Lies we tell our children

My 6 year old is scared of sleeping alone. We’ve tried everything – 3 night lights, warm baths at bed time, going to bed early, going to bed late, bribes, threats – to no avail. He’s convinced there are monsters in the house. I’ve even appealed to his sense of logic:

Me: Honey, why would mommy and daddy spend so much money on a house that comes with monsters?

Adam: They come in when we go out and hide in the closets and under the beds.

Those f*$#ed up sneaky little sons of bitches! I added the last part, my 6 year old cant swear quite as eloquently yet. And I added the self-censoring because my dad has requested that I don’t swear on this blog and besides asking me to cut my hair and be happy, that man has not asked me to do anything so I will graciously acquiesce on the swearing thing – a little!

But then it got me thinking – when Adam lost his first tooth he put it under his pillow from where – in the middle of night while he slept soundly – a small creature with wings stole his tooth and left some money. And that has happened 9 times, the amount varying from location to location. Teeth lost at Grandma’s – where teeth are in short supply – command a $5 price tag, while at home the rate is more like $1 per tooth.  Except for that one time that Hurricane Sandy grounded all the tooth fairies which is why the money showed up the next day – oops! Then, around April a large bunny has come into his room – in the middle of the night while he slept soundly – and left presents and treats for him. And then, every year a large, loud man in a red suit, with a humungous sled pulled by 8 gigantic reindeer (one with a monster glow nose) has landed on our roof, clambered down our chimney, eaten the cookies we leave out, and left gifts in his stocking and under the tree. And all the while his parents have slept, blissfully unaware of these felonious break-ins by sundry entities. NO WONDER HE’S FREAKING OUT!!

Why do we tell our children these lies? I’ve drawn the line at the Elf on the Shelf, the Halloween Boo ghost, and the Valentines day Cupid [seriously, a naked baby that goes around shooting people with arrows gives ME nightmares] – they are going to be in so much therapy when they grow up just from the current lies anyway! When my 9 year old found out about Santa it was such a relief because we didn’t have to do the whole song and dance routine – “maybe you can write a letter to Santa and see if he’ll get you a dog”. Of course she didn’t get the dog – but at that time Santa was the douche bag who let her down. This year, her parents were the cheapskates who didn’t buy her a pony.

A lot of lies revolve around food – getting them to eat healthy and reminding them that candy, soda, chocolate, and suckers don’t make a balanced meal. I remember my dad telling me when I was 6 that if I drank tea, my ears would become black – what??!! I lived in mild trepidation of having incongruously dark ears compared to the rest of my face. We told our kids that if they didn’t eat their vegetables, hungry children in Africa weep and the terrorists win – they suggested shipping the vegetables to Africa – gotta like the altruistic spirit. In an effort to get my son to just try Indian food I told him that he is half American and half Indian – so from his head to his stomach is Indian and stomach down is American. He hasn’t bought this nuanced explanation of how genetics works. One day he ran into the house saying – “Quick dad, cook something before mom does”!

But I think the biggest lie we tell them is “you can be anything you want when you grow up honey” – that’s patently false! If my daughter could be anything she wants to be – she’d be a hair stylist vet for guinea pigs – pretty specific don’t you think! Not hamsters, not puppies or kittens or other rodents – just guinea pigs! Also, I’ve never heard of a hair stylist vet – what kind of training do you need? Can you acquire the training simultaneously or do you need to do this in serial fashion – first vet school and then beauty school? Is there some kind of accreditation and licensing agency that ensures quality of service? I blame you Littlest Pet Shop and you My Little Pony!

And my son has informed me that when he grows up he doesn’t want to “think or work hard” – fanf***ingtastic! That opens up a host of employment opportunities – reality TV “star”, game show host, political pundit of 24 hour cable news shows!

So from now on I’m telling my kids that they can be anything they want when they grow up – with the following caveats:

– it needs to be a real job and they should be able to point to at least three REAL people who are doing it – not people on TV (fricking psychic mediums and ghost hunters) and not talking cartoon characters – REAL people

– it needs to provide them with an income that will allow them to one day move out of my house

– it needs to be something I can brag about to the Dalai Lama or the Pope and be able to look them in the eye – I am NOT going to introduce either of Their Holinesses-es to “my daughter the curator of the Young Earth Creation Museum”, or “my son the serial arsonist”.

– it needs to NOT, and this is important, NOT in ANY way, shape, or form, NOT add to world suck – so please don’t be a paparazzo, or work at Exxon, or be a politician!

That hair stylist vet thing is looking way more attractive right now isn’t it!

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