The Guardians made me do it!
Is it okay to lie to our kids for any reason? I think this question comes up a lot when you’re trying to make all the best decisions as a parent. Or,trying to convince them that Santa has elves looking in the window, keeping an eye on their every awful move. How do we decide what’s okay and what’s not – if any of it? Especially when lying is at the top of the no-no list, like in our house. And how do the Guardians really f#@* with our perfect plans?
We have two children dropping teeth right now at the rate of meth addicts. The other night we were warned by both of them that they were certain they had one coming out that night. It had been a rough month financially, and I scrambled around to see if we had our family rate of $1 per tooth available. Nope. Thank goodness I had set myself up for success when my children first started asking way too many, overly detailed questions – I swear they were shining a light in my face and everything!- about the fat guy, twinkle toes, and the scariest thing alive, (well, that’s my personal opinion that adulthood has not changed) that overgrown, big-headed bunny. I refer to this as “My Big Book of Mommy Lies”, but shorten that to “My Book” when talking to the kids. I can ruin their faith in me later in life when they learn the truth about the book, among other things that I’m sure to totally disappoint them in.
Here’s the story of how I invented my book
I did NOT want to lie to my children about anything EVER! That was my plan as I baked that first bun in the oven. There certainly is no need to for the first couple of years, at the very least. Then, I had people asking me when Marco was about 3 if he believed in Santa Claus. Well, he’s seen him, does that count? I felt it was too early to get into details with him about how Christmas Eve was supposed to work. So, we sat him on Santa’s lap, and didn’t worry too much about it. But, why did people want to talk about it so much, like it was such a big deal? Because it very well may be the first lie you tell to your child. I heard every opinion from who cares, ride out the magic as long as you can, to my cousin’s input, which totally made sense to me – when they find out Santa isn’t real, are they going to think I was lying to them about God,too? Crap. This whole thing was more serious than I thought. I better think it through. So, I did. Here’s what I came up with:
Can I lie to them?
Lying. Never okay, and will never be tolerated in our house. But, wait. What about when my adorable little girl gets to that age that she wants to stick 30 barrettes in her hair and asks me how it looks? (I was spot-on with this vision in my crystal ball, by the way.) Am I going to tell that little angel face that she looks like one of those Barbie dolls that are carried around everywhere and dragged through the mud, so her “mommy” decides to put her in the washer and dryer, and now she looks like Insane Asylum Barbie? Not a chance, I’ll tell her (and have) that it looks gorgeous, but let me fix those ones that are falling out so she doesn’t lose them, and I grift a few into my pocket. As great a person and parent you may think you are, it is impossible to never tell a lie, even small, to your babies, unless you’re a total b*tch. Harsh, right? But it would take a heart of steel to have told my girl that it doesn’t look good. Not that we shouldn’t take some responsibility for letting them continue in that dream world as they get older. If American Idol had continued, none of my kids would’ve been in the blooper reels. I would have told them that I was just too close to judge their ability, because every child’s voice sounds like that of an angel to their mother, and then direct them to the most unfailingly honest, but nice person I know.
So what about all the magical things in life for little ones? The Guardians? Can I be okay with lying to them about something that won’t hurt their feelings if they know the truth? Yup. I don’t fear that my kids won’t believe anything I ever tell them when they find out there’s no Santa. We’re teaching our kids to not treat every situation in life as one and the same. In order for them to have open minds, and to function, they have to see more than black and white. Sure, after they find out they may question the next few things we say – ” Is this like the Santa thing, or are you telling me the truth?” They’ll get past this, though. I personally don’t know of any child who didn’t move on from it just fine.
Mommy’s book of lies is born
Now, for the next step. How would I pull this off? Parents drive themselves absolutely, bat-shit crazy trying to cover tracks to keep the lie alive. Even with planning, there are those unforseen instances . Example: Tooth fairy is trying to deliver money, but little brother is in same room and still wide awake! What to do? Well, the book takes care of that. And here’s the great thing about it. It can be “delivered” to your house at any time, not just the day you bring your first child home from the hospital, like it did with us. This book gave me instructions on how Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. would work in our house. It also let me know how to contact all of them. They know not to compare stories with other kids about how it works in their houses, because everyone gets a different book, and sometimes the other kids don’t even know it exists!
Here’s a bit of what my book includes: Santa and Easter Bunny work with me. Santa’s elves help keep an eye on them, but I report to Santa,too. I will discuss a lot about what they want, because Santa sometimes needs more info. This is great if you can’t find something they want, but want to suggest an alternative. I buy the stuff, too, so you may see gifts stored in the basement, and my budget has more to do with what you get than how good you’ve been, like on the Santa-only plan. After we know they’re asleep, we’ll signal Santa to come and then help him put the gifts out. This is a save in case anyone wakes up and sees us. I’ll talk more about Santa in our house in a holiday post. Oh, and what about when kids in class started talking about that little shit Elf on a Shelf? Easy. I had requested that we didn’t get ours until all of my children were born. He was probably coming this year. And he did. Was I going to stress about making sure I moved Hershey Doodis Nadler every night? Hell no! Because I told my kids that the letter that came with him for just the mommy and daddy said that sometimes when he finds a spot he likes he may want to return to it for a few nights. Also, because they’re such great kids, we got a special spray for him, so he doesn’t lose his magic if we touch him. Carefully, and adults only. Easter Bunny works about the same. Our Tooth Fairy is awesome. When they lose a tooth, they give it to us. We have to make sure they’re asleep before she’ll come, then we’ll slip it under their pillow. This way, if they woke up while we were slipping money in, we would abort mission and say we were trying to put the tooth under, but they woke up so now we can’t. Obviously, we never leave the tooth and just plant the money.
So, how did my book help the other night when we had no money to give if they lost their tooth? Well, this book has a shit-ton of information in it, so I can go back and reference 😉 whenever needed. I told them both that their tooth fairy was on vacation right now – she had just sent me an email – and wanted me to let the kids know that, never fear, if that tooth came out in the next couple of days she would take care of it as soon as she got back. She would let us know which night to stick the tooth under their pillow. Crisis averted. The book can be adapted to what we need in any specific situation. Except – “Mommy, so and so said (whoever) isn’t real.” There are two options here, depending on the child and age. If they (and you!) may not be ready for them to quit believing, the standard movie answer works. We’ve had to use it. Telling them that these things are real for those that believe works often when they are younger. The other option is to consider their age, and they really just may be ready to move on. You’ll know which to do.
Yes, I’ve escalated lying to my kids to almost an art form, if I do say so myself, even though we constantly teach and preach honesty in this house. Some of you may be ready to write my name in for President. But, seeing the glazed-over look in their eyes when they’re experiencing part of a fairytale world for a moment, instead of the sometimes harsh reality of the real one, makes this mommy feel a little less guilty about this one more thing I’m doing to ruin them. 🙂
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