Do you remember when you were young and had no sense? Can you pinpoint when that changed – when you began to take life ‘seriously’? Or are you still a kid at heart?
I think I fall into the latter category, judging by how hilarious I found the debacle in the city centre on Monday evening. For those of you who missed out on the craic (or the ‘appalling scene’, according to some people whom I later overheard), a guy did a streak through City Square wearing nothing but a cheeky grin, to the utter bemusement and amusement of Christmas shoppers. He came out into Arundel Square with about four gardai chasing him and while he was trying to run away, he was putting on his ‘underpants’ at the same time.
There he was running away from the gardai while trying to pull on a little pair of frilly Santa knickers and leading the chase was a Beangarda who clearly did not want to be the one to catch him. Oh the mirth – in a week that the rain has not stopped and the depressing Budget looms ever closer, I really needed a laugh like that.
The only reservation I had about the event was what I would have told my little boy, had he been with me. No doubt I’d have made up some fantastic story about the man forgetting to put his warm clothes on before he left the house and he was now being chased by Jack Frost – the moral of the story being that you must always remember to wear your hat, scarf and gloves going out in the cold.
You see, I fib to my two-year-old constantly, as I try to make sense of the world we live in for him. I make no excuses for it and I know I’m not the only one. I recently read about a study conducted at the University of California which suggests that most parents lie to their children almost as a matter of routine. Just last weekend, I told my little boy that the bird sitting on the roof of the shed was Santa’s messenger and if he spotted any misbehaving he’d fly straight to the North Pole and inform the big bearded man himself.
However this study reckons that such fibs could cause serious harm, weakening trust between children and adults. More than 80 per cent of parents involved in the study admitted that they lied to their kids at some point, even those who insisted to their children that it was never OK to lie. And the danger, apparently, is that children receive mixed messages at a time when they were learning how to function in the social world. In the name of God, what will they come up with next?
The findings go on to suggest that, in lying to our children, we’re teaching them to tell fibs and deceive too. Yet somehow I reckon that, by the time he’s a teenager, my wee man will be more than adept at pulling the wool over my eyes without any influence from me.
There’s also the fear that you’re putting the parent-child bond at risk: telling children that lying is the worst thing they can do and then running the risk of them discovering that you, yourself, are a regular fibber. And yet my world did not fall down around my ears when I realised that my grandmother had been pulling a fast one by warning me that any chewing gum I swallowed would form a great big ball in my stomach that might eventually explode.
As far as I’m concerned, you can try all the reasoning and logical debating you like with a two-year-old over, say, why they must go to bed at a certain time. But there’s nothing like a fantastic yarn about Santa’s elves peeping down the chimney to make him bomb it up the stairs. And if that fails, bribery continues to be a great success in our house.
I lie to protect my little boy – and I also lie to make life run a little more smoothly than it otherwise would. So I make no excuses for the fact that, in his world, hurting the doggie will make her big brother the dragon come after him, if he doesn’t have his teeth cleaned properly they’ll all fall out and then he won’t be able to eat treats and that picking his nose will make his finger turn green. And if I’m scarring him for life with such castles in the sky…well, it’s a risk I’ll just have to take.