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The Lies I Tell My Daughter

Growing up, I spent many a summer week lolling away in the sunshine beside the pool at my grandparents’ home in Tennessee. I loved vacationing there with my family for many reasons. Obviously my grandparents were there, so that was great. Plus the neighbors had horses, the pool had a diving board and my grandmother had a ready supply of miniature Charleston Chews. She kept them tucked away behind the sponges under her kitchen sink. I was alerted to the secret cache by an older cousin and in turn told exactly zero of my four siblings because those little nincompoops were candy hogs.

Instead I made bathroom excuses to my mom by the pool, then snuck dripping into the kitchen to savor yet another sticky chocolate treat. Eventually, because maybe I was not the savviest candy-hungry 8-year-old, my mom figured out something was going on. And at some point, out of concern apparently, she followed me inside. She waited until I had my greedy little mitts on a piece of candy then broke in.

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“AHA!” she cried. “I had a suspicion that you didn’t actually need to spend half your time in the bathroom this morning.” “You don’t know that for sure,” I countered, “I’ve eaten 13 pieces of candy already today, I’ll probably spend ages in the bathroom later.”

“Lauren, Charleston Chew is your Granddaddy’s favorite candy,” she told me seriously. “And it’s really difficult to find in stores around here. That’s why Grandmother keeps a special supply under the sink for him.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.” I said, abashed. “I’ll stop eating it then.” And I did.

A couple of days later my granddaddy took me with him to run some errands and lo and behold, what should I spy near the cash register of the local convenience store but a regular-sized Charleston Chew. A number of regular-sized Charleston Chews actually.

Maybe my own mother was correct and maybe I’ll tell a tall tale or two to my own children after all.

“Granddaddy! Look! I found these for you!” I announced excitedly, waving handfuls of the candy around.

He glanced my way. “I can’t stand those things, too sticky. But throw one on the belt if you want it for yourself.”

I did want it for myself. I also wanted to know why my mother had lied right to my face. So back at the pool, I confronted her about it.

“Sometimes parents fib for the good of their children,” she explained calmly. “You’ll understand when you have children of your own.” I swore up and down I wouldn’t. “I’ll never ever lie to my kids and they’ll be able to eat as many Charleston Chews as they want,” I told her emphatically. I was so certain she was wrong.

But then, 22 years later, I had a daughter. And just eight months in, I find myself fibbing already. “Mmmm mushed up peas are scrumptious,” I promise her at dinner. And “Mommy has a lovely singing voice you know,” I yell to her from the driver’s seat of my car before I launch into yet another reprisal of "The Cannibal King." (A song with somewhat questionable lyrics about a cannibal who falls in love with a maid and then wades across a lake every night to kiss her inappropriately under a bamboo tree.)

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Plus I’m most assuredly going to lie my face off when it comes to things like Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy. So maybe my own mother was correct and maybe I’ll tell a tall tale or two to my own children after all. “I’ve locked the cabinet under the sink for your own safety,” I’ll explain gravely. “Because of chemicals.”

But really because of miniature Charleston Chews.

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