Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lying to Kids is FUN!!!

Over at The Cupcake Tent, Red talked about telling kids that the things in scary movies just aren't real... even though Red herself isn't entirely convinced.

That made me think about how FUN it is to lie to kids!!

Don't you all agree? I'm a parent and a former teacher. Some of my best fun comes from the lies I've told kids over the years.* Ah... the memories!

Think about all the lies adults tell kids... lies we say are actually GOOD for our kids. I'm not going to list them all here, because I don't want some of my fellow younger bloggers to learn the truth from me. But yes, I am talking about the Great Pumpkin and the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

My personal favorite is the one we (my ex-husband and I) used to tell our daughters. We were very young parents-- I was 20 when my oldest was born. Suffice it to say, we didn't have great parenting skills back then. I'm a much better mom now than I was in my early 20s. Trust me on this one. Don't have kids until you're finished growing up yourself.

But I digress...

Discipline is hard. You have to be firm and consistent. When I was young, I had a tough time with consistency. So, my oldest daughter learned from me that she could usually argue her way out of something. Getting "pwnt" by a 5 year old is not something I'm proud to admit. But there you are.

So, the ex and I made up this fabulous trick. If we wanted her to behave, we would just tell her about Ingrid. Ingrid was a mean, old, nasty [make-believe] babysitter. She [allegedly] lived in a broken-down, ancient farmhouse -- which actually did exist and just happened to be on one of the roads we drove quite often.

ME: "Oh, I know you don't want to throw that temper tantrum! Because if you do, then I'm going to have to call Ingrid to come babysit you. She takes care of little girls who throw temper tantrums. I'll just go give her a call!"

DAUGHTER: "NO! No! I'll be good! I promise!"

It actually worked most every time. Only once did she ever doubt Ingrid's existence. When that happened, I called my sister and asked her to pretend she was Ingrid. When my daughter got on the phone and listened to that witch-like voice, she was scared for two days straight.

Yes, I know. I'm going straight to hell.

Please don't comment and tell me what a horrible parent I am. I promise you that we stopped doing that after a year or so (when we decided it was cruel, but more importantly, figured it wouldn't work forever) and it became a big joke in our family. In fact, that daughter is a senior in high school now, and we still laugh about Ingrid. I'm hoping Ingrid will make an appearance at Daughter's graduation party somehow.

*Okay, not really. I'm a good person. Really I am.


Sparkling Cipher said...

Ingrid, that's funny.

My parents did something similar. I have a large birthmark in a spot I can't easily see without a mirror. They told me it was a "mean spot." When I was bad, they'd turn me around to look at it and tell me that it was getting bigger. Unless I wanted my whole body covered in "mean spot," I had better start behaving. It worked like a charm, but even though I had figured out they were lying, I was still self-conscious about that birthmark until I was into my twenties.

Anonymous said...

That is freaking hilarious.

Silly me, I was thinking about things like how I perpetuated the Tooth Fairy story so well with my daughter (complete with little teeny tiny notes written by "Beatrice" to Hannah) that when Hannah figured out that Santa wasn't real, she was fine... until she did the math and realized that neither was Beatrice. She cried for an hour.

It didn't occur to me to SCARE them with lies. DOH! Too late now, I guess... (rats)

Stinkypaw said...

If that makes you a bad person heading for hell, I wouldn't want to know where a lot of parents out there will end up!

I think it's good to keep your kids on "their toes"... ;-)

Margaret Ann said...

funny, my child is scared of the tooth fairy...doesn't want a stranger in her bedroom, so I can't imagine what she'd make of Ingrid! With the amount of sass flying around these days, I'm tempted to try it though!

Alyssa said...

I love freaking kids out. In fact - I'm so good at it, I'm kind of nervous about ever having kids because my sisters will get their hideous, terrible revenge.

And I haven't even mentioned my friends and my roommate from college.

Maybe I can get some cactus plant instead.

goldennib said...

That's hysterical.

I gave my daughter money and toys if she would behave. She's rich now and I'm poor.

lizgwiz said...

I don't remember my parents concocting any particular memorable lies--I mean, teaching devices--but my brother and I used to have a lot of fun with our incredibly gullible younger sister. We lived down the street from an orphanage, and repeatedly she fell for "we're all going on vacation...but not YOU...you're going back to the orphanage 'cause you're ADOPTED." She cried every time. So mean. But come on, how many times should one kid fall for the exact same line? Hee.

metalia said...

This is hilarious; and so true--it reminds me of that old "Deep Thoughts" quote from SNL: "One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no,' I said. 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."

don't call me MA'AM said...

sparkling: That birthmark story is a classic! I never thought about doing something like that. Think it will work on teenagers??

tammara: you are such a fun, creative mom! I was so bad... the Tooth Fairy often "forgot" to come the next day. I'd have to make up some dumb excuse about how I probably forgot to leave a window open or something.

stinkypaw: no kidding. Like the woman I saw in the store the other day SCREAMING at her kids. Gah.

margaret ann: I was afraid of the Tooth Fairy when I was little, too. I thought she might get greedy and try to get my other teeth as well! ;-)

alyssa: I can tell you from being the first one to have kids in our family, revenge has been sweet on my siblings. They taught my kids the worst things, and now payback has been SOOOO much fun! Maybe a cactus plant IS a good idea. haha

goldennib: But maybe your rich daughter will pay you back as she gets older?? We keep teasing my mom that she's going to have to live with my sister... who will feed her only corndogs and chocolate. I think it sounds like a pretty good deal, don't you??

lizgwiz: Ah, yes. The sibling lies. We had all kinds of those. My brother has much darker skin than my sister and I, AND our parents. We used to tell him that he was the UPS guy's son. ;-)

metalia: Love, love, LOVE "Deep Thoughts!!" And that Disney 'thought' is one of my personal favorites!