A little while ago, I had to dole out a punishment to one of my kids for a particularly grievous crime. When they whined, wondering why the punishment was so stiff, I told them the truth: I was on a sugar rush from too many Twinkies, thus impairing my decision-making skills.
Okay, so that wasn’t really the truth. My kid knew it, too. But it killed me that they were more upset about their punishment than atoning for their sins. It’s important for kids to take responsibility for their actions, be they good or bad. As for me spouting off about my Twinkie problem, that's totally my father’s fault.
Now before I explain, let it be known I love my dad a lot. He’s a great father, grandfather -- an all around good guy. But there's one thing about him that drives me crazy: he loves to tell tall tales.
Case in point: One Saturday when I was six or so, my dad made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I told him I was tired of PBJ. Mom had made them for lunch all week. He responded, “Mine are better. In fact, they’re the best in the world. I’m the PBJ making champion. I won a medal and everything.”
And I believed him.
Now you might say that little anecdote says more about me than about him. I was a gullible kid. I was also six and never thought my dad would lie to me. Still, when I announced at the school lunch table that my dad was a champion PBJ maker, all the kids started laughing at me. I put two and two together.
As I grew older, I got even wiser. My fellow siblings did, too. When Dad told us we’d eaten monkey meat after leaving a Chinese restaurant, we just rolled our eyes. When he said he’d seen Sasquatch during our trip to Colorado, we didn’t believe him then, either.
We got used to his antics, often enjoying his attempts to pull one over on us. Then something happened that changed his ways. He told the best tall tale EVER.
It was 1980, the year Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter for the U.S. presidency. We were sitting around the dinner table talking about the election when Dad announced, “I sat in Ronald Reagan’s lap.” All of us looked at Dad and laughed. How did he come up with this stuff? Unabashed, he continued with his story. We humored him and listened.
Back in 1950, when he lived in Chicago, his family won a contest claiming them “The Typical American Family.” One of the prizes was a loving cup, long since broken and thrown away. Another was a home visit from the cast of Louisa, a movie in which Ronald Reagan starred. Dad was seven at the time, and as cute as can be. Ronald Reagan strolled through their apartment’s front door. “He plunked down in your grandpa’s chair, sat me on his knee, and told me stories. It was cool.”
Yeah, we thought, too cool to be true. Dad swore to us he was telling the truth, but he’d told so many stories over the years. How could we believe him? For months he held firmly to his version of events. For months we just shook our heads. Then one day my father had had enough. I still remember that day.
I don’t know how he got them. They must have been buried in one of Grandma's drawers -- pictures, plus a newspaper article, too. He slapped them on the kitchen counter.
Whoa. We stood there, completely amazed. Dad had been telling the truth.
My grandparents welcoming the cast of 'Louisa' (from left to right): Connie Gilchrist, Ruth Hussey, Ronald Reagan, my Grandpa Bill, my Grandma Marge, and Piper Laurie.
Connie Gilchrist feeding my dad something tasty while the others look on. What a lucky kid!
Posing with the family (from left to right): Ronald Reagan, Ruth Hussey, my Grandpa Bill, my Uncle Bill, Piper Laurie, my dad, my Aunt Kathy, and my Grandma Marge
There he is! My dad sitting on Reagan's lap!
I can’t say Dad’s stories ended after that. He still loved to pull our legs. In fact, he still does -- to his grandkids, too -- and, you know, I love him for it. He doesn’t string us along like he used to do, though. He says he’s kidding right away. And when we ask for the truth, he always tells it…at least I think he does.
(p.s. If the pictures were too small for you, do yourself -- and me -- a favor. Hit the orange RSS feed button at the top. It will not only subscribe you to my blog for free, the pictures there are HUGE!)
Credit where credit is due:
Thanks, Aunt Margie, for digitizing the photos so I could use them for this post. You're awesome!
Last week I wrote a post about that crazy pageant mom who gave Botox treatments to her eight year-old daughter. Well, if you’ve been watching the news you know the story didn’t end there. A few days later Child Protective Services removed the daughter from the woman’s custody until further investigation. After that, the mom panicked, explaining the story was all a hoax, fabricated to make some money. She also said the reporter who originally broke the story was in on it. Then the reporter called the mom a liar, saying she believed it to be true -- she even saw the woman give her daughter injections!
Who’s telling the truth? We don’t know yet. We do know one thing, though. Someone's lying.
So why do people lie? In the case above it may have been for money, to get a child back, or sell some newspapers. There are many other reasons, though. People lie to get things, like a job, or get rid of things, like a used car. They may want to make someone feel good, or make them feel bad. They might also just be lazy, afraid, or want to cover their butt.
I meant figuratively, not literally, Sheesh!
Whatever the reason, everyone has to acknowledge lying comes with risk. You can lose respect, someone’s trust, as well as a lot of sleep. You can also lose that job, get sued for that car, and under certain circumstances there’s even jail. When you go down that road you never know exactly where you’ll end up.
But enough of the lecture. You’re probably wondering about moms. Do they ever lie?
I’ve got to be honest with you. If I said I never lied it would be a big fat fib. Here are some examples of my dishonesty:
Confession #1: The pacifier fairy did not come and take my son’s last binky away. I took it out from under his pillow, tossed it into a bonfire in a fit of joy, and replaced it with a Thomas the Tank Engine story book.
My reasoning: Fear he would hang onto my pant leg for days, tears streaming down his face, begging for his binky back. Fairies have a strict ‘no take backs’ rule and are conveniently unavailable during times of weakness. Strangely, kids get that, even at a very young age.
Confession #2: That chicken I made last night? In truth I did make it the exact same way I made it four months ago.
My reasoning: Frustration, exhaustion, and certainty that if my kids really -- I mean really -- gave it a try this time they might have liked it.
Oh, and while I’m coming clean here, the crust is not -- I repeat NOT -- the best part of the sandwich. Moms say that because not eating the crust is a waste food. Plus the crust has eight times more pronyl-lysine (an antioxidant that raises phase 2 enzyme levels which helps prevent cancer) than the white part, and has more fiber, too. Even though it’s not the best part, it’s still a pretty dang good part so, come on, EAT YOUR CRUST.
BTW, if you think I knew that whole antioxidant thing off the top of my head you are wise beyond your years. I am that smart. Really. ;)
Before I go, there's one more thing. I asked a huge group of kids (four) what they considered to be the biggest lie parents told them. They all agreed it was the one about kids being able to grow up to be president. What? No, 'Where do babies come from?' I blame the sample size. Well, anyway, as it relates to the whole 'president' thing, all I can say is this: Many of our presidents came from humble beginnings. You really never know. Someone has to be president, right? Why couldn't it be one of them? Plus, there's this awesome quote, too:
“When you reach for the stars you might not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud, either.” - Leo Burnett
One of a mom’s most important jobs is to encourage their kids, give them the confidence to pursue their dreams. It’s a tough world out there, don'tcha know. Having someone in your corner makes a difference.
So, yes, sometimes your mom might lie but she does it with the best of intentions.