All parents lie. My parents, your parents, your grandparents, me, and, if you're a parent, you. This is not, as our teenage selves suspect, due to any malicious desire to manipulate and deceive. Lying to our children is a goodamn necessity to make every day existence not only a harmonious as possible, but bearable. To wit, please find lies I regularly tell my child.
"We're all out of [desired item]."
If it were up to my child, he would exist solely on berries, graham crackers, scrambled eggs with spinach, and pasta e fagioli. I try to be honest, I do. Most of them time, when he asks for one of these items for the third meal that day, I calmly inform him "No, my dearest darling. For you see, you have already consumed that item, and now it is time for you to partake of another nutritious food so that you have the necessary vitamins and minerals you need to grow and be strong and not get scurvy." Because, you know, it's important to demonstrate that your child won't always get what he wants. It's also important to instill healthy eating habits and a basic knowledge of nutrition early on. But sometimes, your child whines that he waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaants iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit, and holy shit that whine is really annoying today. Maybe it's more annoying because you are standing there in your bra and underwear, because his infant sister shit all over you and you haven't had two minutes to put on another outfit yet, and the floor is covered in the crumbs of the last several nights' dinners because you haven't had a chance to sweep, and the cat is still mad at you for taking it to the vet and you swear to god he is shedding more in retaliation, which is just more shit to sweep up. In those moments, it's really just so much easier to say "Sorry buddy. We don't have strawberries. Here's some yogurt. I'll let you put jelly in it."
"One more episode of Curious George."
Like any other smug hippie trying to do the best for her children, I do make an effort to limit my kid's TV time. I'm not draconian about it, but the boy is not allowed to sit in front of the television for hours. But let me tell you, aside from getting a babysitter, nothing buys a parent "me time" quite like a child's favorite TV show (in the case of my kid Curious George, which is surprisingly tolerable). Luckily for me, George is available on Netflix. So when I need a little while to kick back, we hunker down on the couch, the little man becomes engrossed in the misadventures of the hyperintelligent monkey, and I in my book or the wonders of internet cat videos. Before I know it, I'll hear my son say "I watch one more episode. Okay?" I look up only to see the credits rolling and think "Well shit: that wasn't very long at all. I'm only halfway through this video of a kitten riding on a tortoise." "Okay buddy," I'll reply. "One more episode." Dudes: it's never "one more." Ever. And that is on me. (Sidebar, George's abilities are grossly overestimated by everyone in his world. Why did Professor Wiseman trust George to go into space on an important mission? Why did that chick behind the candy counter trust him to mind the store for the afternoon? He's a MONKEY! He's a monkey and they're all idiots.)
"It's time for mommy and daddy to go to bed, too..."
Ha! Are you fucking kidding me? Kid, it's 8:30. Despite what I say, your father and I will not be going to bed for at least another three hours. In that time, we are going to do all kinds of shit that you can't. We're going to watch R rated movies. We might even do the sex. We are going to eat whatever we want. Remember a couple weeks ago when we got a Fudgey the Whale cake for daddy's birthday and you ate a piece? Did you ever wonder what happened to the rest of it? We devoured it over the next several nights while you were sleeping.
"In two minutes, it's time to..."
Most kids have difficulty with transitioning from one activity to another. Many experts recommend giving your kid "warning" before transitioning to get them used to the idea of the next activity. Without these warnings, you often run a higher risk of tantrums. My son's tantrums are something I really, really like to avoid. 90% of the time, the boy is pure sunshine: well-behaved, friendly, sweet, loving. But 10% of then time? Imagine... Gollum fighting Frodo in the fires of Mount Doom for possession of the one ring... now imagine that Gollum had just done a mountain of cocaine and was also a super saiyan. Anyway, I generally take the whole transition thing pretty seriously, because it's a very useful parenting technique. When I say "In five minutes, we are going to..." I almost always mean "In five minutes, we are going to..." But when I start with "In two minutes..." what I mean is "I am super bored with this activity and I want to stop now, but if I cut you off cold turkey it's going to be a fight. I will avoid this by giving you approximately 45 second's warning but say you have two minutes, taking advantage of your inability to tell time."
"Oh look at the [petting zoo goat]/[airplane]/[bird on the lawn]. It's saying hi to you!"
Pfft. Bullshit. Those animals are stupid and don't have a concept of 'hello' and even if that plane were sentient, it would be far to high up to even notice you let alone say hello. The world does not revolve around you, child. Not everyone knows you.
...But isn't it sort of awesome that you are so young and innocent and happy that you believe that to be true?
A lot of people, including yours truly, are annoyed and vocal about entitled children these days. You see them all the time, and if you are a halfway decent human being, you make it a point to do everything in your power so that your kid doesn't become one. I repeat: the world does not revolve around you, child. But every now and then that self-centeredness is really beautiful. Because when your child is the center of the world, everything about the world is as rosy as he imagines it. That goat isn't just saying hi to him. That goat loves everyone! And that goat is loving because your child is loving and he is projecting that into everything in the universe. I'm okay nurturing that just a little bit for just a little while.
So: what convenient, necessary, or beautiful lies do you tell your children?