Sometimes lying is part of parenthood. It takes children a long time to figure out what we’ve been fibbing about—you know, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, what vegetables you hid in tonight’s dinner and what really happened to her goldfish (she’s a little suspicious of the running away to the goldfish circus thing).
Really, it seems like we try to get away with it as long as possible. We will continue to deny unpleasant information, like the goldfish’s sudden and unfortunate death, until our children present us with clear and indisputable evidence. Even then, there’s no guarantee we’re coming clean.
As a parent, I’m a big fan of the loophole lie. For example, I can confidently and truthfully tell my child that there’s no cauliflower in her mashed potatoes because she’s not eating mashed potatoes. She’s eating mashed cauliflower. I didn’t technically tell a lie, and she just ate a large amount of cauliflower. Amazing, right?
I try not to feel too badly about the blatant untruths and occasional loophole lies I tell my daughter when we talk about school, which she’s convinced is the equivalent of an amusement park. I just can’t bring myself to break her (school) spirit, so I go along with it.
She can’t wait to start school and she insists on carrying her “pack-pack” (backpack) and lunchbox around the house. She’s excited about learning, having a nice teacher, and even cafeteria food.
I don’t really have the heart to tell her the cold, hard truth about these things, so I smile and pretend that cafeteria food is my favorite. I say school is exciting and fun.
I pretend that having homework is a good thing and class “pizza parties” consist of more than a slice of cold pizza and a Dixie cup with generic soda in it. She buys it, which is a god thing, because she looks so cute with her backpack on.
Another thing that warrants outright lying to your children? Doctor’s office visits and shots. Based on the things I say to my daughter, you’d think the doctor’s office is my favorite place in the world. I have to build it up like it’s incredibly fun and totally pain-free to lure her into her checkups and the unavoidable “needle sticks” (shots) that come along with it.
She seems to have really short-term memory of the discomfort and all around yuckiness of shots because by the time her next checkup comes around, she’s singing in the backseat and excited about reading the 15-year-old children’s books in the waiting room.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m singing with her and hyping up those stickers they hand out. It just feels a little sad because I know what’s really going to happen in that cold and Lysol-scented prison.
But, hey, I already did my time. I’ve been vaccinated and had my blood drawn enough to cover me for the rest of my life. I hope.
So, we love our children, and we want to give them the best life we can.
We teach them to always tell the truth and be caring yet critical human beings. We do all this while we tell “harmless” parenting white lies that seem to make things easier (Shots don’t hurt. This tofu tastes just like chicken. Santa Claus is coming to town. Everyone in the world is your friend.).
Is that really so bad? Only time will tell if my parenting experiment turned out successfully.
Until then, I’ll be dubiously mixing vegetables into trusted dinner items and pretending that her presents come from a large, jovial man with a penchant for gift-giving and cookies.
Lebanon native Debra Fulcher Carpenter writes when she isn’t studying, or when she’s procrastinating. Mostly when she’s procrastinating. She is a young housewife, student and mom. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at motherinterrupted.com.