Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Little white lies
Let’s be honest. We lie to our kids.
Like how all the Snickers bars are gone (they’re not).
Like how the blue shirt goes with the red pants and neon yellow socks (it doesn’t).
Like how their crafts project is the most spectacular piece of art that ever graced the earth, rivaling both the “Mona Lisa” and “Dogs Playing Poker” (it’s not).
These little white lies are not meant to be hurtful. Rather, the opposite. Their purpose is to spare tender feelings, bestow warm fuzzies, establish trust in a “the world is full of rainbows and unicorns” kinda way.
Except in the case of the Snickers bar.
Nobody comes between me and chocolate.
So lying is a rite of passage for parents. But it comes as a shock when you discover your world of little white lies is precariously perched on a towering pyre full of spark-worthy kindling just waiting for a match to light up the world.
Enter Indiana Jones.
In the same vein the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man threatened to be the innocent-looking downfall of the brave Ghostbusters, I was blown away when I discovered that the swashbuckling professor of archaeology and romancer of females would one day waltz in and spark a discussion I wasn’t quite ready for.
Over the years, our young son had occasionally popped up with a question regarding where babies come from.
So we said what every parent says, “A man and a women meet, fall in love, get married and have a baby.”
That’s all the information they need at the time.
Once in a while, as the years passed and he spent more time observing the world around him - and learning how to do armpit farts - he would ask for a little more clarification.
“How does the baby get into the mommy’s tummy?” or “Does the daddy have to KISS the mommy first? YUCK!”
G-rated stuff, my friends.
So all was great in our world as we waited until that fateful day when puberty reared its temperamental head and necessitated “The Talk.”
But thanks to that fedora-wearing, whip-toting windbag that day showed up sooner rather than later.
There we were. Watching the fourth installment of the Indiana franchise. Those unfamiliar with the storyline might like to know that the movie takes place a couple of decades after we first meet Indy and his search for the ark of the covenant.
(Spoiler Alert) About halfway through film #4, we discover that Indy and his long-ago love, Marian, have a son. EGADS!
Considering this was about the fifth time our nine-year-old son had seen the film, I wasn’t prepared for his unexpected reaction.
But today was a special day, and it appeared those brain synapses of his were firing especially fast.
He frowned, looked at me and said, “Hey, if Indiana Jones and Marian never got married, then how did they have a son?”
I opened my mouth to answer. Something. Anything. A set of words that, when strung together, would help dig me out of this sticky situation.
But his sweet baby face looking at me for a little honesty was just too much to handle.
I decided it was time to face the music.
“Well, kiddo,” I said gently, bracing for impact, “men and women don’t have to get married to have a baby.”
Then, in a PG kinda way, I briefly - BRIEFLY - explained just a little bit about the proverbial birds and bees.
When I finished, he jumped from the couch and tore from the room.
I. Am. Screwed.
At first, I thought he was joking. But when he didn’t return, I went looking.
And found him sitting in the office, curled into a big chair, his head down, arms hugging his knees.
I leaned over and gently touched his shoulder. “I’m really sorry, honey, but I didn’t want to lie to you any more.”
He raised his head, a couple of tears stained his cheeks. He looked me straight in the eye and snarked, “Mom, you are creeping me out! I don’t want to hear anymore.”
OK. He wasn’t ready. Lesson learned.
The truth is overrated. Little white lies are OK.
At least until you’re 10.