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, but here’s my twelve pence worth.
When I was a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad) during summer, well 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.