“When we have kids, I don’t want to do the whole Santa lie.”
That’s what my then-boyfriend confessed in one of our when-we-have-kids-so-far-in-the-future talks, and I was pretty taken aback by that statement. No Santa? I mean, why have kids at all then? How could you deprive kids from the bubbling anticipation — from the sparks of magic? Even after learning the truth, I was never angry or resentful toward my parents. You know what I did? I helped keep the lie alive for my little sister because belief > reality, even if only temporary.
(My now-husband changed his tune; he’s an even bigger Santa propagator than I am.)
But I never realized how prevalent lying can be in parenting, and how easy and convenient it is to use a teeny tiny lie to comfort/quiet/explain to them.
And I never expected I’d hate it so much — including the Santa shebang.
8 Things I Lie About 1 of 9
GUILTY! Here are a few things I've caught myself lying about — and I'm not proud of it.
Santa (and other holiday characters) 2 of 9
I still stand by my original opinion. Santa is pure magic and excitement, and one of my favorite parts of childhood. That being said, I never expected to feel so deeply uncomfortable about it. Like, right down in the pit of my stomach — and that pang gets stronger as he gets older and more inquisitive about this red-suited fella. He's now requiring REAL answers to REAL questions, and that whole blending of fact and fantasy makes things muddy.
And it doesn't end with Santa! There's the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and the Elf on the freaking Shelf — and blowing the identity of one (who, collectively, aren't as epic as Santa) compromises the identity of them all, as I imagine them falling like dominos.
Santa is Waaaatching You! 3 of 9
My husband — the SAME man who once swore he'd avoid the "Santa lie" — is now grossly overusing the "Santa is watching" threat, and I cringe every time he does it. Part of it has to do with getting us further entangled in the Santa storyline (I admit it!); part of it has to do with wanting him to behave properly because it's right and not because he'll get stuff; and part of it is STOP THE LIES.
Superheroes 4 of 9
For my son's 4th birthday, my brother-in-law dressed up like Spiderman for his Superhero party. (No harm there, right?) But before the party we thought it might be funny for Spiderman to ring our doorbell and wish him a happy birthday.
"Look out the window and wish for Spiderman," my sister told him. "Then he might come."
So my son — believer in Santa and the Tooth Fairy and other well-executed lies — indeed wished out his window, and then the doorbell rang. Rather than get upset or shy, he invited Spiderman upstairs to show him around, as if it was completely ordinary and expected. But the effects of this harmless prank reach far and wide, especially in our Fantasy vs. Reality lessons. How could superheroes not be real if SPIDERMAN WALKED FOOT IN HIS HOME? He saw him! With his own two eyes! We wouldn't lie to him, would we?
So now I catch him staring out the window, earnestly wishing for his superheroes to appear. And I hate that lie.
Time 5 of 9
This is a lie I'm actively fixing. I used to say things like, "you have 5 more minutes," or "in 10 minutes..." and then go finish whatever I needed to do before getting him into the bath or into bed without really sticking to the clock. It was usually 5-minute-ish, but there have been times where 10 minutes have turned to 15 or 20 — but my son, new to this whole "time" concept — was never the wiser.
And then I realized that it's kind of an A-hole thing to do, because I'm the one who's supposed to be teaching him these things. There he is, just floating around in his no-time space, relying on me to be the clock keeper. He's trying to learn! So I need to do a better job.
What Your Sickness Means 6 of 9
When I was away in college, I called my mom with a question: "I have this pounding headache in the front of my head. What does that mean again? Am I dehydrated?"
"...You know I have no idea, right? I just used to tell you those things to get you to drink more water or eat certain foods or go to bed on time," my mother confessed. And I was totally deflated.
Yet I catch myself doing the same thing. I don't blindly make things up — any recommendations are based on educated guesses or are simply for comfort — but if I'm being honest, I really don't know.
Knowing Anything About the Afterlife 7 of 9
We share our own beliefs and ideas privately as a family, but there's something about those grand claims — that this is definitely what happens when we die — that makes me feel very uneasy. And so I walk a delicate line, balancing my desire to make him feel safe and comfortable with my need to be honest about the mysteries of life.
I Know Everything! 8 of 9
"How did you know that, mom?" he'll ask after I nail a "GUESS WHAT?" game or catch him in the middle of a pee-pee dance.
"I know everything," I'll say semi-jokingly.
"What Are You Eating?" 9 of 9
"What are you eating?" he'll ask as I quietly munch on something crunchy behind the open refrigerator door.
"An apple," I'll respond, wiping away cookie crumbs like I'm wiping away evidence.
Let's be honest: That's one lie I'll probably never stop telling.