Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Not Lying. It's Choosing Your Battles.

A few days ago, Ben and I took Lila out for lunch at a cute little local diner. The place was decorated for St. Pats day with the typical green sparkly shamrocks and clovers all over the place.

One large decoration caught Lila’s eye. It looked like this:


Here is the exact conversation that happened between us:

Lila: What is that called?

Me: It’s a shamrock, or a 3-leafed clover.

Lila: No it’s not.

Me: Yes. It is.

Lila: There is no such thing as a 3 leafed clover. Only 4 leafed clovers.

Me: Actually, all clovers have 3 leaves. But if you find an extremely rare one with 4, it is considered lucky. Because it’s so rare.

Lila: Clovers only have 4 leafs.

Me: Did you hear what I just told you?

Lila: Yes, but I don’t believe you. That’s not a clover.

Me: Okay. I am lying. That’s just a weird Irish Tree.

If you have ever tried to win a debate with a four-year-old, you know that you cannot win because they have no desire to know the truth and basically don't give a shit about actual facts. Their only objective is to infuriate you.

Later that same day, we had a similar conversations in the car when Prince's 1999 was playing on the radio:

Lila: Is this the song that was played at your friend’s wedding?

Me: I don’t think so.

Lila: Yes it was.

Me: They weren’t playing this kind of music at all. 

Lila: This song was played at the wedding.

Me: If you're so sure, why did you even ask me?

Lila: I think it was.

Me: Okay, it probably was.

Lila: I KNEW IT!

Most of the time, it is best not to even try to present actual facts, because they don't care.  They just want to be right.  There are usually a thousand times each day where I  find myself just letting her think that she is right even when she is CLEARLY wrong.  I will usually tell her the truth once, and if she argues I just tell her she's right.  For example:

“ You were wearing a red shirt yesterday.” I wasn’t but I guess black is close enough to red.

“50 plus 50 equals 150.” No, but I am not going to find a calculator to prove you wrong or pull out a hundred pennies to demonstrate, so whatever.

“Macaroni and cheese is good for you.” Well, it’s not, but since the only other thing you are eating this week is Junior Mints I am going to go with it.

“When I am 12, I will be old enough to have my own house.” OH, if only that were so!

This brings me to something I saw recently on the Today Show about how often parents lie to their children and how it can apparently completely ruin their lives and give them a lifetime of trust issues.   Of course, the media ran with this as a theme and took every opportunity to have “experts” come on and tell parents that if you lie to your kids, you may even turn them into crack addicted schizophrenic sociopaths (my summary, not an actual statement).

I, for one, think this is TOTAL BULLSHIT. Childhood is specifically suited for made up stories and mythologies that help to make the world make sense. I refuse to believe that Santa or Leprechauns or wishing on a star are things that are going to destory my kid's psyche.  Plus, I don’t know you, but I learned about religion at an early age and there is no one out there claiming that any of those myths are psychologically damaging.
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Ok, this kid was probably traumatized.  She looks PISSED!

In addition to the lies by omission, where I refuse to spend spend 3 hours trying to convince Lila that she is NOT a hyena, there are the actual lies that I have told to make my life easier. 

When Lila was 2, we had to take her bottle away (don’t judge…it was my mothers fault as you can see for yourself
HERE).  We decided that this was also the perfect time to get rid of her crib and get her a toddler bed.  So we concocted the ba-ba fairy.  The ba-ba fairy came one night whie she was over at Grandma’s and left her a note saying that she was taking all her ba-ba’s and leaving her wonderful new bed and a big pack of sippy cups.  It was just easier than attempting to explain that at 2 years old, having a bottle was damaging her teeth and that other moms were saying I was guilty of some backwards form of child abuse for allowing that to go on for so long. 

Is this going to cause resentment in her someday?  Probably not.  I actually don't even think she remembers it. 


And then there are the blatant lies I have told her to make her do what I want.

“You have to eat carrots or you will go blind. True story.”

"If you don't go to sleep then morning won't come."

“I called the doctor about that tiny scrape (link) you’ve been crying about for 2 hours. She says that if it hurts that bad, we can go in and she can take the leg off.”

"Mommy has a headache so you need to be quiet."

