Oct 232013
 
Family fibs pinocchio's ose

I wouldn’t have been so gullible if the Pinocchio legend was true. (Image credit: Wikipedia Commons)

NBC’s Today show did a short segment on family fibs. These are stories that parents tell children, probably because reasoning with them is much more cumbersome.  The funniest was Carson Daly’s report that his family told him that if the ice cream truck was playing music, it meant they were out of ice cream.

Nearly all, if not all, parents fib at some point in time. Which ones were unique to your family?

Toy Stories

Many family fibs in the electronic age center around a loud, obnoxious and usually much-loved toy.  Before we had kids, my husband and I observed a colleague surreptitiously removing the batteries out his toddler’s toy. “Son, let me see that. It sounds like it’s about to break. Why don’t you go play with something else and Daddy will fix your toy later.”

Family fibs removing batteries

Puppy is mysteriously quiet when separated from his batteries.

Mean? Maybe. But so is the more honest, “Honey, your piano playing is giving me a headache.” Did your family’s chaos management system entail a little fib or two or more?  These family fibs make great additions to a Treasure Chest of Memories.

Fun Family Fibs

Sometimes parents fib primarily for entertainment. The young and the gullible are the “victims.” Snipe hunting. Easter bunny.

My mother-in-law serves store brand frozen garlic bread with her spaghetti. When he was younger, my son gushed so much over how wonderful “Grandma’s garlic bread” tasted, we went with it. To this day, I don’t serve frozen garlic bread in my house. He thinks it’s something that Grandma can do better than anyone else.

Perhaps I got my urge to tell white lies about food from my dad, who loved to tease us. For instance, he told us that spinach was grass that a cow had already eaten once. My mom didn’t think it was funny, but it’s a great memory.

Wives Tales, Urban Legends, and Family Fibs

Of course, we were all told we couldn’t swim for 30 minutes after eating. Wives’ tale or did they want help with the dishes?  Tons of these family fibs center around conception and delivery—I won’t list them here.

Healthy Living Lies

In the same Today segment, Al Roker remembered being afraid to go to sleep. Despite admonishments that eating too many chocolate stars would turn him into a chocolate star, he’d eaten way more than his fair share.

Similarly, my peers and I were told not to cross our eyes because they’d get stuck that way and shaving our legs too soon would make our leg hairs darker. (I still like to believe that the rumor that chocolate will make your face break out is a big fat lie.)

Family Fibs to Allay Fears

family fib about screens and monsters

Screen trumps monster…

To me, these are the most harmless of all. I’ve written about the Magic dragons that helped me screw up my courage. Before they came along, however, I was deathly afraid of the Abominable Snowman. I would not believe he didn’t exist. After all, I’d seen him on TV. The fact that I called him “Abdominal Snowman” might have made it harder for my elders to argue with me, I don’t remember that part.  Finally, my dad and grandpa explained to me that window screens were the “Abdominal” snowman’s Achilles Heel. He couldn’t get through them.  He could break glass, but couldn’t get through screens. Thus we were safe in my grandparents’ fully screened house.

Relieved with knowledge of impenetrable window screens, I settled down.  Looking back I don’t resent their lie. It was GENIUS!

This just scratches the surface. What family fibs were told in your childhood home? Which ones do you tell your kid? Use igpay atinlay if they can read.

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  4 Responses to “Family Fibs: Lies Parents Tell Children”

  1. Very nice post, Laura. I’m running three memoir writing workshops a week at the moment but I never tire of reading others’ memories and drawing ideas for my students and for myself from blogs such as this. Looking forward to more!

  2. Geez, growing up with my mom’s old Italian side we were inundated with wives tales and healthy living lies!

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