Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lies I Tell My Kids

This past Sunday, The Hub was off working a side job with his dad. The girls and I were bumming around the house. I usually don't do any housework on the weekends, but since The Hub wasn't home, it really didn't feel like much of a weekend. In fact, it felt more like a Monday, but with an extra kid to entertain. I decided to get a jump on the next week's chores and vacuum the carpet. My kids like to pretend that the vacuum cleaner is a scary monster out to get them. Most days, I play along and chase after them yelling, "Get on the couch before you get sucked up!" This time, I wasn't in the mood to run around. My eldest daughter, S, wasn't either. She was reading a book and was pretty annoyed by the noise. However, my youngest daughter, B, is always ready to run around and scream, so when I plugged in the vacuum, she was already standing on the couch and preparing to battle the vacuum monster.

As I made my way around the room, B was running back and forth between the living room couch and the foyer. It's too complicated to set up exactly how "what happened next" happened without pictures and video replay, so I'll just give you the Reader's Digest version. Basically, B tripped and landed face first into the foyer tile floor. The impact was so great that her head actually bounced back and slammed into the floor a second time. I've heard that people will swear that time slows down when they witness something horrific. I tell you now, it actually happens. It was the longest half second of my life and I couldn't do anything except stand there and watch. 

B jumped up, cupped her mouth with her little hand and screamed. I ran over, picked her up, and pulled her hand away from her face. Blood. Blood everywhere. 

Like this, only with a little more blood.

I am a firm believer that things that reside on the inside of the body should stay inside the body. Blood needs to stay inside the body. When I saw it gushing from my daughter's face, I felt a little faint. Okay. A lot faint. I fell back onto the couch with B still in my arms. S, was already buzzing around asking a ton of questions about what just happened. Fighting the urge to completely black out, I quietly asked S to grab a wash cloth and run it under some cold water. B is wailing now because she sees her own blood pooling in her hand. S returned with a wet wash cloth in record time. She was so fast that I actually took a second to praise her for following directions and moving with such speed. Right before I started wiping the blood off my little girl's face, I took a deep breath and said with a smile, "It's okay, baby. I promise. Everything is okay." I just lied to my daughter. I had no idea how bad her injuries were and I doubted my ability to maintain my composure if her injuries were really gruesome.

Once I determined the blood was not coming from her nose, I moved to her lips. They were extremely swollen but they were not cut. Oh shit. It's her mouth. Keep in mind, B is still screaming at the top of her lungs. I gently pull back her top lip. I don't see her top two teeth. I see a lot of blood, but no teeth. Oh. My. God! Wait! Wait! Nope, they're still there. They were just covered with blood. Turns out that B bit the inside of her upper lip with her two top teeth. It was a pretty gnarly gash, but not bad enough for stitches. Her teeth were a little wiggly, but not enough to warrant a trip to the dentist. Her top lip swelled to Angelina Jolie proportions. It took about an hour and two icy pops to stop the bleeding and the crying, but B was fine. I didn't have to make an emergency room visit, no stitches needed, and no teeth in a cup of milk. It really was okay, just as I promised. My lie ceased to be a lie and I was relieved.

After I came down from my adrenaline rush, I thought about how I told my bloody kid that everything was okay. I didn't know that it was. For all I knew, it wasn't okay and I was terrified that she did some major damage to her grill. I lied to keep her calm. I needed her to stay still and let me poke around a very sensitive wound. Freaking her out with the truth would have made the situation that much worse. They say, "A lie is a lie." Fine. I lied to my kid. Even when I tell them not to tell lies, I told a lie. In fact, I tell them lies all the time. Truthfully? I don't feel bad about it one bit. I can justify each lie...

Lies I tell my kids to keep them safe and healthy:

  • "Broccoli makes your hair grow super long and super fast!" Actually, any food they don't want to eat at the time can work here. You would be amazed how many foods have super hair growth properties. I even go as far as to "measure" their hair before and after dinner, just to prove my point.
  • "The Tooth Fairy does not pay full price for rotten teeth!" If the Tooth Fairy has to shell out money to get those baby teeth filled, she does not shell out quarters for those teeth when they fall out. I'm not above scaring my kids into brushing their teeth.
  • "The ice cream truck driver is actually a monster in disguise trying to catch kids and eat them." I save money and the kids don't beg for ice cream treats when that creepy old van covered in faded Good Humor stickers drives down our street. 

Lies I tell my kids to keep the peace:

  • "Yes, I'd love to read Elmo Saves Christmas to you again!" ... for the twentieth time... in July.
  • "Marathon of Dora the Explorer? Count me in!" I didn't want to watch The View anyway.
  • "No, monsters don't live in your closet. Go to sleep!" Of course, this is a big ol' fat lie. Monsters do live in closets and under the bed and in the basement and the attic and the toilet... See: My Dark Secret
  • "No. Sorry! I don't have any gum." Yes, I do. But, it's my last piece and your sister will want one, too. I also don't want to cut gum out of your hair later.
  • "I just got a text from Santa Claus. It says, 'I am watching you fight with your sister. I am not pleased.'" This lie takes a bit of planning, but as long as both kids still believe in Santa, I'm using it. I replace The Hub's caller ID picture on my phone with a picture of Santa. All I have to do is let The Hub know that the kids are misbehaving and he sends a text to my phone. 100% satisfaction guaranteed! 

