Sunday, 2 November 2008

‘Wine makes mummy clever’ and other lies we tell our children

I laughed recently when a friend told me she felt guilty about having warned her son, when he reached 11 or so and became inordinately interested in his penis, that it would drop off if he played with it too much.

My own mother’s lies included that our spines would melt if we sat too close to the fire, that we’d get worms if we ate sugar straight from the bowl, and that we’d get nightmares if we ate bananas or cheese directly before we went to sleep.

And then there are, of course, the ‘regular’ lies we tell our kids when they’re young, most usually about Father Christmas. My sister dearly wished her 10-year-old son to have ‘just one more Christmas’ believing in Santa Claus and his little elf toymaker-helpers before being made privy to the big bad world of consumerism, but she was a bit too late: opening a lovingly wrapped rugby ball on Christmas morning, he said to her, ‘Mom, if this is from Father Christmas, he shops at Game, just like you do. And this cost him R69.99.’ Then he shot her one of those looks – the ones most teenagers get in their How To Irritate The Hell Out Of Your Parents goodie bags when they turn 16. (He is, needless to say, precocious.)

I can’t recall any specific lies I told my children (although I’m sure I did), but I did spend a lot of their early childhood very stoned. I was a dedicated marijuana smoker for years, and would still be if my children hadn't so inconveniently turned into teenagers, who can tell a stoned smile a mile off. So marijuana hasn’t featured in our house at all for a long time (and I can’t pretend I don’t miss it).

I remember particularly one evening when my son, then about 12, woke up late one night with a sore throat. I’d been working (I did a lot of my best writing work stoned) and, distracted, I searched through the cupboards for Panado pills, which I usually gave my kids for pain, but couldn’t find any. The only painkiller to be had was Grandpa, an analgesic powder. My son, understandably, didn’t want to take it, but there was nothing else, so I said I’d help him get it down. ‘Open wide,’ I said, ‘and put your tongue onto the roof of your mouth.’ My thoughts elsewhere, I tipped the powder in more-or-less the direction of his mouth. Then, still not really concentrating, I handed him a glass of water and told him to wash it down.

The next morning my son was right as rain but there was a strange little smattering of white powder on the kitchen floor. Serving up Cornflakes and orange juice to my kids, slightly bleary-eyed, I looked at it and murmured, ‘Hm, wonder what that is?’

My son giggled. ‘You don’t remember, Mom, do you?’ he said. ‘Last night you tried to give me some Grandpa. But you missed.’

If my children grow up to be axe-murderers, it will be all my fault.

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1 comment:

Juno said...

A brilliant post, Mur. I had a good laugh about your parents' lies... recall some good ones of my own. Will put them in a new post.