have no concept of the days of the week, or the length of time it takes to get there. They just want a concrete, solid answer. It seems to assure them so much better than the vague, “I don’t know” or “Pretty soon.” Tuesday seemed to settle their minds and allow them to go on about their day without the constant, “Is it here yet?” questions. Heck, I even gave the Tuesday answer ON Tuesdays, and they were none the wiser–they just assumed I’d let ’em know when Tuesday rolled around.

  3. I lie all.the.time. Sure, Santa and the Tooth Fairy; but also “I’ll be right back,” “We can do xyz later,” “I don’t know why it doesn’t work anymore,” (um, that would be because I took the damn batteries out!), etc. I say you gotta do what you gotta do to get through the day. I don’t lie on the biggies though, I try to be very straight forward and honest when it’s something important.

  4. My biggest lie that came back and bit my backside!! Told my stepson that I used to work at the Candie Store, he was about 5 yo. FYI, this is a strip club, not a sweets store……Came back about 10 years later. I still think it is funny.

  5. I once had the good fortune to catch a group of wiggly kindergartners out of the corner of my eye up out of their seats in the lunch room, about to wreak some kind of havoc. I whirled around, ordered them back to their seats, by name (as I knew their teacher and many of them had siblings in the 3rd grade class I taught). On the basis of that feat, I had the entire kindergarten class convinced for the remainder of the year that I had actual eyes on the back of my head, hidden under my ponytail (why else would I wear my hair the same way every day?). I also had a number of them convinced that I knew their names because when babies are born at the hospital, the hospital gives their moms a special purple pen that the moms use to write the babies’ names on their foreheads. Said purple pen is like invisible ink with a twist: it’s only visible to teachers. I stand by these lies and would tell them again in a heartbeat. I will always remember the faces of those sweet 5-year-olds as they wrestled with whether or not to believe me with big grins on their faces. They knew what I was telling them seemed outside the natural order of things, but their instinct was still to believe me. It brought us all a lot of joy (not to mention kept everyone well behaved around me!). I like to think that when they are adults, some of them will still remember the charade and keep it going with the kids in their lives.

  6. For WAY too long, I kept a lie going with my son. I had a one of those red laser pointers, and when he was just a toddler, the “Magic Red Dot” showed up one day on the ceiling. “Look, buddy, it’s the Magic Red Dot…say hi!”, and when he would, the Magic Red Dot would wiggle around a bit, and generally respond to his vocal and point cues. From there, the Magic Red Dot would make an appearance at least a couple times each year, and because of his unconditional trust of me, he continued to believe in it well past the age most kids figure out about Santa. Finally one day I got sloppy and he saw the thing in my hand…and it hit the fan. Anger and embarassment in equal doses, although I felt the anger more. Bad Daddy.

  7. A friend of mine has his girls convinced that he attended 4 years of Ninja school where he received a degree. He’s pretty sure that it will end poorly.

  8. Isaac?
    My parents told me it was illegal to speak in your car if you were on a bridge or in a tunnel, I was invited to my friends country home and as we were driving through the tunnel I became more and more anxious as there was music playing and everyone would not stop talking. In a small voice that soon became a frantic scream I began yelling that I did not want to go to jail and they should shut up before the tunnel police came. First there was the look of shock and silence they than broke into a laughter that I believe might have caused several of my host family members to wet themselves.

  9. My dad used to tell this one to neighborhood kids, his friend’s kids, any kids but his own.
    “There is a little elf named Ernie who lives in your kitchen ceiling. He is fun and magical and wants to be friends, but is very very shy. Ernie loves eggs. If you want Ernie to come out and play you need to grab an egg from the fridge, yell ‘Hey Ernie, catch!” and throw the egg as high as you can. Ernie will come out to catch the egg and stay and play with you.”
    At least a few kids in the neighborhood tried it. Not all were caught by their parents before they let the egg fly.

  10. i told my niece that when she told a lie, her tongue would turn black. naturally, it was a lie. however, she was 5 and believed it. worked like a charm…. until my sister got a phone call from my niece’s sister that mackenzie was sticking her tongue out to insist she was telling the truth. oops! teehee.

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