Alex loves Santa. When we were home for Christmas, we took him to see Santa at the Bass Pro shop three different times. We have three different photos from three different days with three different Santas. I think by next year he might pick up on that. Almost daily he is still asking me, where Santa is? What is Santa doing? Yesterday alone, we pretended to be helping Santa at the North Pole for over an hour. After thinking about Santa so much in January, I can't help but think of my friend Heather. She doesn't ever want to lie to her kids, so she has told them the truth about Santa. Then I began to realize how often I lie to my child.
Example One - the circle of life: I don't really want Alex to know that some animals eat other animals to survive. In fact, I try to gloss over the fact that we eat animals to survive. I'm happy that he hasn't realized that the chicken we eat is the same as chickens with feathers. I was raised on a farm, and my family hunts. I should be better at handling this. I just love animals so much that I don't like to think about it myself. I know that this is a very important concept in science, so I do want him to learn it, just not yet.
Example two - death and dying: For a long time, when we would see a dead little animal on the side of the road, I would say it was sleeping. He now knows that those animals are dead because it is a very bad idea to play in the street. I think I had to come clean on this issue when Tasha, his pet goldfish, bit the dust. Of course, Alex thinks she is in heaven with God. And why is Disney so set on showing this to our kids? Alex has never seen the beginning of Finding Nemo. At some point, he will be old enough to watch all of it, but then I am going to have to explain why his version was so different. Did you see the Friends when Phoebe saw the end of Old Yeller? It will probably be like that.
Example three - birds and bees: Picture us at the zoo. Mommy, why is the daddy panther being mean to the mommy panther? Sure, I could use this as a teachable moment, but he is four! Can't we put this talk off a little while longer?
Example four - childhood fears: Alex is afraid of Kermit the frog, and I don't know why. For several months, I have tried telling him that Kermit is a nice frog, but it is so sad that he can't ever visit us because he lives far, far away. This fear of Kermit keeps us up at night and causes all of us to loose sleep. I finally gave up and told him that Kermit won't go into his room because Kermit is afraid of Alex's nightlight. Would you believe it worked? Maybe it isn't technically a lie since Kermit may really be afraid of nightlights.
I would say I am an honest person, but maybe I am not. Do these things count as lies? I do try to tell him the truth whenever I can, but it is tricky. Where do you draw the line between pretending and imagination and false truths? Will he understand that I was trying to protect his innocence? Will he use this against me and lie all the time? Will all of this lying put me on the naughty list? I am sure the answers are not easy, so in the meantime, if you see me hanging from a telephone wire, would you please get me a ladder?