The lies we tell our children

Published April 10, 2015 by Lunapo

We all grew up with it, and many of us continue on the tradition. We were lied to as children and we lie to our children. Though the lie in question is a matter of perspective.

What began the lie last night, the lie Hubby and I are both fully committed to telling Witchlette as the truth, because we both see it as truth, began in two ways.

First, it was raining on the way home from dinner.

Second, she brought up Santa. Yes, that’s another lie we tell her. Santa is a being who brings her presents. Gifts from Mom and Dad are given at Yule. Santa then brings gifts on the night of the 24th/morning of the 25th. But it’s April, so why am I talking Santa?

Witchlette has a thing about people. She loves people- meeting new people and making new friends. She sounds like Mr. Rogers as she calls all those around her “neighbor”. As we’re driving home, she said to every single passing car, “Hi Neighbor!” I giggle and said to Hubby, “See? Everyone is ‘neighbor’,” which she, without missing a beat, repeated. Then it expanded. “Neighbor home!” She called. Then, “Santa home!” A slight pause, “Everybody Santa.”

She’s not wrong- everyone is Santa because Santa is the Spirit of giving and loving that pops up every mid-November and disappears by mid-January.

So, we’re fully entrenched in the Santa lie.

Then she saw some lightning. The look of wonder and mystery in her eyes said she had never really seen it before. Yes, it has thundered and lighteninged around her, but she never stopped to notice. I said to her, “Lightening means Thor is out playing.”

She knows who Thor is, more Mavel Thor than not, but it’s a start. She knows Mommy wears Thor’s hammer around her neck. And she knows that Thor is a good guy, someone whom she wouldn’t be too uncomfortable to be around- so long as he wasn’t having a rager at the moment.

The next lightening struck. “I see Thor!” Another. “I see more Thor!”

When we got home from dinner, she had her cup of pre-bedtime milk and stood at the backdoor to watch Thor play for a little while longer.

I had heard stories told by other parents to my peers as a child that thunder was the angels bowling and lightening was the lights flashing when they got a strike. Parents of times long past had told their children it was Zues making lightening, then Thor. As we have become more educated, many of us have been able to consolidate myth and reality- positive and negative charges come together to form a spark, which we see as lightening. This is a really abstract concept: particles? charges? Thor is much more concrete, and much more awe-inspiring at this young age.

In my English II class, we started reading Persepolis this week and one of my students asked what “prophet” meant. I explained that it is a person whom is chosen by God. God talks to that person and that person gets everyone together and tells all the people what God told them. She responded, “But that’s fake. God’s not real.” I said, “It’s about your perspective. If you believe in something, then for you it’s true but if you don’t believe then it’s not true. For example, do you know who Mo’ne is, from the Little League World Series?” She shook her head. “Does that mean she’s not real?” “No, she’s a real person.” “Exactly. But you don’t know her. So she’s not in your world, but she’s still real.”

So, perhaps I am not lying to Witchlette after all. Hubby and I both believe Thor to be a true deity; we both believe him to be the protector of humans. We both believe that in times of struggle, he is one of the deities that may come forth to lend a hand. While I scientifically know Thor is not the one causing lighting strikes, who’s to say the beating of his hammer isn’t causing the particles to collide which causes the strikes? He is one of the deities who is real to us because they are part of our world.

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5 comments on “The lies we tell our children

  • I’m a nanny and the oldest of the girls (she’s 3) asked why there are knots in her hair when she wakes up or why there are holes in her and my clothing. I told her a knot troll comes in each night and ties knots in her hair, and that she and I have a closet monster putting holes in our clothes, making them shrink, or pulling out the stiching. She thinks it is the greatest thing ever. It’s hard when they are so young to explain the science of everything. It’s much easier to give them a story now and explain when they are older. L knows there is really no monsters or trolls, but she thinks it’s funny all the same. I’ve tried explaining how her hair tangles as she sleeps or that clothing gets worn by stretching, pulling, washing, etc, but she didn’t quite grasp the concenpts. Trolls and monsters (especially when she can relate them to Frozen) are much easier for her to understand.

  • My oldest daughter was so angry with us for weeks after she figured out Santa and the bunny… She saw us as liars that she couldn’t trust for a while. That said, we have decided not to continue the Santa mirage with our younger/future children (we have a toddler so far) because we couldn’t consolidate the “lie” part with the “greater good” it was supposed to be bringing. You make a good point about Thor and the lightening and Santa being a spirit of giving; however, I think I will borrow this concept to explain why others believe in Santa. Great post!

    • I’ve heard of a number of folks who either themselves were angry with their parents for the lies or had children who were angry. One woman told me she felt like she wasn’t able to trust her mother anyone because she had lied for years, so what else had her mother lied to her about. I’m hoping were able to consolidate things for both Witchlette and Witchling to avoid this anger and trust issues.

  • We started out kids out with the idea that there are different kinds of real. For example, Tinkerbell and Thomas the Train are not real, but they have stories that teach us things that are real, and are important. Santa is an idea that is real and important, even if Santa as a man is not.

    Even now, at 6 and 8 (despite patently telling them otherwise), the Tooth Fairy is real, Santa is real, Cupid is real, the Sabbat Faeries are real, and Easter Bunny is real, the Farfennughen is real (a creature they made up that lives in the woods and eats zombies), zombies are real, etc…because they’ve made them that way.

    But I never lied to them about any of it–my kids have the curse of having a scientist as a mom…I’ve long erred on the side of too much information (sometimes on purpose, in the hopes that it would bore them), whether its been “where do babies come from?” or “what happened to my hamster that escaped?”

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