Hello, my name is Brandi, and I am a liar. But we all are. I can’t think of any person unless they are an infant or non-verbal child or adult who hasn’t told a lie at some point.
There are different types of lies. White lies are my specialty; harmless lies often used to spare someone’s feelings. Malicious lies are different, used to get someone else into trouble or to protect yourself from trouble. I don’t make a habit of maliciously lying because I do have a conscience. I see the grey area with those types, which is where lies of omission live.
Being a parent has turned me into the biggest liar I can imagine, for example:
Child (said in high-pitched whine): “Mom, why didn’t you order breadsticks?”
“Because they were out.” —This response works often.
“The Tooth Fairy/Santa won’t come if you’re not asleep.” —I am the Tooth Fairy and Santa and would be the friggin Easter bunny too if we did that in my household.
“Sure, that loud, obnoxious toy is waterproof; you can take it in the tub with you.”—Oh, damn, my mistake. Sorry.
“Wow, honey, that drawing/toy/joke/back-flip off the sofa, etc. was amazing/great/spectacular!”—No sense in crushing all their dreams all at once.
You get the idea, right? We as parents tell lies to our children all the time. We avoid the truth for as long as we can to spare them heartache and make the innocence of their childhood last as long as possible. My son is eight, so I know our time is limited with him believing in things like Santa. He’s asked me once, point-blank if Santa existed. I was prepared to tell him the truth but instead deflected by asking him what he thought. That bought me another year—I think.
Now, I don’t lie when it really matters. When the kids ask me if they are getting a shot or if the shot is going to hurt, I tell them the truth. There’s no sense in being cruel by not letting them prepare themselves.
I don’t recall when I learned the truth about Santa. It must not have been too traumatic; otherwise, my memory of the occasion would be more intact. So there was no grand betrayal of feeling like my parents had lied to me. Same goes with the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny. I know my time is limited with keeping the magic alive with Drew, but I still have a few more years with Meredith, which means making Drew my co-conspirator. That’s what I did with my mom to keep the magic alive for my younger sister, Kelli.
Meredith is actually asking more questions than Drew did at her age. She was extremely concerned about Santa’s reindeer this year since it was raining when she went to bed on Christmas Eve. I effortlessly told her not to worry because everyone knows that Santa’s reindeer have special raincoats for bad weather. It comforted her. It was also a comfort to both kids that even though we were out of cookies, Santa had emailed us and asked for graham crackers instead. Yeah, in our house, we also email letters to Santa rather than mail them. It helps Santa know what to buy.
We have our own lies about Santa in our house. Santa brings one present and puts something small in the stockings for the kids and dogs. The rest is from Mom, Dad, grandparents, and other relatives. And, we rarely get everything we’ve asked for.
Despite being a hypocrite, I do try to teach my children the difference between white lies and mean ones. Like how they should never tell someone that they don’t like a present, just to thank them for their thoughtfulness. And we all lie by omission when we keep our mouths shut when we don’t have anything nice to say.
In our house, punishments get doubled if you’re caught lying maliciously. My son learned that lesson the hard way recently and ended up with a two-week loss of video games, television, and the iPad. I think it was as hard for my husband and me as it was for Drew. Luckily for us, Drew is a terrible liar.
At some point in the near future, I predict I will have the conversation with Drew and Meredith where I confess all the lies I’ve told. I will teach them my devious ways so that their children can experience the magic of childhood too. Sometimes, my kids already know when I’m lying. A common practice for me, when asked too many questions that I have already answered several times, is to answer with the final saying of: “Because unicorns like to jump over rainbows.” Once I’ve answered with that, they know the conversation is over.
-Brandi Easterling Collins