by TAMSIN MARSHALL
Since having my daughter I have become something I never thought I would, something that I have always proudly protested against – a proficient liar. So easily do these little white lies slip off my tongue that I’m almost afraid that I’m not going to know when to stop. But clearly that day will come. That day when my daughter no longer takes what I say verbatim and questions everything. And yes, I’m sure, that day will come much faster than I’d like.
Now, I wouldn’t normally admit to this but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one. Lying as a mother is a necessary evil. Sometimes, I like to think of it as ‘the creative truth’. I’m sure I’m going to get a barrage of negative feedback but first hear me out. Because what I end up lying about, is pretty silly really. But to a 2-nearly-3-year-old, it’s the damn truth.
Like the time I told my daughter that all the sweets, chocolates and lollies in the bright, sparkly wrapping paper lining the checkout aisle was “yucky and makes our tummy hurt”. How I smiled smugly the next time we were at the supermarket and she pointed at them and said, “yucky”. Don’t get me wrong – she knows what chocolates are, she loves chocolate and sweets, but she doesn’t recognise the packets, and that my friends is the greatest secret.
Or when I’m trying to get her to sit further away from the giant TV screen that dominates our lounge, “your eyes will go square”, I tell her ominously and she shuffles her bum back. She hasn’t yet thought to question the reality of this.
I tell her that blueberries, strawberries and any other fruit we have in the house are “nature’s lollies and a treat”, she loves nothing more than to be served up a delicious fruit platter. I’ve discovered that it’s not what’s on the plate but how I describe it that gets her wanting it. Yes, she’s still young enough to fall for this (although this really is coming to an end as tonight she wanted “a treat, not dinner”), but yes she also genuinely loves fruit. She also loves olives and cheese platters, but that might be more about being ‘with the girlfriends’.
Of course the biggest, most continual fib running in our house at present is the threat of Santa hearing if she’s naughty – if she’s misbehaving I merely have to say, “Santa” with my head tilted towards the window and she stops fast in her tracks. She’s a good kid at heart and doesn’t like to be naughty and she certainly doesn’t want to miss out on her presents. A good friend of mine told her kids that Blackbirds were Santa’s spies and told Santa if little children were being good or bad. She fortunately had a couple of Blackbirds in her garden.
There have also been a couple of times when these little white lies have completely backfired. Like the frustrating time when Coco wouldn’t get out of the bath, she’d just splash and kick and play so I’d walk out and then she’d call me back in saying she wanted to get out, only to splash and play some more. After a few times of this, I pulled the plug and said, “don’t go down the drain!” in a joking manner, to which she SCREAMED and leapt out.
After that she refused to get into the bath for days, like actually nearly two weeks. It was that bad. I was wracked with guilt. I had to get in the bath with her and demonstrate that it was safe. We LIED and told her we had got rid of the drain… no more drains we told her, while dangling her kicking and screaming over the water. I took it slowly and calmly. I told her I understood why she was scared, I told her that Mummy was being silly, that she can’t go down the drain. I had to say this many times over. I told her it was covered up and she was too big. She stood with her little eyes wide and I held onto her while she gently eased her bum down. It helped that there was nearly a bottle of bubble bath concealing most parts of the bath and all parts of the drain. Thank god, she’s no longer scared of drains. And now of course she loves her bath just as much as ever.
I tell her I don’t have any money on me (even if I do) when she insists on yet another ride in another freakin car in the mall. I’ve told her that the ice cream shop has run out and we’ll have to back another day, I might say things are broken or closed if I’m trying to avoid doing something that she is stubbornly insisting on.
I guess I mostly lie when it comes to the daily battles with routine and/or food. Tonight was a great example and I don’t know where I pulled it from. She adores my friend Sarah and her girls, loves them, looks up to them. When she refused to have dinner, shaking her cute little pig tails and running away from me, I told her that Sarah had made exactly the same dinner for her friends Mia and Taylor at their house and they were eating it all up. She sat down and started to eat. It made me think about all the lies I find myself saying to help me get through the day. It’s exhausting.
Of course what I don’t lie to her about is how much I love her, how clever she is, how smart, how cute, how funny. I encourage her to try new things, dance, paint, sing to me, count with me, spell her name (which she can do) and all these funny tricks. She’s so freaking clever this kid that one day she is going to see right through my little white lies and I’m going to be completely and utterly screwed.
What little secret lies do you tell your kids? What lies did your parents tell you?