One Christmas when I was very young, my brother and I were inundated with gifts of Super Nintendo Games. I believe it was Aladdin and a Super Scope in one beautiful Christmas morning haul for a couple of pre-Tweens. In our joy of seeing the new games it did not even dawn on my brother or I that we did not actually unwrap the games. There was no cellophane casings, no tape around the box flaps; totally new games without any of the usual packaging.
Had we thought of it at the time, my brother and I would have assumed the games “found their way off the back of a truck” or were “gifted” to our parents. Our parents are far from nefarious people, but would have been the only plausible explanation to two wee kids.
Well into our adulthood, we were told the truth. My mother, father and uncle opened the games and played them Christmas Eve night and well into Christmas morning. They needed to learn how to play the game, of course, should my brother or I have any questions during our own run through.
My oldest son is not quite aware of the world yet. As far as he is concerned, when he goes to sleep so do mom and dad. There are some nights though when we are found to be liars. He will need to use the restroom or wake up scared a few hours after going to bed and to his surprise, we are not in our bedroom. He’ll cry a little, we’ll race upstairs and usher him back to bed.
“Where were you guys?” he whimpered the other night.
The truth would have destroyed him. We were eating cookies and watching Doctor Who. So we told a parental lie and he closed his eyes.
One day we will be able to tell him that yes, we eat ice cream and watch movies when he goes to sleep. Today though, parental lies rule the night. It does not feel good, but it is the path of least resistance. At 10:00pm, the easy way wins over the hard way. He’s a smart enough kid and likely he’ll figure it out on his own soon enough. We tried the “mom and dad have a different bedtime” response once, but he rebutted with “if you go to bed you’ll be rested for tomorrow.” At that moment we knew any of our reasons or excuses would be destroyed by four year old logic; the strongest logic of them all.
My wife and I talked for months in the lead up to the firstborn’s birth about the touchy subjects to broach with kids; Santa, tooth fairy, boogey men. We thought it best to start our relationship with this new little human with nothing but truth and honesty. At two years old he asked what happened to the sun at night. We explained planetary rotation, day and night cycle; at the end of the discussion we gave up and said the sun went to sleep.
Parental lies, those small fibs we have to tell sometimes, are not my favorite thing, but by golly are they necessary.
How about you, dear reader, how do you feel about untruths from parent to child?