Sunday, 2 November 2008

How parents lie to children

I laughed and laughed at my co-blogger Muriel's post about the lies that parents tell their children: 'Wine makes Mummy clever.' I laughed because over the years I've told my children many small white lies. I laughed because my parents told me lies too. And, most of all, I laughed because the lies don't really change over the generations - they're passed down from parent to child like shining pearls.

A recent survey revealed that parents lie to their children often, and with great consistency. According to the survey, these are the most common parental porky pies:

  1. Father Christmas only gives presents to good children
  2. Father Christmas only visits children who go to sleep nicely on Christmas Eve
  3. Sitting too close to the television will give you square eyes.
  4. Eating spinach will make you strong.
  5. If you pull a face and the wind changes direction, your face will stay like that
  6. If you play with your private parts, they'll drop off
I told my children lie no. 2, but I couldn't sustain it for long, because my conscience got the better of me by the time they were about four and I had to admit to them that there was no Father Christmas, no Easter Bunny, no Tooth Fairy and, in my opinion, no Baby Jesus or God either. I also lied to them about TV square eyes and about spinach.

The other lies I told:

  • Eating fish grows your brain and makes you do better at maths
  • Eating carrots improves your eyesight and lets you see in the dark
  • The jingle played by the ice cream van means they've run out of ice cream [I was enchanted to learn that this is a very common lie among parents]
  • Injections do not hurt one bit
  • This medicine is delicious
  • Wrap up warmly, or you will catch a cold, and, put on a jersey at once or you will get pneumonia
  • Daddy and I have locked the bedroom door because I'm showing him your birthday presents
  • The pet parrot, Piper, flew away because he was missing his mummy and daddy and went to find them [the bird was eaten by a feral cat]
  • The daddy dog is giving the mummy dog a back massage [a good old rogering, actually]
And here are a few of my late father's favourites, which were passed down from his parents, and which might well have been true in the twenties and thirties, but which were just harmless urban legends by the time the sixties rolled around:

  • If you eat unwashed lettuce or garden greens, you will get liver flukes. Which might crawl out of your nose.
  • Don't buy crayfish off the side of the road, because they have been bred and raised in septic tanks and latrines
  • Don't sit on cold ground, or you will get piles.
My dad also gave me some bloody good advice, which I follow to the letter:

  • Don't ever fly in a light aircraft, ever.
  • If in doubt, catch a taxi.
  • Wash your feet before you climb into a bed with clean sheets.

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1 comment:

tonypark said...

Not a lie, so much, but my little brother and I finally realised there was no santa when we awoke one Christmas morning to NO presents.

Mother: "Um Santa forgot to get the presents off lay-by yesterday. You'll get them on the 27th."