The other day Daisy showed me a lovely smooth, round, flat, pebble she found at the beach. 'Did you squash that pebble?' I asked. She looked at it, perplexed. 'How did it get so flat?' I said. 'You must have stood on it and squashed it.' Again she looked at the pebble, turning it around in her hands, mystified. 'I didn't do it!' she replied in defence. 'Maybe a dinosaur squashed it' I replied.
Later, I told another porkie pie. 'Murray Wiggle is coming for dinner on Sunday' I said. The kids were beside themselves with excitement. 'Can I do colouring in with Murray? Can I do ballet for Murray? Can Murray read me a story?' 'Absolutely!' I replied. ('Murray' is actually my friend Gary who has that Wiggle-ish, slightly manic exuberance of a puppy who's just gulped down a large bowl of red cordial. He even looks a bit like Murray. In fact if Murray were to break a leg, Gary could slip into the red skivvy and nobody would even notice.)
Life is peppered with little white lies to our offspring. I'm not talking about serious boy-who-cried-wolf lies with consequences but we do tell them a lot of stuff which is, frankly, bullshiz. There's the traditional Santa, Easter Bunny and tooth fairy fables. The old 'too much TV will give you square eyes' and 'eating your crusts will make your hair go curly' tales. My many regular porkies include; 'sorry, the toy shop's closed today', 'eat up your magic fairy trees' and my current seasonal favourite, 'right, I'm going to have to call Santa!'
I adore my little monkeys. But let's face it, sometimes this parenting malarkey gets a little dull and repetitive with all that bum wiping and tripping over Matchbox cars. I call this making stuff up 'situational creative embellishment'. I like to have a little chuckle on the inside. And kids are really gullible.
But where do we draw the line between fantasy fiction and fodder for therapy? Could all this making stuff up be screwing them up? Is it beyond hypocrisy to preach to your kid 'every time you tell a lie, a fairy dies'? Are the kids scarred for life because 'Murray Wiggle' turned up with frightening Movember mutton chops that were more Chopper Reed than Hot Potato?
There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics. According to Wiki Answers:
- 12% of adults admit to telling lies "sometimes" or "often". (Presumably the other 88% were lying when they answered that question.)
- The profession with the highest number of liars is teaching. (Gullible kids, why wouldn't you?)
- The most dishonest time of day is between 9 and 9:30 in the evening, with the early hours of the morning most likely to reveal the truth. (In vino veritas perhaps?)
- Australians are the most honest people in the world, followed closely by Norwegians, Swedes and Belgians.
- The most profligate liar in history was US president Richard Nixon, who researchers found to have lied on record 837 times on a single day. (Politicians lying? Who would have thought?)