Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tall Tales

For a person who makes up stories for a living, I'm pretty honest. In fact, if you ask me for the truth, I'll give it to you, even if it hurts. Which is why people hardly ever do! I've narrowed the reasons for my plain talk down to two:

1. I used up the majority of my life's component of BS lying to my parents during my teen years.
2. Once I had kids, I decided if I wanted to be a good mom, I should tell them the truth as much as possible.

Here's the exception. For years our kids thought we had a dragon in the attic. Our reasoning was that the attic isn't fully floored, so we didn't want them up there screwing around and possibly falling through. Lucky for us they were just deeply steeped enough in fantasy to think it was cool that we lived with dragon, and yet to respect the fact that they'd probably be cripsy curled if they ventured into its lair. Now, at the ages of 16 and 18, they're not even pissed that we misled them. In fact, the attic still holds an aura of mystique for them to this very day.

I know we're not the only parents to pull this kind of crap. I remember I once babysat for a little girl whose folks informed her that a crocodile lived down by the creek that edged their land, because they were afraid she'd wander off and manage to drown herself before they found her. (Uh, we live in Illinois, so the only crocs we ever see live in zoos.) Anyway, she never went exploring on her own, so I guess the story worked.

How about you? Did your parents ever spin you a yarn that later turned out to be a life saver? Or have you pulled one off on your kids? Can't wait to hear!


Nicole Peeler said...

As a child, my father told me that cats don't drink water. I believed him till I was like 14.

Zed-Aitch said...

The only tales we were told as children were the Santa and Easter Bunny ones. I'm quite sure the warning to "be good for goodness sake" saved me from a spanking or two ;-)

Jennifer Rardin said...

LMAO, Nicole!

Zed-Aitch, we never, and I mean never, told our kids Santa et. al. didn't exist. Because, in a way, they do through us. They still get presents from Santa and baskets from the Easter Bunny (although, of course, they know) and we all get a huge kick out of the whole deal.

-Kelly Meding said...

None of them were lifesavers, but my dad loved telling tall tales.

Once while we were driving through rural PA, my dad told me that the cows who live on hills have shorter front legs than back, so they can reach the grass easier on the incline. I believed him.

He used to drive us through the woods near my grandmother's house, a place called Burnt Swamp, and tell us that if we saw red eyes in the woods, they were witches looking for naughty children to eat.

What else? Oh yes, that anyone sitting on the passenger side of a car when we drove past a cemetery could be possessed by a ghost--needless to say, my sister and I sat in each other's laps a couple of times.

Is it any wonder I write what I write? :-D

Jennifer Rardin said...

Your dad is a gem! Yup, he was totally grooming you for the job!

Natalie said...

For us not to wander into the forest, my parents told us that "Jumbies" would get us. "Jumbies" can be translated to mean ghouls and zombies.

If I turn of the lights at my house and start yelling "JUMBIES!" my little sister will retreat into the daylight bawling! Suffice to say, it gets her to listen to us better. =/ I don't know what will happen when she finds out it's all lore.

KorynMarie- said...

Me and my sister were very picky eaters when we were younger (Im only 14 now) so my parents told us that all meat was chicken. They had to tell us the truth eventually cause when we drove by a field with a herd of cows in it my sister asked if those were the cows that made chicken....

Estella said...

My parents never told me stories to keep me from doing something. The same holds true with my children.

Darren Todd said...

At summer camp, the counselors told us that water chihuahua lived in the lilly pads and under the docks so that we wouldn't swim around either place (I understand the lilly pads, but I'm not sure the logic of the under the docks thing.
Of course, with my overactive imagination, I never swam without perpetual trepidation that I was just a little too close to the pads, and I climbed the dock ladder like a monkey for fear that one wayward toe underneath meant a bite.
I have no idea what a water chihuahua is or what they might look like, but since this was before "Yo quiero Taco Bell" it sounded pretty scary to me.

notanotherexit said...

We had a giant albino leech in our camp lake!

My parents was more for the morbid reality:

If you play in the street, you will get hit by a car and die.

If you dance on the table, you'll fall and break your face, and be hideous and socially ostracized the rest of your life.

If you stick your tongue on metal, it'll freeze there and you'll get stuck and die.

If you play with the vacuum, it will suck your lungs out and you will die.

If you play in the attic, you will fall through the floor and die.

I think I could have used a few more of those little stories, m'self. A dragon in the attic could have saved me a life long fear of attics and vacuum cleaners.

JD said...

Until I was 11, I was convinced my mum had 'magic eyes'. Being the last of seven, my mum knew that when a child was quiet, tey were generally up to no good so mum would tell us she could see us with her magic eyes and to stop being naughty. Then, of course, I would dob myself in and ask mum if she could see me with her magic eyes whenever I was doing anything wrong... Stupid.

As a general rule, I don't lie. I may not tell the whole truth, but I never tell an outright fib - my memory isn't good enough. The only lie I've told my nieces and nephews that clouds are made from fairy spit. It's just oo damn hard explaining the water cycle to a three-year-old.

Jennifer Rardin said...

Jumbies sound awesomely freakie, Natalie. They would definitely derail me!

KorynMarie, your sister sounds like a smart one, and pretty darn funny at that!

Darren, I am convinced the water chihuahua had fangs like a sabertooth tiger!

Okay, notanotherexit, giant albino leeches are quite off-putting. I would take a wide detour from anything they infested. On another note, my dad sounds a lot like your folks. Amazing the number of household items that will bash some portion of your bod and cause instantaneous death!

JD, I'm totally into the fairy spit idea. Going to try it on my nephews next time I see them. But I'll probably get the big eye roll and a, "Nuh-uh, Aunt Jennifer." Not given much to flights of fancy, those two.

Nicole Peeler said...

When I asked my dad why he put coffee grounds and eggshells in the garden, he told me they were worm food.

Kat said...

I was the one telling tales... when I was about ten we moved into a turn of the century house. I loved that place, and miss it to this day... Anyway, in the attic was a ladder nailed against the wall, up to a trapdoor. For some reason I became convinced that it was to another attic, where there was pirate treasure. I managed to convince my little sister of it. My parents told us that it was actually to the roof and never to go up there. I know I never did... but I stilll wonder...

Taylor-Marie said...

I've only got the main ones: Santa, Easter Bunny, what ever else.
Dad liked to joke with us..
On my way to school one time (The school is next to a cemetery) he looked out the window & said, so calmly: "You know what Taylor? People are just dying to get in there..."
-.- Sigh. My family are just weird.

Anonymous said...

My mother used to tell when I was 4 or 5 years old me that if I ate too much sugar I would turn into a "wild animal". I totally believed I was going to turn into a lion and I did not want that. Thus, when someone offered me a piece of candy one day, I politely turned it down and said,"I'm sorry, but if I eat that I'll turn into a wild animal."

A friend of mine has a sister that until age sixteen she thought that they put ice cream in water towers, because that's what her father told her when she was younger. Boy, was that sister PO'd when she found out it wasn't true.

Jennifer Rardin said...

Whaddaya know, Nicole? And here I thought worms ate raisins and licorice!

Excellent story, Kat. One of my secret desires has always been to find a pirate map--even more than discovering the treasure it's supposed to lead to!

Weird families are my fave, Taylor-Marie. Look at the Addamses! What's not to like there?

Hilarious stories, Anonymous!

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