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Research shows that the average person lies several times a
day, even if you aren't Brian Williams. I am one of those average people. I like to think my lies are benevolent—they don't cause harm and,
better yet, some of them make the world a better place.
That's what I tell myself about the lies I tell my 5-year-old daughter.
Yes, it's a double standard that I insist she tell me the
truth, when several times a day I lie through my teeth straight to her face. For now, however, I'm sticking to my
good-intentioned lying because it greases the wheels of my family life and
brings more harmony than the truth ever could.
Here are the top 7 lies I tell my daughter:
1. Mommy loves math
I don't want my daughter to shy away from math or internalize the idea that math is for boys.
I've probably said this a hundred times to her. It's no truer today than it was the first time I said it. But I don't want my daughter to shy away from math or internalize the idea that math is for boys (her father actually does enjoy math), but not for girls. I'm doing my part for feminism by broadcasting to her that women can and should embrace math.
2. That looks great, Sweetie
My daughter has been dressing herself since she was 18 months old. To her, putting together her outfit is a form of self-expression, and on the few occasions I've intruded into her choices, she's fought back fiercely. When she sashays into the kitchen, twirls before me, and asks, "What do you think of my outfit, Mama?" I have a choice. I could share one of the many thoughts I have about her polka-dotted dress, striped leggings and mis-matched socks. However, I can't bring myself to squelch her enthusiasm for her sartorial creations. So I don't. I tell her that it's "very creative" to pair a Snow White sock with a Hello Kitty sock. Then I hug her and tell her a great fiction: "That looks great, Sweetie."
3. I don't know
Kids are curious. They want to know stuff all.the.time. Lucky for my daughter, I know lots of stuff. But sometimes (like at 8:30 on a school night), I'm not up for answering her questions. So, I feign ignorance even though I actually do know why we never see our neighbor any more (she passed away) or why women have babies but men don't (um, the uterus). My theory is that if I'm not prepared to give her an age-appropriate, factually correct answer, then it's OK to punt with a little white lie.
4. Mommy's not going to die for a long time
This technically isn't an outright lie, but it feels like it, because I say it with so much conviction that I am flat-out promising her that she will be a grown woman with kids of her own before she has to face my physical demise. If I die unexpectedly, she will feel like I lied to her. But when she's twisted up with anxiety, worried about the prospect of her mommy dying, I can't help but tell her that's a long, long way off. In this case, I hope I'm right.
5. Mommy forgot her wallet
If I don't have my wallet, the negotiation is over.
This is a great lie to employ when walking by the Disney Store. Of course my kid wants the "Alice in Wonderland" tea set or the "Frozen" lunch box. As a first line of defense, I explain that acquiring more consumer goods will not bring her joy. Spoiler alert: That never works. But if I don't have my wallet, the negotiation is over. This lie saves her the trouble of a tantrum and saves me (and the members of the general public) from having to endure her whining for the next several blocks about that must-have Disney product.
6. The battery on my phone is dead
Like forgetting your wallet, claiming that my phone is dead cuts off negotiations before they become unpleasant (i.e., before my daughter starts crying and telling me that I'm the meanest mom on the planet). I've done it before and I'll do it again. I don't get hung up on pesky details like whether my phone actually has any juice left.
7. Mommy's going to bed as soon as you go to sleep
I've found it's easier to skip the part where I tell her that Mommy is going to eat ice cream straight out of the carton and binge-watch "Scandal." Lying is not right, but telling the truth can cause way more trouble than it's worth.