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White Lies

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Is it really so wrong that my three-year old son thinks his antibiotic medicine is peanut butter-flavored? That I, his mother whose duty includes teaching him right from wrong, has informed him of this, even though the medicine is actually that orange-flavored thick-coated stuff?


So I’ve lied. But it’s a white lie so it can’t possibly be so bad. Right?


Twice daily for ten long days, as prescribed, I’m not having to force medicine into a clamped mouth while jousting the flailing appendages of a determined preschooler. My request is being met with “oooh, I like the peanut butter kind!” and a little mouth agape like a baby bird!


Before I do penance, I must confess that I’ve told my children, those same headstrong and impressionable young offspring of mine, white lies on more than a few occasions.


I’ve actually lied a lot.


White lies have informed the kids that the ice cream parlor is suddenly “closed” when proven inconvenient and that the computer “isn’t working” five minutes before bath.


Remember your Mom telling you if you eat spinach you’ll be as strong as Popeye? I just happen to stick in “tomorrow” for added enticement.


This week my first grader shared with her teacher how “Leo is our second Beta fish. Our first one missed his friends at Petco so Mommy returned him while I was at preschool.” Her teacher’s knowing glance was met with my impish shrug.


I didn’t have it in me to share with my little girl then that her fish died (Mom’s a fish killer!). But since then we’ve grieved over the loss of our beloved old cat, shared concern about Grandpa’s declining health, packed food for the hungry, and donated nearly new items to the needy.


My little white lies add convenience to small matters. And only small matters. Life’s harder truths are addressed openly and yes, honestly.


So, is it so wrong to lie that medicine may be peanut butter-flavored? That dinner is usually almost ready? That “we’re almost there!” at our destination when we’re actually not? I need a reprieve once in a while from the truth and frankly my Santa believing, tooth fairy anticipating kids do, too.

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