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Lying to the Kids January 22, 2011

Posted by J. in Domesticity.

Now, y’all know I don’t hold much truck with parenting advice or the Mommies that write it.  I don’t spend any time on parenting sites or in parenting areas on purpose.  I avoid them like I avoid broccoli and herpes, broccoli being just slightly more unappealing to me than weeping genital sores.

I started with a link posted by Bezzie about Why Boys Should Have Play Kitchens, to which my only reply is, “Well, DUH.”  I skimmed it over and then, glutton for punishment that I am, I followed a link to read about a phenomenon known as “The Doll Debate,” or “Should Boys Play With Dolls?”  To which I again say, “Well, DUH.”  Though I had a family member recently take a baby doll away from her 6-year-old citing that they were for “girls.”  I said I let Dave play with dolls so that he’ll learn how to grow up to be a good Daddy like his own father.  She had an Ah-Ha moment, but I’m sure her husband won’t let it happen.  The kid also wasn’t allowed to wear Emma’s plastic headband either.  It might make him…you know, gay.

Sorry,  I typed that and then had to go be violently ill.  I’m back now.  *deep breath*

Anyway, after wading through the mire of Mommyland, I found this article: 10 Lies Good Mothers Tell Their Kids. The title was promising.  I won’t say I’ve actually used these lies.  I find these are the kinds of lies used by parents who think their kids deserve some sort of explanation beyond “No,” or “Because I said so.”  So here are the writer’s Top Ten Lies, amended Poops-style, and what I’d really be saying if I chose to waste my breath explaining myself to children.

1. If you keep making that face, it will freeze and stay like that forever!  First of all, this is one I’ve never said because I really don’t care if they’re making faces.  I award points for the best weird face and have been known to go get the camera to capture it for posterity.  On the rare occasion I find them making faces where it might be considered inappropriate, like when viewing the body in a funeral home, I find a simple “Enough” suffices.  As with training a dog, the tone is everything.  No lies required there, really.

2. Your favorite book? We have NO idea where that book is!  Now, in my house, that lie is unnecessary because most of the time it’s probably the truth.  I wish I had a nickel for every library book that’s gone missing around here only to be found on a shelf or in a pile with the millions of books in our personal library.  As it is, I’d have to give those nickels to the library.

I don’t agree with this lie, either.  I know it sucks goat balls to read the same book over and over and over and over and over.  I know you’d rather get kicked in the vagina than read Mr. Brown Can Moo one more frigging time, but it really is how kids learn to read.  It’s painful, but true.  Think of it as a favor you’re doing yourself.  When they can read books to themselves, you are free to have a cocktail and watch Mad Men.  So suck it up and read Goodnight Moon a million times.  When you’re watching Jon Hamm with a buzz on, you’ll thank me.

3. Coffee will stunt your growth.  What we’re really saying is that the coffee in that Dunkin’ Donuts mug is Mama’s medicine, and if you drink it, I won’t have strength enough to put up with you today.  And besides, it’s MINE.  There are some things I shouldn’t have to share.  I’m tired of sharing your saliva.  You want coffee?  Here, have your own cup.  Keep your paws off mine.  Which is why I don’t use this lie either.  “Get your own” works great.

Once, when I was working at Favorites, I picked up a medium iced coffee on my way in to work.  I put it down in Mary’s play area to set the VCR up for her and to help her get her toys out.  I forgot about it for a few hours, when I realized I was getting thirsty and a bit headachy.  I went downstairs and looked everywhere for it and it was nowhere to be found.  I went back up to the office and there, right where I set it down, was a cup with naught but ice and a straw in it.  She was two.  And no, she didn’t climb the walls and she slept just fine.  I think she was more productive that day, actually.  I wonder if caffeine tolerance is a genetic trait.

4. If you don’t wear your coat, you’ll get sick.   Why would you say that?  Why not “If you don’t wear your coat, you’ll be cold.”  Or in my house, “Put some pants on.  It’s too cold for a skirt.”  Emma still decides that I’m wrong and goes out barelegged, but has the good sense not to complain that she’s cold.  They all know I’m not above tossing out an “I told you so” when they have it coming.

5. The dryer ate that shirt that you insist on wearing 5 times a week.  I don’t think I use this one anywhere near enough.  Tanta has actually been so sick of seeing Emma in the same dress that she’s gone out, bought her a new one and kept the old one at her own house.  But my kids are guilty of doing what Larry and I do, in that we’ll just grab whatever clean from the top of the pile.  Not really a house of fashionistas, here.

6. Too much TV will turn your brain to mush! Actually, it will.  But a great way to clear a room of kids is to commandeer the remote, put on a rerun of Law and Order and pick up some knitting.  It says to them “Mama’s gonna be here awhile.  Let’s go play.”  Or watch TV at Tanta’s house.  Maybe she’ll take us shopping…

7. Don’t swallow your gum! It stays in your stomach forever. Actually, it’s more fun to tell them “Don’t swallow your gum, because when you fart you’ll blow a bubble like Brian on Family Guy.”  Personally, I don’t allow gum because I am neurotic like my mother, so this one is moot.

