By: Kate Henderson
If you’re anything like me, before you had kids, you swore up and down you would never lie to them. Ever. But, much like your plan to lose the baby weight before you started paying college tuition, that was a pipe dream. Kids are like little detectives – they will stop at nothing to get what they want. Sometimes you have to tell a little white (or giant white whale) lie to maintain your own sanity. It’s really not because you are a big meanie face…though your kids might disagree.
What you say: We are out of cookies.
Why you say it: Look, they can see you wiping crumbs from the sides of your mouth. Heck, when you told them you were out, you spit little pieces of cookie dust into their eager little faces. There is no denying you ate a cookie. But it’s 15 minutes before dinner (bed, bath, school…) and you’re not feeding a baked round of sugar and fat deliciousness to your sugar- and fat-activated child. You’re not stupid. No, you’re a liar. And that’s ok. Welcome to the club.
What you say: I will make dinner (breakfast, lunch, snack…) in two minutes.
Why you say it: You are in the middle of something *very* important. Like texting your friends about your next mom’s night out or pinning delicious, healthy recipes and need a few more minutes. You know this will take more than two minutes. You know you will keep saying, “two more minutes” until they scream loud enough to get you out of your chair and slap together peanut (or sun) butter sandwiches with a whole apple (come on, we all know the real reason we make them eat the skin is so we don’t have to peel and slice them) on the side. It’s OK. We all have days like that. Welcome to the club.
What you say: If we have time…
Why you say it: You know you will not have time to play that board game (go to the toy store, ride the little mechanical school bus in the mall…). And even if you do have time, it’s never going to happen. You know this. And yet, you say it anyway. Why? Because it’s way easier than hearing the cries of protest when you say no. So you lie. You lie like a rug. And that’s ok. Welcome to the club.
What you say: It’s bedtime.
Why you say it: It’s only 7:24. Bedtime isn’t technically until 8. But they have been up since 5:30 and nobody has napped. One of them just fed the fish a chicken nugget and the other is using permanent markers to draw a comic book… on the wall. Look, you’re done. You are so done. And there is no way you can hold it together for 36 more minutes. So… it’s bedtime! Yay! Except it’s not. And you know it. But you don’t care. So you lie. Welcome to the club.
What you say: We’re out of batteries.
Why you say it: You are not out of batteries. You have a whole stash of them in the hall closet. Up high. Where the kids can’t find them. Those are the batteries for the TV remote (and probably for flashlights and smoke detectors, but really for the TV) and you know they are there. And you know that they will fit into singing, dancing, back-flipping Elmo and the remote control ambulance with “real siren sounds!” You know this. But your sanity simply will not allow you to put them in those favorite toys. And come on, they have played with them non-stop for days. Everyone (read: you) could use a break for something new. How ‘bout some nice, quiet crayons? So you lie. It’s OK. Welcome to the club.
What you say: I don’t know.
Why you say it: This is my favorite. My kids probably think I’m the dumbest person they know. I’m totally fine with that. I think I bust this one out 20 or 30 times a day. At least. What does that word mean? I don’t know. Except I do know, I just don’t feel like explaining why I called that man a bad word. What’s for dinner? I don’t know. Except I do know. I just don’t feel like listening to you complain about it. Tuna noodle casserole is a perfectly acceptable meal. Why can’t I play with Susie? I don’t know. Except I do know. But I can’t tell you that Susie is a biter and her mommy thinks we need to indulge her oral needs. Yup, “I don’t know” is a glorious catchall lie. You know you use it. It’s ok. Welcome to the club.
I want to be clear: I am not suggesting we lie about big things. I think it is very important that our kids know they can trust us. So whenever possible, I tell the truth. They know about the birds and bees (age appropriate, of course). They know that our sweet cats have gone on to the giant little box in the sky. They know it’s ok to not always like everyone but you always have to be nice. I have confessed to accidentally breaking favorite toys. Whenever possible, it’s best to go with the truth. But sometimes my own sanity (or keeping them from repeating things on the playground) is more important. And so is yours.
And that’s OK.