When I was three, I was driving with my dad to go pick up pizza. I vividly remember this event. I looked out to the right side of the truck above the pines (where incidentally, I happen to be renting a house at right now.) It was dusk. I saw a huge swarm of little black things flying above the pines. I screamed, because I thought they were bats.
Promptly, my dad calmed me down. “Dawn, those are not bats. Those are the birds that come out at night.”
For a second I thought they were bats.
I was embarrassed when at twenty, I was sitting on the front porch with my old in-laws (I’m now divorced from my first husband) and I saw those birds. My old mother-in-law said, “OOOH, look at all those bats!”
I told her. “Oh Sue, those aren’t bats, those are the birds that come out at night.” All of my in-laws started laughing at me. That’s when it dawned on me that my dad had fibbed to me to get me to settle down. In my embarrassment, I told myself, I would never fib to my children.
Tonight, my son was taking his bath. Everything was calm. He had just started emptying the tub out, when he suddenly he was sad. Really sad.
He had lost one of his little toys down the drain. It was gone; there was no getting it out. I tried to be intelligent about it. I tried explaining that I was sorry that he lost his toy and we could replace it. That was met with more screams and cries. I tried being worldly, “Sometimes we lose things we love, it’s hard, it’s OK to be sad, but the screams hurt my ears.” That was met with more cries.
So, I got creative and I fibbed.
“Honey,” I explained, “Your toy is on a mission.” He glanced up at me and the screaming stopped for a second. “Your toy dove down the drain to find the toys that had gone down the drain at our last house and bring them home.” It appeared to be working, though the look he gave me was skeptical. “Don’t you want your other lost toys to come home to us? They didn’t know we moved.”
“Yeah!” he said, “I DO want those other toys to come home.”
“Alright,” I said, “Then will you please try to have a little faith in your toy. He’s going to save your old toys.”
He got skeptical for a second again, and then with total conviction, I firmly asked, “What?! You’ve never seen Toy Story?”
That was proof enough for him and he finally let the issue go.
Then, I remembered the birds that come out at night. Understanding fully why my father fibbed to me, after all these years of being annoyed about it, I finally let the issue go.