Come Along With Me, Love

It’s been a big week for the truth around here.

I just read XUP’s post on how truthful we are as parents with our kids, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I really try to be as honest as I can with my kids, without freaking them out. I want them to trust me to give them real answers, and I hope that when they get older and get into some tough situations, they’ll be able to turn to me for honest advice.

There’s this one episode of Friends in which Pheobe is playing a serious of concerts for kids (I think she has a librarian boyfriend), and her songs are about how the food we eat comes from cute little cows, and about how grandma didn’t move away, she’s dead as a doornail. All the parents are shocked, but then one little kid comes running in to the coffee shop at the end looking for “the lady that tells the truth,” and the children gather around for more of Pheobe’s songs. While I realize it is quite pathetic to aim to live your life like a Friends episode, that storyline always comes to mind when I’m faced with a tough discussion with the kids – I want to be “the lady who tells the truth.”

The Captain has two very loose front teeth, and about a week ago he asked me quietly at bedtime if the tooth fairy was real. Already I have had some inner questions about the whole tooth fairy/santa thing, so although it was kind of a sad “my baby!” type moment, I told him the truth, that it really was just Mommy and Daddy and it was a fun thing we do, like a game.

(Then I assured him he would still get his tooth fairy money, so he was happy to go off to bed.)

A couple of days later – I KNEW this would be coming – we had a similar talk about Santa. I told him a lot of stuff about how Santa is like the spirit of giving and love of all mankind and blah blah. I asked him not to tell Gal Smiley, since she still liked the game and it made Christmas magical for her. I though he might be upset, but he took it well enough.

(Especially after I assured him that he’d still be getting presents. PRIORITIES.)

Yesterday he asked me if he was adopted. That was a pretty easy one to answer on the side of truth.

So my track record is pretty good, but I find I am still balking at the sex talk. SHUDDER.

We’ve been listening to Great Big Sea in the car these days, and they have a song called, “The Jolly Butcher.” In it, a butcher visits a tavern and spies him a lovely lady. He offers her a sovereign to sleep with him for the night, and she accepts. In the morning, he suggests that she owes him some change from the sovereign (jackass). A year later, he’s back in the tavern and along comes the same lady with a three month old baby. She plops the baby in the butcher’s lap, declaring, “I gives you back yer change!”

Hilarious. Except when you have a curious seven-year-old who would really like to know what this song is about. Ummmm…get back to me in seven or eight years, kid. Or nine. Or twenty.


13 thoughts on “Come Along With Me, Love

  1. As soon as I saw the title of your blog post, I thought of “The Jolly Butcher” from GBS.

    The truth is a hard thing with kids – I admire your ability to tell the truth about Santa – I’m not sure I’ll be as ready. Thankfully, the Little Man is only about to turn four and so far seems to enjoy the magic.

    I found out today that the supposedly 11 week old baby in the making has no heartbeat and stopped growing around 6 weeks. We’re doing okay, but the Little Man has taken it hard, so desperate is he to be a big brother. When the Santa question comes around, I just hope it’s easier to talk about than this one.

    Great post!

    1. Oh Carly, I’m SO very sorry to hear it. I’ve been there myself and it’s just so hard. Hope you’re all doing okay and sending you the biggest of hugs.

  2. Being truthful is hard. But it is the way I want to parent too. Lies always come back. I remember some lies my parents told better then I remember the truths.

  3. I’ve been reading a few posts about this in the past week, with quite a few people saying they remember lies their parents told and are bitter about them. I don’t relate to this at all. I try to be truthful on things that matter to my kids, but I don’t have a ruthless truth at all costs policy — for the same reason we screen tv shows for inappropriate content. I don’t know that I’ve ever told a point-blank lie, and I have no problem being honest about big issues like where babies come from and what happens when we die (bottom line being I don’t know). There — part of my new policy of not staying quiet just because I’m afraid my opinion might be unpopular.