Let’s be honest. Our parents all lied to us too! And for the most part, I can confidently say that the fact that they lied about who left me Christmas presents or where babies came from did not cause me to need intensive psychological help. The fact that they were completely fucking crazy did. And I suspect THAT will be why my kid seeks therapy someday too.

13 comments:

  1. The problem, I've found, is that my mother never told me she lied about some of the dumb shit she told me. I was pretty embarrassed when, at 22, I warned a friend not to write on her hand because she would get blood poisoning and she asked me if I was fucking retarded.

    Right now, Caitlyn simply contradicts everything I want or ask by saying no to every single question. I don't know why I bother to ask her questions anymore.

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    1. LOL. Yup. I was convinced about blood poisoning and also that if you licked a pencil you would get lead poisoning. And I still won't swallow watermelon seeds or gum for fear of it causing serious complications on my insides.

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  2. Yep. I totally do this. I don't know any parent that doesn't. Why argue with 4yo logic? Not worth my brain power or the stress.
    BTW-totally have my daughter convinced she has to buy me a house before she can buy one for herself. All my friends are in on it. She's 10 and still think this. It's kinda awesome to tease her about it.

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  3. My mom bitched about everything I did with my daughter. Fact is...I was determined that my daughter not turn out like my mom!! Sad thing is, my daughter now sees her grandma for what she is.

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  4. If it were up to the "experts" of today our kids would live in little happy bubbles where everybody's a winner, nobody shows anger or sadness and they all talk about their feelings.. Yeah.. I see a bubble full of kids beating the shit out of each other with the "expert's" opinions..

    The fact is, until any of our kids end up in a clock tower with an AK47 we're never gonna' know and in the meantime all we can do is the best we can do and as Maya says, "when we know better, we do better."

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  5. Hilarious. Who hasn't had those same conversations with their own 4 year olds? Nobody, that's who! Too funny.

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  6. At our house we had the "foovie fairy". The foovie fairy came in one night and took all of Julia's foovies (her word for pacefier)and left her some amazing gift in return. I forget what it was, probably a McDonald's toy. So yeah, lying to your kids is A-OK in my book. When else are they going to fall for your bullshit? If it doesn't give them some incurable disease and it makes your life easier? Go for it.

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  7. That, my dear narrator, is quite possibly the funniest thing I have read in a very VERY long time. Especially since I mostly read items such as Goodnight Moon, and it's cousin, Goodnight Goon....oh how I hate children's books..after the 130th time I have read them that week...the joy of a new book is obliterated, lit on fire, resurrected, and destroyed again. When that special book "disappears" I don't consider it a lie..I consider it an act of good grace, because it was either my child..or the book.....just saying...

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  8. I agree 100%. The biggest lie I have going right now with my kids is that you have to go to College/University after high school. I have them all believing that there are NO jobs out there unless you're in school or have finished your college degree and yes, some of my kids are teens...

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  9. "This brings me to something I saw recently on the Today Show about how often parents lie to their children and how it can apparently completely ruin their lives and give them a lifetime of trust issues. Of course, the media ran with this as a theme and took every opportunity to have “experts” come on and tell parents that if you lie to your kids, you may even turn them into crack addicted schizophrenic sociopaths (my summary, not an actual statement)."

    And so goes the American way of life- Whatever is wrong with me has got to be someone's else's fault. It cannot possibly be MY fault!!!! I love how we have a plethora of "experts" to excuse our every action and consequences as the fault of others. It means that sooner or later, I can blame my scars from running into a tree to catch a football on my friend who threw the pass. My lack of financial success is because my sister married up and took my slot on that ladder! Man I love the excuses at my disposal these days!

    "the fact that they lied about who left me Christmas presents or where babies came from did not cause me to need intensive psychological help."

    It was the fact of me walking in on them once... I haven't been right since!

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  10. Thanks for posting this, really if a adult is going to spend time arguing with a 4yr old because they want to be right then the adult has the mentality of a 4yr old.
    But don't you just love the things a kid that age comes up with, honestly letting a kid express themselves is ok, and yes can be used later in life as entertaining stories at family events.

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  11. I happen to think the ba-ba fairy is a brilliant idea and plan on using it to conquer what i'm sure will be a pacifier battle. I also know moms who've had great success with halloween candy fairies to convince your kids to trade in some of their obscenely large candy haul for a small toy. Way to be creative!

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