Before I had kids, I was pretty proud of my honesty, and for the most part, I’m still an honest person. Except when my kids are involved. With them, I’m a liar.
I freely admit it. I tell untruths, spin yarns and tell tall tales. Heck, my pants catch fire on a daily basis. And you know what? It makes my life easier.
For example, if my kids want to ride the pony at the grocery store, but we don’t have the time, I tell them it’s not our turn today, it’s another kid’s turn. It works because they understand the idea of taking turns. Meltdown averted.
Sometimes I lie because the truth is too complicated, or I don’t want them to know the truth. I have some strange food issues, but I don’t let them know it because the last thing I want is for them to suddenly develop an issue with things they don’t want to eat. “Mom, why aren’t you eating ice cream, too?” is a question I get. The real answer is because I’m lactose intolerant, but my answer to them is, “Because I’m saving all the ice cream for you.”
Every once in a while, I get a little impish and just flat-out make up something. My favorite story is when my husband and I convinced our nephew that the area rug in our living room was a flying carpet. As the story flew higher and higher, we eventually told him we sold it to an uncle and made it the uncle’s problem. To this day, it’s a fun family joke.
I do have some parameters though. I don’t lie about the bigger issues: medicine is not candy; death is not sleeping; there is no such thing as a monster under the bed, in the closet or otherwise. Yes, it’s hypocritical. And yes, they believe in Santa Claus.
I know there are a lot of parents out there who always give it to their kids straight, but that’s not me. I love being able to give my kids a bit of magic in their childhood—it’s one of the best parts of being young. Plus, it helps keep my imagination and creativity lubricated. And if it turns out I’m wrong on this, then at least they’ll have something to say to their therapist years from now, right?
– Rebecca Calappi is a publications coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.