When I was young and newly married, I was just filled to the brim, with ambition and ideas about how I wanted to raise my children.
I wanted to teach them to speak English, French, and Spanish. So they could be trilingual by the time they were in preschool.
I wanted to feed them vegetables twice a day.
I was never going to raise my voice to them, or say things like; "Because I said so" and "You need to work it out yourselves". (I still shudder even typing that one out, because of residual damage from being the younger sibling who always lost at "working it out".)
I wanted to have my children potty trained by two years old, and never ever have two kids in diapers at the same time.
And most of all, I was never going to lie to them.
I had carefully considered the pros and cons of all forms of lying to Children.
Using the bait and switch.
"You can have a surprise if you brush your teeth." ...The surprise was something lame like a new tube of toothpaste, or a turn to choose the bedtime story.
I decided that that could lead to eventual distrust and I didn't want to chance it. So that type of lie was definitely out.
Trickery for a purpose.
"If you eat the crust of your sandwich, your hair will turn curly." ...I force fed myself crust until I was twelve because of this one. ...Still a little bitter about it.
So that type was definitely out.
Famous fabricated characters used to inspire good behavior, and/or scare children into submission.
"OK, now lets be good so Santa will bring you lost of presents." or "The tooth fairy doesn't give money for teeth with cavities."
Why should they live in a fantasy world for their first few years just to have their dreams crushed by some blabber mouth kid on the playground. Therefore coming to the realization that their parents are liars, and they should probably not trust them ever again.
And last, but not least;
The blatant evasion of an awkward question.
"Mom, where do babies come from?" Well the good ones come from Nordstrom, and your brother is from Savers.
I could see the appeal of this one, but wanted to avoid any form of lying at all costs, in order to avoid the backlash I was convinced would ensue should I tell my children one lie. So this type would have to go too.
I had myself convinced, that even though no woman who came before me had ever actually succeeded at never lying to their children, I was for sure going to pull it off. Out of respect for their young intellect, and fragile emotions.
Until one day...
I was on a trip to the Motherland with my husband's family. We were at church, and my little niece (a native of California) needed to use the restroom. I agreed to take her, so her mother could stay in the chapel and continue listening the speakers. Little did I know what was about to happen to my poor prematernal dreams.
No sooner had she stepped into the stall, when the first question came.
"Why don't they have toilet seat covers in this restroom?"
Now maybe it was my determination to be honest with my own children. Maybe it was my tendency towards letting words escape my mouth before I think them through. Maybe it was my own germophobia that led me to mutter this (totally age appropriate) response to my six year old niece;
"Because apparently nobody in this state has STD's."
Then the followup question.
"What are STD's?"
Aah, what could I say now?!? There I was, trapped in an unsanitary public restroom with a wide eyed young child, asking the most awkward and difficult question. And me with my naive yet ambitious determination to never lie to a child...
But what else could I do. I wasn't about to have the birds and the bees talk (or the Debbie Downer version which includes the discussion of STD's) with someone else's kid, and certainly not in the church bathroom. But, I had to say something that would satisfy her curiosity enough to avoid her asking her mother (out loud in front of the entire congregation) the moment we got back into the chapel.
So I abandoned my poition, and said this;
"Uh, STD stands for Sitting on the Toilet Disease."
Why couldn't my brain have worked that fast after her first question! Then I wouldn't be in this mess, and I could still keep my lofty goal for a few more years.
But it worked. She was fine with that response, and we skipped off to rejoin our family, and listen to the speaker talk all about honesty.
Just after I had learned the true value of a lie.
No harm, no foul. I learned an important lesson about having more realistic expectations about parenting, and she seemed just fine. Though I'm pretty sure to this day she has never sat directly on any toilet seat, for fear of contracting an STD.