Parenting & Lies

As I get closer to doing some actual parenting, I have been reflecting on the performance of my parents.   I'm sure as most people, I want to take the good things they did for me and apply it to my parenting.  This only guarantees that I will mess this kid up in a completely different way.  I'm fine with that, though.  Messing up kids is the main part of parenting.  During my reflection of my youth, I realized that my parents lied to me a lot.  I was one of those kids that thought my parents could do no wrong and knew everything.  Google didn't exist back then to prove otherwise, so I just took their word for everything.

My dad was there full time up until I was 9.  You couldn't tell me that he wasn't the fastest and strongest man in the world back then.  I would argue with kids in school about how strong my dad was.

      - My dad can pick up a house!
      - Well my dad can pick up... a... BUILDING!

I thought he could beat up any man and woo any woman.  The latter is why he was only around full time until I was 9.  My opinion of him was so high that it was believable to me that he had to fight this big kid named Sinbad (I'm an idiot) every day on the way to school.  These fights were long and drawn out and in the projects of Chicago.  He was a bad man!  I sat there in awe as he told the awesome fictional story.  I'm sure I will tell stories to my son one day.  I wonder if I will incorporate ridiculous lies.  What if my son asks me why my elbow is so dark?  How can I be prepared to answer that question?  Google?  Maybe I can tell him what my dad told me.  He was the running back on his football team and the coach kept calling a running play straight up the A-Gap.  Some huge kid from the rival school was the linebacker (Sinbad?).  This kid was waiting at the other side of the A-Gap and they would hit each other so hard that they fell to the ground.  Each time he would land on... you guessed it... his elbows!  Next play, coach.  A-Gap run up the middle.  Again?  Yeah!  And they did it again.  Crashed into each other and fell on their elbows.  This makes sense, right?  I will never forget sitting in the bathtub and looking up at this awesome athletic Sinbad slaughterer as he recounted this glorious football war.  He sacrificed his elbows, man!  He's a freaking hero!  Turns out he never played football.  

That moment and that story lives with me to this day.  Is it so bad that he fibbed a bit?  Well, completely, but I don't know if it's so bad.  I wouldn't remember that moment if he said, "I don't know son.  Maybe I didn't use enough cocoa butter on my elbows."  Where's the sacrifice in that?  Where's the entertainment?  Once we went to my aunt's house in the summer in Chicago and I was marveling at the fireflies.  Then my hero of a father began to reminisce on when he was a kid.  He was on the baseball team, so naturally he had a baseball bat for practice.  He saw the fireflies outside and decided to take some swings at them with his bat.  He had a powerful swing.  He took a few swings and hit a bunch of fireflies.  Then he rubbed his hand down his baseball bat and smeared the fireflies down the bat.  Now his bat glowed in the dark!!!

Okay.  That was ridiculous.  If I did decide to capture my kid's imagination with some crazy stories, I wouldn't go that far.  Even though I believed him, I would give my son a little more credit.  I would hope my son and I have a relationship where he can call me on my bullshit.

      - Nice story, Dad, but come on son!
      - Alright, but I did have a bat, though.

Then there is the lovely Mom of mine.  The lies she told were for my well-being so I kind of understand.  The thing is, she was a hero of mine too, so I believed these things.  I'm almost embarrassed to say this; but, I was under the impression that corn and potatoes were not vegetables for a long time.  We're at a buffet and she tells me that I have to get vegetables.  I got corn and got sent back to the line.

      - Corn is a starch, not a vegetable.

I carried that "knowledge" around for too long.  All she had to say was get another vegetable.  I had mashed potatoes on my plate as well, but that's also a starch.  What's wrong with me?  I must really like starches.  Let me go get some green beans to go with these non-vegetables on my plate.  Thanks Mom. Now I look like an idiot at school when I pass this new information on.  And I was that know-it-all kid, too.  Kind of a douchebag when I think about it now.  But any new knowledge in my little rude head was a weapon.  If my son is like I was, I will definitely have to watch the misinformation.  It could make him look as dumb as I looked.

My family went fishing in Florida when I was a kid.  I had to be about seven or eight at the time.  We hadn't learned how to swim yet and Mom didn't want us going in the water.  She was quite the disciplinarian, so if she told us not to go into the water we would have listened.  But fear of her wasn't good enough.  She needed to make sure we don't go in the water.

      - Don't go in that water.  It's dangerous.
      - Why not, Mom?
      - Well, it's a lake.  They put large fans in the bottom of lakes.
      - Why?
      - For circulation.  To make the water circulate.  So don't go in there.  Those fans could hurt you.

Douchebag me locked that information in for future know-it-all usage.  This was good stuff.  None of my friends would know about the fans in lakes!  Maybe their moms knew, but their moms don't have the wonderful relationship my mom and I have.

Fast forward to the summer of 2008.  My friends are visiting us in Jersey from Sweden.  We tried our best to have fun things to do while they were there.  My good friend suggested we all go to a Thursday evening outdoor movie by the Brooklyn Bridge.  That was a great idea.  We all love movies, outdoors and national landmarks.  All in one?  I'm in!  We go to the movie and have a great time.  It was basically a triple date.  People hung around and socialized after the movie.  I go off with Swedie for a peaceful walk out to the water.  We stand at the railing and look over at the Brooklyn Bridge off to the left.  It's beautiful out there.  The sun is almost done setting and is glistening off of the water.  The water is rippling due to the passing of a boat.  I start to ponder the type of water this is.  Maybe it's a lake.  Maybe that's why the water is rippling like that.  I say to Swedie:

      - I wonder how they get the fans in there.
      - What?

Poor her.  She doesn't know.  Her mother doesn't love her as much as mine does.  My tone becomes condescendingly sarcastic.

      - Fans.  This is a lake.  In the bottom of every lake there is a large fan.  It cir...

Then it hits me.  26 year old me!  That I have been lied to by this now EVIL woman that I trusted.  Swedie is now laughing and trying to get me to repeat the stupid shit I was just saying.  Even worse, this isn't even a lake.  The Brooklyn Bridge goes over the East River, which is actually not a river, but an estuary, or a tidal strait (Google exists now).  So I look extra stupid for nothing!!! I grab my phone and immediately call my mother.  As I call, I tell Swedie that I believed this lie I was told almost 20 years ago.  She laughed more in my stupid face as I waited to confront my mother.  She asked how I could still believe that.  Now I was getting annoyed and feeling dumber than ever.  I was so sure that this was a learning opportunity for Swedie.  Nope!  The tables turned quickly.

The evil lady finally answers the phone.  Before I made the phone call, I thought lying to your child was the worst thing a parent could do.  I realized during the call that there is one thing worse.  FORGETTING the lie you told your innocent child is worse.  She just did the damage and moved on with her life while I carried this ridiculous information around with me.  And she was laughing!  She assumed that she told us that for our safety.  Yeah, thanks Mom.  I felt so stupid in such a beautiful setting.  All I could do was laugh at my naivet√©.  I hope my son looks up to me enough to believe everything I say.  As I hope I have the discipline to tell him good, true stories.  Lies for safety?  I prefer truth for sanity.  If I do fib, I'll at least remember it!  Until next time...


  1. I am literally laughing out loud about the fan. Bless your heart.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

From Hero to History (my daddy issues)

Confessions of a "Good Guy"

About strip clubs