Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Parents, Lying like a Rug

Oh gosh, isn't it satisfying for the American Public to watch a kiddo sell out his lying parents, as Balloon Boy did on National TV? Indeed it is!

Umm, that is, unless it's you, American Public, and we all know you're a bunch of liars, too.

Of course, kids lie. My own kids have been known for fabrications, and then there are the lying students I'm hired to catch as high school vice principal. I've learned that it's not so hard to tell when someone's lying; what's hard is figuring out what to do next.

But it's those darned parents that have been teaching innocent kids to fib. Parents like you and me. Maybe you're not constructing balloons and elaborate hoaxes which implicate your own children, but I know firsthand that you're calling your child in sick to school as your flight leaves for family vacation in Mexico. And I know this because your sophomore told his Algebra teacher he needed to know which assignments were due while he was in Cancun.


The problem isn't that parents aren't trustworthy. It's that those darned kids can't be trusted to Keep The Story Straight. They lie, and then like Balloon Boy, they throw up from the stress.

But according to research, we're lying to our offspring about everything from Santa Claus to what happens when people don't brush their teeth. We are both premeditated and spontaneous liars. And all the while we proclaim that lying is unacceptable.

Apparently, I am guilty of a classic parenting lie: The Police Threat. This untruth is best employed when your child is in the throes of a hair-curling tantrum. "If you don't stop screaming," you warn, "the police will come." See, the thing about this scenario is that there has been many a time I believed I was telling The Truth. Not only because we have a Sheriff living behind us. Once, my daughter actually yelled for the police, who, allaying my fears in this instance, didn't come.

Another version of The Police Threat comes in handy when your child is attempting to get out her carseat mid-freeway.

This weekend, though, my hollow threats came back to haunt.

On Sunday I took my daughters and a friend to Sea World. We were all pretty exhausted at the end of our excursion, in part because we walked around in circles in the parking lot for what felt like an hour before we found the minivan. As we loaded up, my weary arms didn't properly slam shut the back hatch of the van, and I noticed the "open door" light only after we had exited the parking lot. So I pulled over on the shoulder of a busy road, hazard lights on, and scurried to the rear of the van to secure the door. By the time I got back in the driver's seat, a police car had pulled up behind me.

I thought it was bad form to flash the "all okay" sign and drive merrily away from the cop without explanation, so I stayed put and rolled my window down as my passengers fell eerily silent. I explained to the helpful policeman why I pulled over, and we both went on our ways.

"Whew," I heard my daughter whisper to her friend as we merged into traffic. "That was scary. I TOTALLY thought my mom was going to get arrested."

Aww, honey, I was tempted to interject, Getting arrested is what happens when you LIE!

1 comment:

kris said...

Why/how does she even know arrested? When do little kids become aware of "being arrested" and what do they really think it means? This cracks me up!