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25. Still on the subject of lying…

December 18, 2011

cookie cookie cookie christmas christmas christmas santa santa santa santa

Continued from 24. and and 19.

Before I became a mom, I used to befriend kids by telling them “jokes” like: “I had dinner with Luke Skywalker just last night. Really. You don’t believe me?” This kind of joking can be fine for the hipster 20-year-old cousin (though personally, I was never a hipster). For me as a mom, they are impossible. Because for kids, the world is already completely unknowable, completely unpredictable, completely and potentially anything. What’s really the difference between dinner with Luke Skywalker and your dad’s old friend who has just returned from living in Indonesia? What’s the difference between a dragon and a German Shepherd? The delineation between the real and the fantastic is extremely fluid—and remember for a minute, just how scary that is.

So, yes, I do lie to my kids. I don’t tell them stories of my wayward youth; I hide the occasional cigarette I smoke; occasionally, I eat a whole bunch of cookies after they have gone to bed; frequently, I eat a whole bunch of cookies after they have gone to bed. It’s not that I need my kids to think I’m perfect. Which is good because…uh…. they are pretty clear that actually, I am the worst mom in the whole world.  Instead, I tell these lies because they are kids and don’t have the tools yet to navigate the complexity of the grown-up world.

Still, I want to be as honest with them as possible. I want to be the someone they can depend on at the core of their being. That’s why Santa still troubles me some. Ok. I know, it’s not possible for me to be perfect. I can’t always protect them from the vagaries of magic and myth and broken promises. What I can try to be is knowable, predictable and kind of boring—the stable figure whose very presence is what allows them to imagine, explore, risk.

To be continued, again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 19, 2011 1:46 am

    And then again…isn’t much of navigating through life a matter of finding that careful balance between telling the honest truth and knowing when to tell an honest lie?

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