Kids lie. No matter how hard you stress the importance of honesty, they will still lie. It’s human nature.
My kid isn’t even three years old and I’ve already seen inklings. I’m not always sure that’s he truly lying about not having pooped or if he’s just so used to having poop in his pants that he can’t tell the difference, but sometimes he’s lying about it. Because he doesn’t want his diaper changed. Because he’s gross. But I digress.
Dealing with lying children is a natural part of being a parent. I knew that going in, and I’m ready for it.
But I didn’t know how much lying I’d be doing.
Pro Tip: Kids will believe anything.
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Lennay Kekua, Jesus, democracy. They’ll buy it all, especially if a parent is selling it. And now that I’m dealing with an increasingly curious and willful toddler, my house is like eBay. I’m selling more BS than Joe Isuzu.
Let’s be clear. I am not lying to my kid about anything significant or in an attempt to pervert his worldview or for any sinister reasons like that. I’m lying to my son purely as a matter of convenience, also known as: the reason for 90% of all parenting decisions. Kids are such a pain so much of the time that when you have an opportunity to make things even a little bit easier for yourself, you’ve got to take it. Sure, maybe lying to my son all the time will backfire and result in a dishonest person who eventually becomes President and rules the world, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
So yeah, I lie to my son, and I’ll keep lying. Especially when he asks me why I drink so much, because screaming “YOU!” in his face isn’t appropriate.
Once my kid started talking, he hasn’t stopped asking questions. There is just nothing easy about satisfying a toddler’s curiosity, both because they often can’t understand factual explanations and because they just enjoy being annoying and asking annoying questions and annoyingly annoying you in the most annoying way possible. So lying becomes a necessity for parents, both because you don’t always know the factual explanations and because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP.
For example: if we’re trying to get the kid to nap or go to sleep, we’ll tell him we’re going to bed too! Even if it’s barely 8pm and by “going to bed” we mean “having three martinis and passing out when Jon Stewart gets to the interview.” But he doesn’t need to know that because he needs to go to sleep. BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.
For example: if we’re trying to get out of the house and he refuses to leave because he can’t find his little stuffed dog, we’ll tell him the dog went out for a walk and would be home when he got back because the little moron doesn’t understand that stuffed animals are inanimate objects and get your fucking shoes on goddammit we’re going to be late!
For example: if he’s acting like a prick and it’s at least relatively close to Christmas, we’ll tell him Santa is going to drop a grenade down the chimney instead of any presents so GET DOWN OFF THE FURNITURE AND EAT YOUR DINNER.
Obviously, none of those things are true. I’m not even sure we have a martini shaker (of course we do; have you met my wife?). But those lies, or things like them, can be effective. There’s an entire industry built around lying during the Christmas season, with Santa’s list and “Elf on the Shelf” and virgin births and all that. Because when it comes to manipulating children, lying is effective, at least in the short term. Which is usually all you need.
The trouble comes later, when the kid somehow remembers one of those lies, and you’re stuck having to explain that you and Mommy aren’t actually professional wrestlers like those guys on TV, no, you were just wrestling that one morning and hey look over there, your stuffed dog came back!