We are currently knee-deep in snow here in the Midwest thanks to a recent blizzard, Mother Nature and/or climate change (are all of these things the same?). Therefore with the snow, also comes a big lie that I have to tell my children. “White snow carries millions and millions of lice eggs, along with microscopic bug poop.”
Do I know this to be exactly true? The answer is no. Am I being overly dramatic? Definitely yes. However this exaggeration is the only way to get my middle child to quit eating fallen snow. It would be one thing if she took a quick bite of fresh powder, but I have caught her several times trying to lick the guard rail on our back deck. When I catch her I see flashes of the movie A Christmas Story, except my child does not even need a double dog dare in order to endanger her tongue. My two-year-old son is just as bad, as he will contently lick the bottom of his snow boots the entire ride home from the store if I don’t take them off and throw them into the empty passenger seat. I mean we have a dog, and just because the snow drift is not completely yellow does not mean that urine hasn’t floated near the flakes! It makes me cringe, therefore I lie and scare them with threats of pukes and diarrhea from ingesting bug infested snow. I lie to keep them well. I lie to keep them safe. I lie to keep them sanitary (and myself sane).
Another fib I have been known to tell is “I don’t know”. It is my go to answer when being interrogated by my kids regarding the specific location of a certain toy. Occasionally, I do not know where said toy is located, but the majority of the time, I know its exact coordinates. My husband and I do a quarterly purge around our house, which often means boxing up old toys and delivering them to the nearest landfill or Salvation Army thrift store. It is like a deep seeded radar goes off in my eldest daughter’s brain the moment an old stuffed animal has been discharged to places unknown. She begins looking for it with earnest and all of a sudden can recall every happy moment that occurred with the beat-up, discarded toy. (You know, the one she has not touched for over fifteen months.) My kids are sentimental and I absolutely love that about them, but if I was 100% honest with what happened to all of our “lost toys”, my daughters would be in constant hysterics.
I also toe the truth boundary when it comes to how harsh the world outside our home is for other people. My second grader is slowly being introduced to a society that can be mean and violent, however I still work hard to protect her and keep her young. I don’t want to explain the meaning of homicide or why there are numerous billboards around town urging people to report human trafficking.
While I don’t always outright lie, I usually go with the being extremely vague defense. What is a terrorist? A bad person. Why are they bad? I don’t know (see how I revert back to this untruth, but in all honesty I really can’t understand how some people can be so horrible.) Do they get in trouble a lot? Yes, as they should.
These questions can play out for quite awhile, but I keep answers ambiguous and short. If I act completely bored with the conversation, my kids typically will become uninterested fairly quickly. I know a day is coming for when I will have to give long, straight-forward responses to my children regarding people who want to hurt us and others, and strip away freedoms. If I can keep them innocent just a bit longer, then I am going to take that option every time.
Lying for better behavior is an important mom tool, and one I am not ashamed to use as is necessary. I have been known to threaten in order to get kids to behave. My children once got invited, two weeks out, to a bounce house party. I made veiled threats for those entire fourteen days. Pick up your room, or no bounce house party. Finish your supper, or no going to your friend’s birthday! If you don’t quit whining, I will call so & so’s mother and tell them we can’t make it to the party. These lies are more dangerous to me than any other lies, because I usually don’t mean it. What happens if my kid calls my bluff?
It is a different story if my kids are being outright terrible and deserve a severe consequence. I have no problem with dropping the hammer and following through with a strict punishment if it is warranted. However, I need to remember that idle, nonsensical threats hurt mom and dad more than anyone else. Luckily my kiddos don’t have a sixth sense for my untruths, and typically listen to all warnings as if they are gospel. Which just goes to show the majority of the time, I really do mean what I say.
So am I setting the best example by reaching a means to an end with the occasional lie? Probably not, but this parenting gig is not easy, and sometimes we just have to commit a little bit of perjury to get through the day.