Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lie to Me, I Promise I'll Believe

A friend recently broke the news to her 9-year-old twins that there is no Santa Claus. They asked, and she found that a lie just wouldn't come out of her mouth. Out came the truth instead.

It got me thinking. When I was a child myself, old enough to be in on the adult secret of Santa but young enough to know that this is the tiniest of the truths that adults keep from children, I swore that I would never lie to my kids. Not about Santa, not about anything.

I have one friend who holds himself to this standard today, but not me. I lie, lie, lie to them, and I plan to lie to them some more. I've lied about how babies get inside mommies (mommy and daddy share a special kiss), I've lied about having not only eyes in the back of my head but also on both sides, and I plan to keep lying about Santa as long as I possibly can (Could this really be the last year for Nutmeg?)
Just yesterday I lied again, by omission.

Nutmeg, ever the self-directed kid, found out about an arts contest at school. There were several categories, including photography, the one she chose to enter. Two winners in each category would advance to a regional competition.

After taking a dozen photos or so, she chose this one with some help from Epu and I.

Epu helped her mat it and shrink wrap it, using his own experience from the art contests of his youth. She turned it in, and then yesterday at Monday morning assembly, a parent volunteer came forth to announce the winners. I got out my phone, ready to take a picture just in case. 

Sure enough, they called her name, and I was gratified to hear her friends in her class cheer. After she walked up in front of the school, the parent said, "These kids all participated in the art contest and did a great job." My heart sank because I realized then that these weren't the winners. They were each given a green "Participant" ribbon and a small prize, and then the teacher called a shorter list of names, and said that those kids had submitted "really special" entries or something like that, and gave them winners and bigger prizes.

The winners weren't really smiling, and I think this is because even they did not understand from the parent's intentionally vague winner that they were the winners and the other kids were, well, not. Nutmeg sure didn't get it. 

After I took this picture, she kept repeating, "I can't believe I really won!" When I saw her later at recess, she asked to use my phone so she could tell her dad the news. When I picked her up from school hours later, she skipped right out, her prize still in hand, and repeated, "I can't believe I really won!"

Did I break it to her gently? No way. I hugged her, said something vague like, "I'm so glad you had fun entering the contest," and hoped that she would never figure it out. She did mention that she wasn't sure if she was one of the winners who was going to advance to the next level, and she seemed fine with that, so I am hoping she will never find out.

Was that the right thing to do? Should I have made sure that she heard the truth from me before she heard it from someone else? Am I just a big wuss?

I think so, nope, and yep. But today, I didn't hear her mention it, so I am hoping that the whole thing will blow over without me having to take any heart-breaking action. It's not as if she is a fragile little fairy who couldn't take the disappointment. Maybe it's me who couldn't take being the agent of that disappointment.

After all, this is a kid who was brought to the nurse's office this morning after falling and scraping both hands on the blacktop, and told the nurse as she had her wounds swabbed, "A lot worse has happened than this."

A lot of worse things will happen to my children than finding out they are not the No. 1 Winner of everything they attempt. But here's one pledge I'll keep, if I can help it: The bad news ain't coming from me.

1 comment:

Kori said...

Love this. Love it, love it, love it.