  4. like allison, i don’t remember any lies that my parents told me, so either they were very good at it or there weren’t any big ones.

    i hope to be honest with the jb, but i will play along with the santa/tooth fairy,/easter bunny for as long as he wants to play as well. i like the whole magic of these things and think it’s a fun part of childhood. i wasn’t irreversibly scared by it.

    when we had to put edgar down i told the jb that edgar was dead and was gone for ever. his like three yr old brain still doesn’t get the concept of forever and still asks when edgar is coming back from the doctor. i figure he will eventually forget or will finally get it one day.

  5. Betsy Mae

    OH NOOOO!!!!! OMG, pls say my seven year old doesn’t ask me about Santa and the Tooth Fairy, I will be so so sad! I thought we’d have another couple of years??? Is this the time when kids start to question it???

    I am the same, it’s important to be as honest as possible. I think kids can handle the truth more easily than we give them credit for, kids are smart!

    I’m not afraid of the ‘sex’ talk, I intend on sticking to the facts and just answering questions. My kids know the basics about babies, just not how ‘the seed’ from the dad gets to be inside the mom’s belly…I know a big factor BUT nobody has asked me about it.

    1. I expected us to be able to carry on until at least age 8 with Santa, but alas, no. He actually had some probing questions this year at Christmas, at just age 6. I think he’s a really analytical guy, though — he just didn’t believe it was logistically possible. Our girls are much more willing to go with the “it’s magic!” explanation, so I’m sure we have a few more years there :).

  6. CapnPlanet

    Yeah, honesty is the best policy. True in interactions between adults, just as true with your kids. Honesty builds trust, and that is something you don’t want to undermine with your children.

    That can be hard, though. My four-year-old has been curious about death for some time, and I don’t shy away from my convictions about it. As others have pointed out, at that age they’re not really capable of understanding anyway, but hopefully at least it will get them thinking about it.

    I think being honest with your kids can also lead to discussions with them that can teach you something. A while back in a moment of extreme frustration, I lost my cool and yelled out ‘FUCK’, and of course my four-year-old latched onto that. Now I’m betting that most, if not all, people reading this blog don’t believe that there’s really anything evil or dangerous about saying that word. At the same time I don’t want him saying it – at least not yet. But what do I tell him when he asks me (as he has, many times), if that’s a “bad word”?

    Before he was born my wife & I had a long conversation about this, and in the end we settled on what I think is the best way to think about it. If it’s not a bad word, why shouldn’t we say it, or why can we only say it sometimes (questions that will almost certainly come up)? Because other people don’t like that word. And even if we don’t understand why they don’t like it, or don’t agree with them, we do need to be respectful of other people’s feelings.

    That’s the truth.

    1. I like your explanation. We are having similar talks lately about the words “stupid” and “fat” – about how they offend most people and are not to be used lightly. It’s these grey area issues — sometimes okay, sometimes not — that are hardest. I just hope I we are not confusing them!

  7. I wrote about Santa and the Easter Bunny a while ago too, and I keep hoping my 8yo will ask so that I can tell her the truth. We talk about how some kids don’t have enough to eat or have all the nice things we have, and I have a hard time telling her that in a world where Santa could just bring toys….or hot soup.

    Surprisingly I have no trouble talking to my daughters about sex even though my own parents never told me anything at all. I have a much harder time explaining violence and hate to them, and have sheltered them probably more than I should have from world events.

    1. Oh my heavens, Finola, HELP ME! Tell me everything you’ve told them about sex. Better yet, I’ll have you over for tea and you can bring it up :).

  8. We had misgivings about Santa from the get-go but somehow he got sucked up in it. He asked at age 5 and we told him the truth. He didn’t believe us. “No, really I am Santa.” I think he wasn’t quite ready to give up.

    Sex is important. The Man told The Boy all about it. Boyo thought it was gross. (For now.) LOL.

    Why do we lie?
    (Carly – I am so so so tremendously sad for your loss. Condolences to you and your family.)

  9. Great post! I think being truthful goes both ways too, and I’m working on trying to get my 3 year old to tell me the truth. I want him to be comfortable telling me when he’s done something wrong, without fearing that he’ll be punished. I’m trying to explain to him that it’s more important that he tell me what happened so that we can work on fixing the situation together.

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