Friday, September 11, 2009

When is it ok to lie to your kids?

Do you remember those lies our parents told us - the ones we didn't figure out until we were adults ourselves?

You can't swim for an hour after eating or you'll get cramps and drown. Or... we're tired of watching you kids swim and we want to go inside and play cards and smoke.

Don't go near the train tracks because a train will come by and if you're even ten feet away it will suck you in. Or... we know we're letting you run rampant in this little town so we're going to try scare the crap out of you about the only thing that could really hurt you.

Don't pee in the pool or the chemicals will change color and we'll see exactly who peed. Or... seriously, we're tired of adjusting the pH because you kids are too busy playing to go pee in the bathroom.

I was just thinking the other days about the little white lies we tell our kids. I started lying when I'd want my kids to eat something. M would poke at the meat and say "what's this?" and I knew if I said then he'd say "I hate ". So I'd say "it's frozen dinosaur" or "it's monkey nuts" or "boiled squirrel brains". He used to fall for it, now he just makes that face at me and laughs.

E on the other hand is still in the lying zone. She didn't want to eat the cauliflower (although she was joyfully scarfing down the green beans and broccoli) so I said "But E, you have to eat the cauliflower because it makes your hair grow more pretty princess curls." And as soon as she popped one in her mouth I said "OH! Look at that curl that just grew!" She froze and then clamped her hand right on the top of her head, feeling for a new curl. It was quite cute.

But it can be hard when kids ask you tough questions that you really don't want to answer. We have a policy on honesty. We will tell the truth to the kids ALWAYS, except if it's an adult thing. We're not going to discuss adult things with them. These can include WHY I'm not married to M's daddy (frankly, it's not his business... his dad and I are now better friends and all he needs to know is that we couldn't be friends while married. He does NOT need the details and he won't get them from me!), what a family member said to anger mommy, what mommy thinks about a snotty mom from down the street, why a cousin is a little 'different' (um, because he's crazy?) etc... I mean, really, some of those things don't need to be spoken out loud at all.

I acknowledge that I can be judgmental. I'm working on that. Sometimes I can't really help it... when I see a fellow mom drop her kid off at day care and she's still in her pajamas I can't help but thinking "what the heck are you in a rush for... you got a pillow waiting for you at home??"

But I digress... yet again ... My point is that sometimes I think it's ok to lie to your kids... when it's a funny lie, when it's an obvious lie that they can figure out or when you are too tired and, really, the kids have been swimming since 9 am and it's 3 and I need to get out of the sun.

My other rule is that sometimes it's ok to tell them "that's something between mommy and daddy, it's an adult thing, it's ok and you don't have to worry about that." Hopefully that tides us over until the birds and the bees talk, because I'll have to tell the truth for that one!

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