Lie to Me: Five Lies I’m Proud of Telling My Kids

Parents lie to their children. That’s a fact of life. Some do it better than others, but we all do it. Could you imagine a world where parents were honest with their kids?

“Actually, Timmy, there’s a really, really good chance that you won’t be an astronaut. Considering your complete inability to understand long division, you’re probably going to sell cars when you grow up. Now let’s talk about Santa Claus.”

So we lie. Mostly about the little things. My parents were great at it. The most famous lie my parents ever told their kids happened during a move from Georgia to Texas. My parents told their kids that it was against the law to transport a dog across state lines.

Brilliant. The dog was a pain in the ass, they didn’t want to take him along. I understand this now, and it serves as inspiration for my own suite of lies that I rely on to get through the day.

The key to a good lie, is to lay the blame on a third party. For instance, let’s say you want your kid to wear a jacket. Tell him it’s an order from his pediatrician. “Dr. Love (our pediatrician) says you have to wear a jacket when it’s below 50 degrees. I’m sorry, son, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

We lay a lot of shit on Dr. Love. “Dr. Love says I’m not allowed to carry you on walks anymore. You have to walk on your own. I know, I think it sucks too. We should talk to Dr. Love about it the next time we see him.”

“Dr. Love says you’re big enough now to open the fridge and get daddy a beer…”

You see where I’m going with this. So, here are five lies I’m okay with telling my children.

1. Elmo is sad because you didn’t take a nap. (Simple, effective…no kid wants to disappoint Elmo. You can use that love to your advantage.)

2. Princesses always pick up their toys after they’re done playing. (I’ve never met a princess, but something tells me they don’t spend a lot of time cleaning up after themselves.)

3. Every time you flick the lights on and off, a fairy dies. (Harsh? Sure. But do my kids constantly flick the lights on and off, anymore? No.)

4. We have to leave this park right now, because there are killer bees. (This one works, but it comes with consequences. My kids are really scared of bees now.)

5. Mommy and daddy have a work meeting, that’s why we have to get a babysitter. (There is no work meeting. Mommy and daddy just need three hours of peace and quiet and a meal that doesn’t include french fries. Okay, even that was a lie. We’re totally ordering the french fries.)

So, parents, what are the best lies you tell your children? Or, what lies did your parents tell you as a kid?


Sesame Street Raised My Children

My better half, also heavily influenced by Elmo

I like to think I’m having some sort of positive impact on my kids. There has to be some advantage to having your dad hang out with you every day as opposed to your mom, perhaps a medical benefit to having a bit more testosterone around the house. Right?

We may not bake a lot of cookies, and my daughter may always look like a drunk homeless person because I have no idea how to braid her hair, but there are some advantages, right? Like, they’ll learn how to play poker at a shockingly young age. And they already have a rich knowledge of the Beastie Boys.

Even though I don’t know what I’m doing, I daydream about their inaugural address 40 years down the road (yes, the first twins ever to be elected President) where they thank their dad for teaching them how to tie their shoes and treat others with kindness (at least to their face).

But the older my kids get, the more I realize I’m not really doing much more than keeping the razor blades and liquor out of reach. And sometimes, I fail at that. Every now and then I’ll stand in awe of a new skill that my kids display and wonder, “where did they learn that?”

More often than not, the answer is Sesame Street. Seriously. Counting to 10, their colors, empathy…they picked all this up from The Street.

I taught them to jump over the couch cushions while yelling, “parkour!” but Elmo taught them that brushing their teeth is healthy. I showed them how to take tiny nibbles out of their cookie until it looks like a sail boat, but Abby taught them the importance of saying “please” and “thank you.”

So I guess it’s my turn. Thank you Elmo, Abby, the Grouch, Cookie Monster et al. Thank you for picking up my slack.

And people say TV is bad for you!