8. If you eat that candy, your teeth will fall out. I’m more likely to say “You won’t like that kind of candy bar;  It has spinach in it.”  I do what I have to for my Snickers fix.

9. Of course we save every piece of your artwork! My kids never ask what happens to their artwork.  I wait until they forget they did it, then I purge it.  They never seem to notice.  Maybe that’s a lie of omission.

10. If you keep picking your nose, it’s going to fall off. Why does this need a lie?  “If you keep picking your nose, people are going to think you’re a pig.  Now go get a tissue.  Don’t eat…OH GOD.  Jesus Suffering Christ, kids are gross.  Pour me another drink and don’t skimp on the Stoli’s this time.”

Of course her Top Ten got me thinking of the REAL Top Ten Lies I Tell or Have Been Told.

10.  Don’t touch that, it’s HOT. Born during the toddler years, the idea that you tell a kid that it’s hot means you really, REALLY don’t want him to touch it.  I’ve told my kids that all kinds of things are hot, but in reality they’re just messy, breakable, or (dare I say it?) MINE. 
9.  Sometimes when boys tease you it’s because they like you. And sometimes they’re insufferable little pricks.  Someday you’ll be able to tell the difference.  If not, I’ll probably see you on Jerry Springer and hang my head in shame.

8.  What you’re feeling is perfectly normal. This one is sometimes the truth, but when it’s not, you give the kid a hug and then as soon as he/she is out of earshot, you call your mom.  Or his/her therapist, as the case may be.
7.  I’m doing this because I love you.
Again, not a flat out lie.  However, it would be more accurate to say “I’m doing this because you have pushed me past the limits of my tolerance and I’ve actually reached the point where I want you to feel at least as wretched as I do, maybe even more.  Yeah, I love you.  If I didn’t, I’d have killed you long before this.  There’s a reason some animals eat their young.”

6. Good job. There’s some debate raging in the parenting world that says we are a generation of parents who overpraises their kids.  Well, as a kid who didn’t get a lot of praise growing up, I don’t think this is a bad thing.  I tell my kids good job when they need positive reinforcement of good behavior, when they’ve put in a good effort (no matter what the outcome), and when they’re doing something they enjoy and clearly want to be praised for (like warbling out a song or pretending to be a ballerina or playing the slide whistle).  I’m a grown woman and would like to hear my mother praise me.  It’s not her way, but I still crave it.  I don’t want my kids to ever crave my praise.
5.  I’m busy. When I’m done doing what I want to do, I’ll do what you want to do.  I’m not here for your constant amusement.   It’s a nicer way of saying  “Go away.  I need some Mama time before my head explodes.”
4.  I’ll miss you. Honestly, when I walk out of the house for some sweet, well-deserved freedom, I don’t give the three of you a spare thought.  When I’m away from you, I’m absorbed in the heady intoxication of being able to hear what the voices in my head are saying.  Trust me, I’m not going to be gone long enough to miss you.
3.  You can get a tattoo/facial piercing/grow dreadlocks  when you’re 18. If you want to listen to me criticize it every time I see you, that is.  It’s your call though.  (This one hasn’t come up yet, but I’m practicing.)
2.  If you get out of your bed one more time, the monster that lives under there is going to grab you by the ankle, drag you under, and eat you bones and all.  Got it? Mama and Papa are about to get our freak on and we don’t want to be interrupted mid-coitus.  If either of us has to put the brakes on again to put you back in bed, the monster under it is going to be the least of your worries.
1.  Mommy and Daddy were just wrestling.



1. Penny Karma - January 22, 2011

Mommy and Mr. Hamm were just wrestling.

2. Yorkie - January 23, 2011

I really, really should not have been eating my fried egg sammich whilst reading this. I actually spewed, sputtered, and choked (that’s what SHE said!). This was AWESOME. I wish I could think of a magazine that would publish this, but at last check, mommy magazines (and mainstream women’s magazines in general) still paint motherhood as perfectly rewarding, beautiful, and a sacred calling where the milk carton is always full, the flowers grow perkily where they are planted, the mini-van never has melted crayons or french fries that resemble toothpicks under each of the seats, and the toilets never back up. And no one needs Prozac.

3. Baboo - January 23, 2011

My Ipad is resting Emma. That is my only lie, and it always works.

4. bezzie - January 23, 2011

Ha ha! I love no. 1.
these remind me of some of the ones my dad used to tell me. Biting and swallowing my nails would rip up my innards was one…

5. Kate - January 26, 2011

The #1 quote, Kate’s-house-version, November 2003: “Go back to sleep, Em, Daddy’s just kicking his feet.”

Eight months later: “Hey, come meet your new brother!”

Sigh. Gotta love a good family event.

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