Mommy Liar

“Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny–I’ve been jerkin’ your chain since you were born!” Sophia Petrillo


Generally speaking, the truth is better than a lie.  Lies complicate things, they ruin trust, and they hurt people.  Start with the truth, and you won’t have to worry.

Generally speaking.

We watched the movie “Liar, Liar” the other day, and my son commented, “What would it be like to never be able to lie?”  I just shrugged, but I know what went through my mind.

It would be very hard to parent, for one thing.

Before anyone says something stupid about how you should always tell the truth, stop.  Did you tell your kids to believe in Santa Clause?  How about the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?  Well, you say, those are just harmless lies.  Fine.  But on that same note, there are some truths that do not necessarily need to be shared with children. 

My son is a very intelligent child with his feet solidly based in reality.  However, he’s very naive about certain things.  I know I can’t protect him from ever finding out about the big mean world, but why shove him into it face first?  When he asks questions about something he hears or sees, sometimes I feel like the truth is necessary, and sometimes I smoothly skate by the issue with a few well-chosen words.  My husband remarked once, “Should it worry me how quickly you can come up with that stuff?”  What can I say?  Sometimes my over-active imagination comes in handy.

Now that he’s getting older, I have to be careful.  I want to maintain trust, and still protect him.  It’s a fine line to walk.  There are some questions he hasn’t asked, and that’s ok for now.  We have a pretty open relationship, and I think sometimes he knows maybe I’m not giving him the whole story. 

A good word that comes to mind is “discretion.”  Contrary to what some people think of me, I do not speak everything that pops into my brain.  And a good thing, that, believe me.  Sometimes I hear people say things about how they are telling someone something because “it’s for their own good,” or they are “trying to do the right thing.”  But I wonder…..

The right thing for who, exactly?  I know this is the cliché version of “it’s okay to lie,” but really, what do you say when someone asks you how they look?  Or if you like their new hair cut?  Or their shoes?  The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you like any of those things, as long as they are happy with them, but it will still hurt if you say “Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick!” So you don’t.

My son is no different.  He recently picked out a pair of shoes that I don’t particularly care for, and he loves them.  So you know what?  I love them, too.  I wish he would get his hair cut, but I don’t say so.  There are lots of things about my own past that are true, but he really doesn’t need to know about them, does he? 

His life is pretty uncomplicated right now.  He has a fairly black and white view of things, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  He’s only eleven.  I figure life will give him plenty of reality before it’s all said and done.  My job is to keep him as safe and happy as possible, because I’m his mother. 

Also, I’m a damn good liar.

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One Comment on "Mommy Liar"

  1. Jo
    13/11/2011 at 2:40 pm Permalink

    Yeah, parents do an awful lot of lying. But it’s always for a good reason, or one we think is for the best, anyway. I remember agonizing over telling Maya about Santa Claus, because I was setting her up for devastating disappointment when, years later, she will discover he’s not real and that had LIED to her. But I thought, What about those magical years in between? It’s so wonderful to believe in Santa, can I really take that away from her? But I AGONIZED. And then I realized, guess what? we all survived it. I believed in Santa; I faced the terrible disappointment when I learned he was not real; and I survived. And meanwhile, I remember those young, believing years happily, when Christmas utter magic, all because of Santa Claus.

    Sometimes, lies are for the best.


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