How did people parent without the Internet? I'm serious. About half of what I've learned as a mother came from Google searches for parenting hacks. Storage hacks for toys. Hacks for working moms. New parent unable to shower? There's a hack for that. But before the days when you could really quickly look up "is green baby poop normal" or "sleep training techniques for toddlers," there was a parenting hack that could be applied to pretty much any situation. A hack that continues to be used by parents everywhere.
To this day, lying proves again and again to be among the most effective parenting hacks out there. Best part? It's pretty intuitive. No one has to teach a parent how to lie; the lies flow over their tongues like honey, sweet and viscous.
"Well, I believe in being honest with my children," you retort. "I would never lie to them." I half agree with you, reader I just made up but whom I have no doubt exists. I think being honest with your kids is crucial. Be honest about death. Be honest about sex. Be honest about how awesome Harry Potter is. But if the 1997 Jim Carey classic Liar Liar taught us one thing it's that, sometimes, lying is pretty necessary.
Perfect truth is not only inconvenient, it's exhausting and impractical. So I'm not saying parents lie to their children as an act of maliciousness. When it comes to anyone, but most of all children, lying is goddamn necessary to not going absolutely insane in the 18+ years it will take to raise your kids.
Here are some of the most common, crucial lies that it is absolutely OK to tell your kids.
"We Are All Out Of Cookies"
Because the minute your kid knows there is junk food in the house, chances are, they're going to want to eat all of it. Not only is this not ideal for their little growing bodies or teeth, but it's also annoying when you want a cookie and then there are none left because your covetous Cookie Monsters nommed them all. Yes, you could be honest and say, "You cannot have a cookie," but sometimes it just saves time and a tantrum to lie about it.
"Just One More Episode"
If you're anything like me, you let your kid watch TV to buy yourself some time. To do chores, to finish up some work, to take 30 goddamn minutes for yourself. So you'll tell your kid "one more episode" and then it feels like you blink and it's over and whatever you had planned to accomplish in those 30 minutes absolutely did not get done. Then it's like, "OK, one more..." Repeat as necessary.
What Your Vibrator Is
So this one is entirely up to you guys. I'm a big advocate for sex positivity and I think it's also totally fine for kids to know that sex is primarily a source of pleasure (and not, as every sex ed class in the history of ever would indicate, making babies). So if you want to be upfront about your buzzing buddy, you go ahead and feel free. But if you'd like to keep what you do with your nethers personal, it's totally cool to just tell your kid it's a massager or whatever.
"You Have Two Minutes"
Almost certainly a lie. Look, kids can get real weird about transitions, so I do recognize the importance of giving this countdowns/warnings. Like, "We're going to leave in X minutes," or, "You have X minutes left to play and then we have to move on to the next activity." Now, generally when I give a five-minute warning, it's a true five minutes (or close enough). But if I whip out the two-minute warning, that's basically saying, "I don't want to spring this on you out of the blue, but I want to stop whatever it is we're doing ASAP." "Two minutes" is usually about 45 seconds. Fortunately, my kids can't tell time.
Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny
Some parents are very anti-mythical figures intruding upon their kids' lives, and I can see their argument. Yeah, it's lying to kids, and yeah, it does create some potential awkwardness when they have friends who don't partake of the same cultural touchstone. But ultimately I see it as a fun dash of whimsy to brighten holidays and milestones. I mean, my kid thinks his Darth Vader doll comes to life when he's not looking, so I really don't think telling him Santa brings him a toy at Christmas is warping his sense of reality all that much. He has no sense of reality.
"This Is Just For Mommies. You Wouldn't Like It."
False. This is chocolate almond milk and you would love it, but I bought it for me and I don't want to share.
"That's The Music Truck"
Ice cream trucks are great, but as a parent on a budget, I'd rather buy my kid a box of the exact same ice cream bars at the store for $4 than buy a single serving for $3. I mean, that's just common sense. But you cannot explain that to a child who hears the siren song of a cool car that plays tinkling music and is full of ice cream: Those are three of a child's favorite things. To avoid all this, I just tell them, "That's the music truck! It drives around neighborhood to neighborhood playing music to make people happy." Then they just sit back and enjoy the music truck! They can't ask for ice cream if they don't know there is ice cream!
I question how much time I have left on this lie before they figure it out...
"Look! That Bird Just Said Hi To You!"
Obviously the bird didn't say hi to you. The bird probably didn't even notice you, and if it did it's scared of you because it sees you as a giant, loud predator. But, again, I don't think there's anything wrong with infusing a little bit of magic into childhood. So sure, the bird said hi to you and that ant wants to be your friend and this tree's name is "Woodford Brimley" because it has several notches that look like a face with an enormous mustache.
I mean, truthfully, it probably wasn't. Kids are pretty uncoordinated and have you seen how they draw? That picture looks nothing like me, and I'm insulted you would think it does. But bless their hearts they're trying, so, yay, sweetie! You're right, you came really close to doing a double back flip just now...
"The Park Is Closed"
It's 3 p.m. The park is not closed. I just don't want to go.
"It's Time For Mommy To Go To Bed, Too"
Tee hee! Child, please. After you go to bed, I watch R-rated movies and work on my night cheese and drink wine. But kids suffer FOMO more than pretty much any other demographic, and the idea that you're up and about when they have to be in bed is downright insulting to them. So lying is necessary, just to keep their anxiety about missing out in check.