There are a lot of aspects of mothering that I wasn’t fully prepared for. I’m talking about the lack of sleep that accompanies a newborn in the house, the feelings of awe and wonder you feel when you gaze at your child, the overwhelming emotions of love and tenderness and fear because all you want to do is the very best for your child, each day of his life.
But the one thing I was most unprepared for is the amount of lying involved with raising my son. I consider myself an honest person. Lying doesn’t come easily to me, in most other situations at least.
With my son, though, lying seems to come easily to me. In all fairness, and to try and make myself feel better, there are different kinds of lies. There are lies that hurt people. There are lies that spare hurting people’s feelings. There are exaggerations and omissions. I tend to gravitate towards the lies that don’t do any harm, but whose purpose is to make a given situation easier and more manageable.
Here are the five lies that are in heaviest rotation in our home:
- The store is closed. My son does’t have the same concept of traffic and parking difficulties that I, a native Angeleno, does. When I know that a trip to one of his favorite bookstores would put us in the car for close to an hour on a Friday afternoon, it’s easier just to tell him that the store is closed. I do follow-up with a trip to the store on a different day, when a trek there would be more pleasurable and less stressful.
- It’s charging. Daddy’s iPad isn’t working because the battery is low and needs to charge. The big screen isn’t ready yet; it needs longer to charge because it’s so big. A flat-out, “No you’re not playing the iPad right now,” “No, you can’t watch PBS Kids right now” would be more honest. But, dealing with a young child’s emotional outbursts after these matter-of-fact replies certainly isn’t easy. A slight fib about an electronic’s need to charge creates a much more harmonious, peaceful home environment.
- I don’t know where it is. Birthday party goody-bags often include small toys and trinkets that my son really doesn’t need. I’m thinking of the pirate’s eye patch and the small bouncy ball that frequently rolls under our couch. While my son is in school, I do randomly purge our home of some of these unnecessary, under-used items. I breathe a sigh of relief, pleased that my son hasn’t noticed their absence, until the day when, out-of-the-blue, my son will inquire about the pirate’s eye patch. At that point, all I can tell him is, “I don’t know where it is.”
- The restaurant/store/museum has a rule. As Mommy, I can remind my son to wear a jacket, but sometimes Mommy’s word isn’t enough. When that happens I will tell my son that our destination has a rule that they won’t admit anyone who isn’t wearing their jacket on such a breezy day. My word should be enough, but let’s not forget we’re dealing with children here, and their logic doesn’t necessarily coincide with an adult’s logic.
- It’s broken. Certain children’s toys make noise. A lot of noise. Incessantly. And there have been a few instances, when I have removed the batteries and feigned ignorance when my young son would suddenly wonder why the toy suddenly wasn’t working. One such toy, a plush version of a character from a Pixar movie, was reincarnated with my son’s imagination. Without the batteries and pre-programmed phrases spouting out, my son spoke for the toy and had the toy interact with some of his other toys. t was on this occasion, that I felt my dishonesty had actually been a good thing and had encouraged my son’s creativity and imagination.