Santa just sent me ANOTHER text...
He says he saw you pick your nose and he wants you to stop.
It's gross.

Lies I tell my kids to encourage them:

  • "You did a beautiful job on my nails!"
I have my own personal manicurist. Jealous?
  • "I can't believe you beat me in Candyland again!" I only let them win until they start the first grade. After that, it's official rules only. I don't want them to believe (1) They will win every game and (2) that I really suck that much at Candyland. 
  • "Oh honey, this picture looks just like me! It's beautiful!"
S drew this portrait of me for "Muffins With Mom" day in Pre-K. (Spring/2011)
There are so many bits of awesome in this picture.

I know there are people out there who will argue that I am teaching my kids that it's okay to lie. Sure. Okay. I can accept that. I believe that white lies are part of living in polite society. For example: Let's say your favorite aunt gave you an ugly sweater for your birthday. Like most folks, you will say thank you and that it's a lovely sweater. But, you're either going to return the sweater, re-gift it, or only wear it when your dear ol' aunt comes around. You just lied. If you were honest and told your aunt that you have no intention of ever wearing that hideous piece of wool crap and that you worry about her fashion sense, you would most likely hurt her feelings. You would also look like a real jackass. I don't think every scribble put on paper is a masterpiece, but when my 3 year old daughter, B, shows me her latest attempt to draw a flower, (or is that a horse... oh, wait. I see it now... it's an airplane) I tell her I love her work and I'm proud of her for trying so hard. Then I tell her to keep practicing. I know that if I told B that she lacks artistic abilities (like her mother), she would stop trying. I would rather have a fridge full of flower-horse-airplanes then no art at all. 

I know that little lies may cause some serious damage. I know because my mother told me a terrible lie when I was a child that caused irrevocable trauma to my psyche.  One night, I was pushing my food around on the plate and sulking because, yet again, my mom was forcing me to choke down a giant mountain of peas. I really hated peas. When she realized that all her threats of going to bed hungry or not getting a dessert did not shake my will, she resorted to guilt (like any good Irish Catholic mother would do). 

"Terese, just take one little bite. Just one and then you can leave the table." 
Fine. Just one bite. That's it.
"Good girl. But, wait! You just ate the little kid pea. What about her mom and dad? They're still on the plate! You just made the little kid pea an orphan! You can't separate the family, Terese! Can you hear the mommy and daddy pea? They're saying, 'Oh no! Our daughter is gone! We're so sad!'"
Oh no! Okay, I'll eat the mommy and daddy pea, too.
"But, what about the grandparents?"

To this day, I have to eat every pea on my plate or I will feel extreme guilt for breaking up the family.

Well played, mom. Well played.


  1. I'm seriously crying laughing at my desk. That was awesome! Ps: Mom really screwed me up with that pea thing...too bad I feel the need to keep the entire pizza family well as not leaving any beer left behind (it's cold and dark in my fridge).

    1. Dear Jules,
      (I choked on my coffee while reading your comment!)
      You never leave beer behind!! Or wine... The crushed grapes need to stay together!
      Even though she really messed up her kids, Mom should be proud that she taught us the importance of family. Whether it is our family or a family of peas... you don't leave anyone behind.
      Love you sis,

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    1. I remember that!!
      As much as I tease her about messing us up, I think some of my best mom moments come from doing the things she did with us with my kids. I hear myself giving the same advice she gave us. I've picked up her mannerisms. The best thing about her is that she can laugh at herself... I think that was the most important thing I picked up from her. If I couldn't laugh at myself and the crazy moments, I wouldn't have lasted this long. I would have sold my kids to the gypsies by now. ;)

  3. I am a believer in lying to kids. Lol. It sounds so much worse than it actually is. ;)


    1. Dear Jess,
      I won't tell your kids that you lie, if you don't tell mine! ;)

  4. I seriously read this 6 times!

  5. I don’t think you are lying at all; I believe you are being a marvelous mommy!

    1. Dear Katerina,
      Why thank you! I just hope my kids think I was being a marvelous mommy when they find out that I was just kidding about the ice cream truck.

  6. Another Masterpiece! I don't feel guilty any longer for the lies I told my children.. they worked! I love the pea story, wish I knew that one back in the day. The Santa thing is awesome... we used the phone on the wall back in the day. Someone called and we pretended it was Santa. You are an awesome woman, wife and MOM!!

    1. Dear Anon,
      Thank you! The trick with the pea story is that it only works on sensitive kids. My kids didn't fall for it. That's why I went with the hair growth story.
      My dad used to call Santa when we were naughty. The only problem with that was since he called Santa, he was the snitch and we knew that we had to be good around him. When Santa "calls" or "texts" me, I am not the bad guy... just the messenger. It also increases the paranoia level for the kids. So they behave even when I'm not watching. Clever, no?


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