I fully advocate telling lies to your kids if it’s for their own good and the sanity of your family.
As a mom? I lie.
I lie a lot.
The thing is, I’m not great at it, but every time I do it The Kid believes me. I remember when she was little and refused to eat almost anything but macaroni and cheese and cereal. Those are the two staples that kept her alive. We used to have horrible fights at meal time, but then we became smarter parents and changed strategies. Eating should never be a stressful event.
We decided to tell her that she had to have whatever we were eating on her plate, but that she didn’t have to actually eat it.
I made sure that there was always something she would eat, applesauce, peaches, whatever, but the deal was that she didn’t HAVE to eat the other things on her plate, veggies, main dish, rice, etc.
That went well, and after a few weeks of doing this she would “sneak” bites of formerly battle inducing food when she thought we weren’t looking. Eventually she got to a place where she would try the things on her plate and she ended up liking them for the most part.
We still had the occasional prayer where she’d say “Please bless the food even though I know it’s gonna taste gross, and I’m not going to like it.” But hey, she was trying. And it was a whole lot better than the fighting and stress that dinnertime used to be.
Often she didn’t like the main dish. It was usually meat back then.
Because of her delicate palate? I took up lying. I had to. I’d tell The Kid any and every meat was chicken. She believed me when it was beef. She believed me when it was turkey. She believed me when it was chicken. She believed me when it was pork. She believed me when it was bacon. She believed me when it was salmon, halibut, and orange roughy. She would NOT believe me when it was ham.
And it is all The Man’s fault.
It went like this,
The Kid, in a high pitched keening voice that, if we had a dog, would have boiled its eardrums – “What is this?!?” As if I’m feeding her some sort of decomposed kitty cat heart.
Me, playing it cool and trying to take the lie sound out of my voice – “It’s chicken.”
The Man comes into the kitchen, sees what I’m making, and immediately says – “I don’t like ham. Is that what we’re having for dinner?”
The Man saying this causes me to glare at him.
(Honestly, If I tell The Kid it’s rude to make ungrateful statements about what’s for dinner, you’d think he’d know it was TRIPLELY rude and QUADRULPELY unacceptable for HIM to say this.)
The Kid, panic rising like the flag on D-Day, strong, bold, indelible – “What?!? HAM!?! That’s not chicken?!?”
As The Kid says this I mouth bad words at The Man. Cursing him for saying this was anything other than chicken, he KNOWS better! But now that the “pig” is out of the “bag” I can’t very well insist that it’s chicken.
Me, in my best soothing Mr. Roger’s voice – “You’re right honey, I’m sorry. I forgot. This IS ham.”
The Kid answers me like I picture the chicken that survived having its head cut off would talk. Huffy. Confused. Hoping this is nothing more than a bad dream. “But but! Do I like ham?” (As if I’m going to tell her she hates it and it turns to poison in her mouth. Which. You know. I did consider telling her, but we aren’t rich enough for that kind of therapy.)
I delicately try to Obi Wan her – “Yes.”
At the same time The Man decides to play Emperor Palpatine – “I don’t think you’ve ever had it before.”
More glaring from me at The Man. SERIOUSLY! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM!?!
The Kid, feeling unsafe in a world where her parents don’t know essential facts about what’s for dinner, starts to cry.
I hold her and pet her hair while saying the things mothers say to calm their children. Mostly “Shhh” as in “You father is a sh..”
At the same time I silently but effectively communicate to The Man, via gestures-over-The-Kid’s-head, that he will be sleeping with the fishes if he says anything else.
The Kid calms down and speaks through her still trickling tears – “But I don’t know if I’ll like it!”
Most people would tell the child to try it and THEN they will know if they like it. Those people are insane.
And probably childless.
Adult logic does not work on kids. You have to think like they do.
Me, in a genius light bulb moment – “Yes you will. You’ll like it.”
I want her to truly feel the magical impact of my next words. I tilt her face up at mine so we’re looking eye to eye.
“It’s got SUGAR in it!” In this moment? I am the smartest mom in the world.
Excitement replaces fear of the unknown as my words work in her brain. The Kid’s eyes fill with a new hope – “REALLY?!? I like sugar!!”
She follows this up with jumping, clapping, and yippee’s.
Me, relieved and thinking I maybe won’t have to ritually sacrifice The Man after all – “Yeah, look right here, it says it’s ‘Honey Ham.’ ‘Honey’ is another word for sugar…just like ‘happy’ is another word for ‘joy!’ It’s the same thing!”
The Kid, now filled with ‘happy’ and ‘joy’, takes off racing to the table – “Let’s eat!”
While eating the “sugar” ham she gets the kind of eye sparkles you only see at the end of a Christmas special and says to me, “Mamma, thanks for making
this! I LOVE sugar ham!”