Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best Mom Tip #164: Lie to your 3-year-old

First of all, let me say hello to Cheryl. What's up, Cheryl? Cheryl is my wonderful friend who calls herself my #1 fan and reads my blog faithfully. Since she works in television I like to pretend that my writings have been "picked up" by the Cartoon Network because, technically, the same computer that rates Robot Chicken also reads this. So anyway, hey Cheryl. I am resuming writing for you. :)

On to the lying to your children part. One time, when my daughter was 3, we went on a walk to the park that is just under a mile from my house. We got about .8 miles from home and she suddenly decided she needed her princess ball cap more than she needed air to breathe. I calmly explained that if we went back home we would no longer have time to play on the playground. She responded with a sound that I associate with the high pitched whine of civilization's destruction when the nuclear bombs hit.  I then, while 6 months pregnant, drag-walked her the .8 miles back home and put her in time out so that I would not kill her.

When I related this story to my mom, she said, "eh, I probably would have said o.k. and then once we got home told her we couldn't go back to the park."  I was shocked.  You mean, LIE?  NOT tell her the consequences of her actions?  What kind of a child will I be raising? How would she manage in life if I do not present her with reality?

Fast forward 3 1/2 years and two more kids.  My now three-year-old son is in the same phase.  The one where, when things don't go the way he had them planned in his head, he collapses into a puddle of despair.  This is alright if we're at home.  It is more difficult to deal with when we are in the grocery store.

Thus, I find myself lying to him a lot.  Sure, Buddy, those underwear are totally on the right way.  Yes, you have done a nice job wiping off your face.  I will absolutely think about dessert when we get home.

In the car this week we got into a discussion about the validity of flying reindeer.  Now I know that what I am about to reveal is highly controversial, but bear with me.  I do not let my kids believe in Santa.  Are you disappointed in me?  I know Cheryl is.

The thing is, I found Santa confusing.  So I decided that we would present Christmas presents as gifts from us and just ignore the whole your-gifts-are-tied-to-your-ability-to-please-a-stranger-who-looks-a-lot-like-Renaissance-God-in-a-coca-cola-ad part.  For my daughter this was a non-issue.  She didn't/doesn't care and honestly, would have questioned Santa's existence by the age of 4 anyway.  She is a lot like me.

Ah, but Griffin.  While driving to school, Griffin told me he didn't want Santa to be pretend.  Griffin asked me how the reindeer could fly and I said, "Well, they can't.  Reindeer are real, but they can't really fly. That's just pretend."  He got that look.  The one that says, "you are crushing my soul and I will not rest until every vehicle in a three mile radius feels my visceral pain."  The sentiment came out like this:  "BUT I WANT DEM TO FLY!"

So what do I do?  Lie and let him believe that generous strangers pulled by impossible cold-weather mammals are the source of his Mega T-Rex this Christmas?  Can I let him continue his unreasonable desire to believe in cartoons and fairy tales?  Or do I let him have a full-on melt down on the way to school which will result in the teacher physically pulling him screaming from the car?

Turns out lying is actually pretty easy sometimes.  You're right, Buddy.  Reindeer CAN fly.


  1. Yay! I'm so happy that you're blogging again! And I'm thrilled that Griffin wants reindeer to fly! While I understand your reason for not letting your kids believe in Santa, I think it's okay to encourage our kids' imaginations--even if it means letting them believe in cartoons and fairy tales if they choose. Childhood is precious and amazing and all too short.

  2. So I just read this article where Justin Bieber said that his mom didn't let them believe in Santa, either. I cannot believe I have something in common with Justin Bieber's mom.

  3. Did your parents let you believe in Santa when you were little? -Lorie

  4. Kind of. My dad really wanted us to play Santa, but my mom thought it was part of a growing consumerist culture (she was/is a hippie). Their compromise was that as soon as I asked questions they would be honest with their answers. The result was that I was 4 years old when I stopped believing in Santa. We still made cookies and had stockings and got presents on Christmas morning--and I do all of those things with my kids, too.