“I’ve been looking for that! It must have fallen in there by mistake!” I cried, when William found his latest drawing in the recycling bin. That was the moment I realized how good I’ve gotten at barefaced lying since having children.
It’s not just the expected parental untruths either. I expected I’d end up saying that carrots help you to see in the dark and crusts make your hair curly. What I didn’t expect was how good I would get at lying on the hoof. “No! Of course I’m not taking that bag of toys to the charity shop. I was just gathering them together so that I could put them somewhere safe.”
I’ve heard it said that the Queen thinks the world smells of wet paint as everywhere she visits has just been redecorated in her honour. In the same way, my children think the world is full of children’s rides which are out of order, sweet shops which are closed and ice cream vans which have run out of ice cream.
Then there is the Father Christmas/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy lie. Now, before you strike me from your Christmas Card List, I am not suggesting we tell the truth about our imaginary friends a moment before we need to (although I wouldn’t mind getting a little credit for the hours I spend looking for good stocking presents.) However, the lengths some of us go to in order to perpetuate these magical myths (footprints in flour, scraps of torn red cloth in the door jamb, ‘dropped’ gifts on the lawn etc.) are on a level of subterfuge of which the CIA would be proud.
Research tells me that I should not be lying to them at all, but my parents told me the odd tall story as a child and I still trust them now. When we were young, my sister and I were given a dead (smelly) seahorse by an old couple who had found it washed up on a beach in Cornwall. By the time we arrived home from our holiday, the seahorse had magically disappeared from the boot of my parents’ car, allegedly to seahorse heaven. Surely this was a far more palatable story than the truth of him being rudely ejected by my dad somewhere along the M4?
Sometimes the truth is just too tricky. When we lost my dad last year, William (aged 4) was very upset at the prospect that, one day, he would lose me too. I lied that I had fixed it so that he and I would live forever. Although child psychologists would gasp in horror and tell me that I should have met his questions head on with gentle, considered explanations, I just didn’t have it in me. My instinctive lie was what he, and I, needed to hear right then.
Therefore, whilst I will endeavour to be truthful as often as possible, I am not going to feel guilty about the odd fib. As they get older, the important subjects will be discussed and the less important, such as what really happened to William’s ridiculously large collection of pinecones, will be remembered as family myth.