Little White Lies


I was inspired to write this post by a tweet from @Chaoscate last week which went like this:

“Just told my first parenting lie: no, you cannot watch Postman Pat because he is asleep . #whitelies #badmama”

I liked this as it was someone admitting to something that I think all parents have all done. Tell a little lie to your children for the sake of a slightly more peaceful hour. We’ve all done it and I’m sure lots have blogged about it too, heck, there’s even a book about the subject,Β  but here’s my twelve pence worth.

When I was a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad) during summer, wellΒ  from about March through to October actually, the local ice cream van would do it’s rounds. It drove past my old house THREE TIMES A SODDING DAY, at lunchtime, around 4pm and also around 6pm. And parked at the end of the close by the playground. I thought this was as wise as parking a massive booze lorry outside an AA meeting but I guess the guy has to make a living somehow.

My 2 year old son was learning quick and he’d say “Ice-cream van!” How do they know these things? It’s like it’s one of the first words they say, one of the first concepts they understand! When they hear a plinkity plonkity version of ‘Popeye The Sailor Man’ then the ice cream section of their brain is stimulated and out it comes! “Daddy, I want an ice cream!”

Now, in my defence your honour I only actually ever said this to him three times, but it stuck easily. “When the ice cream van plays it’s little tune it’s because the van has RUN OUT of ice cream.”

And so, for the remainder of the year T would say, whenever he heard the van go past the house “Awww. Ice cream van. Broken.”

My ex-wife and I had friends round for a play date. At lunchtime the van drove past. T said “Awww. Ice cream van. Broken” and one of her friends gave us a look as if both of us had tried to stick a pineapple up her boomhole.

“You haven’t told him that have you? Poor little boy!”

I can think of worse things that would warrant that sort of reaction. He’ll learn soon enough that, actually, mummy and daddy were wrong, and not actually lying through their teeth. But in order to limit the amount of times a day T would ask for an ice cream treat we told him that one.

Another one, while I’m in the confessional. My ex-wife was also not a fan of CBeebies. I’ve explained that she’s not the target audience but she’d really rather it wasn’t on. So we’d have it on for a wee while during the week while she was at work, but when she was home at the weekend she’d tell the children “I’m sorry. But CBeebies is not on at the weekend.”

Little white lies like this serve a purpose. In my opinion it’s better than saying “No”. All the time. “No you can’t touch that”, “no you can’t put your sister in the bin”, “no don’t put that in your mouth”, “no you can’t have a bath with all your clothes on”, “no you cannot ride on the cat”. No, you can’t do that. No, 462 times a day can be exhausting.

But. The little white lie is still a lie isn’t it? An untruth, and all untruths are wrong.

When I was little I was told by my mum when I once put a pair of shoes on the coffee table “putting shoes on the table means there’ll be a death in the house.” I remember this very clearly as I did this and later that week my grandfather, who I loved dearly but was also very sick in hospital, died. The night I was told of his death I didn’t sleep, and cried all night because I’d done that. I caused that. It was my fault. I’d put my shoes on the table.

But of course it wasn’t my fault. And of course this didn’t happen because I put my shoes on the table. It’s just a saying and a way of stopping people from putting their shoes on the table, albeit a pretty dark one. Just as saying “if you pull faces and the wind changes you’ll stay that way’ serves a purpose from stopping children pulling odd faces in public and “you’ll go blind if you keep doing that” stops you from doing that.

So, friends, readers, fellow parents. Which little white lies have you told or been told? I’m donning my robes and will sit in my confessional comments box waiting to absolve you of all your sins. Also, if you have blogged about the subject whack the link in your comment so others can take a gander.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing some absolute belters.

38 responses to “Little White Lies

  1. When my brother and I were little I remember asking my mum repeatedly whhhhhhyyyyyy the credits at the end of American TV shows went up so quickly. She told me that children in American schools were taught to a special method of reading very quickly. As an avid little reader I couldn’t understand why I could not be let into this amazing secret method and CRIED. I also believed her statement to be fact until I was about flipping FIFTEEN. She denies all knowledge of ever doing this now, but my brother remembers it too. Why would she lie?! Whhhhyyyyyyy?!?!?!

    • Blimey! That’s a complex one. It’s not true though. As we all know, it’s because TV producers don’t seem to give a shit about the people who make the programmes. Now they’re relegated to a tiny patch of the screen while the announcer tells you what else to watch.
      Thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

  2. We all do it. Anyone who says they don’t is, well…lying. What about Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy? Two whoppers we (pretty much) all collaborate in.
    On a day to day basis little white lies make life with small children bearable.
    When my youngest was getting on for two I wanted him to give up his dummy. We sent it to the Dummy Fairy (a close relative of the tooth fairy, obvs) who gave all the dummies to new babies who really needed them and he got a β€˜Big Boy’ present to replace it.
    I’ve never heard the ice cream one before, we didn’t have an ice cream van when they were small so I guess I never needed that!

