Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Liar, Liar...

Last night the Tooth Fairy visited our 6-year-old in his top bunk. Ben's tooth actually fell out four days ago, but he and I kept forgetting to deposit it at bedtime. He was in a panic yesterday afternoon that "she" just might not come anymore. As if his tiny tooth was an outdated check that couldn't be cashed. But she came. Of course, since "she" wasn't prepared (as usual lately), the Tooth Fairy left four quarters instead of a paper dollar. Ben said he thinks that was her way of telling him to remember earlier next time.

In case you're wondering if he's really hip to the scene and is just playing along--well, my kids aren't hip to anything. Evan only just figured out last year that there is no Santa. Shhh. And only because he directly asked and I spilled the polar beans. I could have probably squeezed one more believing Christmas out of him by bold-faced lying, but it was his time. Ben still believes in it all though; and slipping those quarters under the pillow at 4 a.m. got me thinking about all the other non-truths/lies/fairtales we adults tell kids. Some are for tradition, some for their own good, and some just to yank their little chains. Things like:

The Tooth Fairy
Who was the idiot who got this one started? Paying kids for their outgrown or decayed teeth! And they all ask what she does with them. Tooth castles, necklaces, crowns...I keep trying to come up with something believable. Yesterday I said I think she grinds them down and recycles them into dentures for old people. But we all believe in her when we're little. I remember rolling over at the crack of dawn one morning as my grandfather was slipping a quarter under my pillow (yes, we only got one quarter back then kids!), sitting upright and screaming, "Grandma! Grandpa's stealing my toothfairy money!"

Santa Claus
I get where this started, but it's the hardest one to break. No parent wants to confess when they're finally out-and-out asked if the man in red is the real McCoy. We lie with a straight face for several years. Sure, we start transitioning them out of if slowly with sayings like "Now, Santa can't bring you everything on your list..." or "Santa doesn't bring children PS3s when he just brought them a PS2 last year..." or "Santa wasn't thrilled with your last report card so you'll be lucky if you get anything, Buster." When they're hip enough to realize that Santa can't be at each mall at the same time, we tell them those are just his helpers. The real Santa is at Macy's in New York. (Wanamakers if you're from Philly!) Now that one son knows, we just hope he can keep a lid on it so we can continue to lie to #2 for a few more years.

The Easter Bunny
Why children ever fall for this one is beyond me. I know they're innocent and gullible, but for Pete's sake! Come on kids! A rabbit delivering colored eggs and baskets of candy? How freaking huge is that rabbit? Surely someone must have caught him lurking about and called the police. Yet we all tell the tale, and they all believe it, and we all love it. When I was growing up in my grandparents house, I believed in him completely. When my uber-religious father came back on the scene, he laid down the biblical law and said plainly, "there is no Easter Bunny, there will be no more Easter baskets." Man out-and-out killed the rabbit for us. He was like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction -- only with a gut, a beard and a Bible.

Everday Fibs
Fairy tales aside, adults lie to kids constantly. Mostly for encouragement or to spare their feelings. "Keep practicing like that, and you could make the majors!"..."That was the greatest band concert ever! I could really hear you up there!"..."You're much prettier than that mean girl said!"...the list goes on. Doesn't make us bad people. Just makes us human, and humane.
Now I've got to get ready to pick up the kids from daycamp. They'll be bringing home refrigerator magnets made from macaroni or pipecleaners. "The most beautiful magnets I've ever seen."

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