While in the hospital with my firstborn son, my mother offered advice on only one single topic. Never one to impose her views on her children, it was rare to find her so vocal on an issue that she obviously held dear. Even in my exhausted state of shock and bewilderment, I remember her words as though she spoke them just yesterday:
Marianne, it is so important to always be honest with your children.
Throughout the next eight years, I have compiled an infinite list of lies told to my kids. It started during the toddler years (“If you don’t eat your carrots, hair will grow from your feet”) and continues today (“God only gives you a million words per lifetime, I’d recommend you start conserving a few”).
Call it manipulation. Call it deception. But I lie. A lot.
I am completely incapable of lying to regular people. When my husband asks who ate the last piece of lemon meringue pie, I fess up. When the neighborhood ladies suggest I host one of those purse/candle/jewelry parties, I answer honestly with, “I hate that stuff.” When I get nominated for room-mother responsibilities, I readily admit to my lack of craftiness and overall dislike of children.
But for some odd reason, I lie like a rug to the boys. I suppose it stems from the inefficiency of the truth in trying to get my kids to do something. And before the angry mommy brigade starts calling for my head, keep in mind the list of “acceptable” lies of motherhood:
The Easter Bunny
The Tooth Fairy
What it really means when mommy and daddy say they are “taking a nap”
So just because my pack of lies is not as socially acceptable as others, I don’t think that is reason enough to string me up by my toes. My motives for lying span nutrition, personal safety, and general explanation fatigue. Sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to tell a kid that not washing his hands will make fingers fall off. I mean who really has the time and energy to provide a diagram and lengthy dissertation on germ transmission and the lasting effects of Hepatitis A? Not I.
I wish I could say that I am working on this shortcoming, or that I am overcoming my aversion to the truth while raising children.
But I would be lying.