    • I’ve been thinking of this one a bit. Not sure I can go with the Father Christmas one. Dunno. Need to talk to my ex about that. If she is then we’ll need to be consistent but, really, I’d rather not.
      I’m sure this makes me a killjoy but we’ll see what happens.
      Thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

  3. When my son was 2 he wanted to taste my chocolate mousse. I took a mouthful, pulled a face as if I was drinking worm blood, then offered him some.
    Needless to say he turned it down. Not quite lying but deceitful nonetheless. Forgiveable?…
    And the usual answer when caught eating biscuits… “Mummy. What are you eating”? “Broccoli” Forgiveable?…

  4. Oh we often say “Peppa Pig has gone bye-byes now” to prevent little ‘uns eyes going square and stop the murderous thoughts before they take too firm a hold (wonder why I’ve taken a sadistic pleasure in bashing belly pork lately – it definitely ain’t all about ‘tenderising’).

    I need a new line on why eating chocolate and crisps all day every day is bad and why vegetables are a must. Haven’t found anything that works yet – teeth falling out? Great, tooth fair will bring money – just like in that episode of Peppa Pig *screaaaaam*

    Any thoughts, I’ll be glad to hear ’em.

  5. My daughter wouldn’t eat baked beans but loved mashed potato so my neice told her (in collusion with us) that only big girls knew baked beans were actually filled with mashed potato. She ate them for years before cottoning on to it…

  6. My mother in law told my husband/sis in law the best one ever. I wont be stealing many parenting ideas from her but this one I will.
    When preparing your mince pie and choice of drink for Father Christmas, Rudolf really likes peeled and chopped carrots.
    And sometimes he’s really hungry and also wants prepared sprouts, parsnips and potatoes too.
    And he certainly doesn’t leave them all for us to eat in our Christmas dinner the next day….

  7. I’m always lying to my kids and also to my much younger brother before they came along. It’s annoying now that my older 2 are teens and not so easily fooled but looking forward to spinning tales to my toddler! I used the ‘ice-cream tune means they’ve run out’ but they got wise to that when they saw other people buying them so i once said that that particular ice-cream man had dirty fingernails so we didn’t want to buy from him. It worked a treat and everytime they heard the tune they would ask if was the ‘dirty fingernails man’? Of course it always would be!

    Incidentally, I’d get them to clean their nails by telling them potatoes would grow under their nails in the night if they were dirty.

    I once told my brother to sit on the step and watch the world go by. He literally thought a great planet was going to pass by in the sky and I encouraged this belief for weeks to get rid of him from hanging around me.

    Also hate having helium balloons round the house so when the kids used to bring them back from parties etc I used to tell them to let them go outside so the angels could play with them.

  8. Z is too young for white lies yet but I do pull shocked faces and say “oh Daddy gone work!” like I can’t quite believe it either. It helps him tantrum a bit less to see i’m not pleased either. I have made a mental note of the ice cream van one for the future πŸ™‚

  9. That the house alarm sensors that are in most rooms are Father christmas’s cameras, so he can check you are being good.

  10. Ha ha! We’ve used the ice cream van one too! Apparently my hubby was told it as a kid.

    Our two year old lad also has a habit of wanting to steal everyone’s drinks so on last week’s holiday we learned to pull faces and call it a “yucky grown ups drink” if we had anything alcoholic!!

    Oh and Mummy and Daddy go to bed when he does, of course πŸ˜‰

  11. “If you scratch your head, you’ll get splinters” – my mum, 1970s vintage.
    I’m sure she thought she was hilariously witty, but I believed her completely.
    Even now, aged 40, I still catch myself checking my fingernails for splinters after I’ve scratched my head…

  12. I once had a splinter in my finger & I wouldn’t let my dad look at it and he told me that if I didn’t let him get it out, my finger would drop off. I believed him till I was in my 20s and a carpenter friend of mine told me that your body pushes splinters out. My dad just wanted to inflict pain on me I’m sure!

    • I was told one grim one once where the splinter, if you didn’t get it out, would be sucked in and would work it’s way to your heart and your heart would explode and you’d die.
      I’m beginning to think my mum did nothing BUT lie to me.
      Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading.

    • I think I got the same from my mum when I was growing up. Although I was a good child. She’d never let me see her tongue though so perhaps this was a lie she was told and actually believed.
      Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  13. Perfect timing. Yesterday I started a post called ‘lies I have told today’. I am in the middle of a complex web of lies about the Bottle Fairy in preparation for Bibsey giving up her baby’s bottle at naptime and bedtime.

    My friends tells her son that things (like outgrown shoes and annoying toys) have gone Pop and Bang… and they are never seen again. Quite sinister?

  14. All genius ideas – the Father Christmas cameras particularly outstanding! My son is nearly 11 months but I’m trying to collect as many of these as I can. One of our neighbours works for the police armed response, and we were wondering if threatening to get “the policeman, WITH THE GUN” is perhaps a little harsh?!

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