So… lately I have found myself doing quite a lot of truth stretching and inventing in the act of parenting. I’m wondering … how much leeway do other parents allow themselves in this realm? Let me offer a couple examples.
My oldest little guy starts spring soccer this week. There are four teams each time, one of which is the red team. My guy LOVES the color red. He will choose it anytime he is offered a choice, and I literally have to force him to wear a shirt in another color when all of his (many) red shirts are dirty (often). ANYWAY, I received notice that we’ll be on the white team this season. Not the red team. (You don’t get to pick). I thought for two days about how to spin this ahead of time to avoid the meltdown on the first day of practice. Since practice is tonight, I had to do something today. So, this morning, when he was fully awake and happily munching pancakes (no, I don’t cook on weekdays, we freeze them from the weekends), I told him that I had gotten a call from the soccer coach. (This is a lie). The coach told me, I said, that the coolest team this season would be the white team, and he asked if I thought he’d want to play for that team. (Also a lie). I made it sound like he was specially invited to be a member of the coolest team there was (being cool has become kind of important as we near 5, unfortunately). He asked if he could be on the red team instead. I told him, sure, but that I thought he’d want to be on the coolest team and that the coach would probably be sad. (He’s beginning to be empathetic to the feelings of others). He considered, and quietly said, “okay, Mom. I guess the white team will be okay.” So the moral here is that while he isn’t super excited, he will be prepared to find out this evening that he’s not getting a red shirt, and he’ll have reason to believe that it’s actually BETTER to be on the white team. Is this lie ok?
Or how about this one — I told the kids that the Easter Bunny had dropped by and been quite disappointed to learn that these little boys were having a tough time staying in their beds at night. He told me, I said, that I should call him right away if they got out of bed between now and Easter, because he would not be able to drop by to hide eggs and fill their baskets if they weren’t being good little guys at bedtime. Last night I pretended to (loudly) have a phone conversation with E. Bunny right outside their door, talking about how I thought they were messing around, out of bed, making lots of noise and asking what I should do. He had me go in and tell them that they could have one more chance. They were quiet the rest of the evening. Okay lie or bad lie? (you are wondering if I’m really willing to cancel Easter, aren’t you? I am wondering that, too.)
So how far is too far? Is okay to be less than completely honest with a four and two year old to avoid excess trauma / drama?