Lies My Parents Told Me That I Didn't Realize Until I Was Embarrassingly Old

Parents lie. As far as I understand it, lying's their primary function, right after sending decade-old email forwards, embarrassing you in front of your crushes, and multi-purpose nagging (as my mother would say, "Why else do you think 'mom' is spelled 'N-A-G'?!") When it comes to the ordinary stuff, like Santa Claus or your "permanent record," I was pretty good about seeing through them. But when it comes to the extraordinary lies, well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't figure out some of the following until I was in my early teens.


Hershey's wants you to brush your teeth. One night when I was three or so, before I could read, I was happily jamming Hershey's Kisses into my chocolate-stained mouth until I stopped to ask my dad what the little paper tag said. "Brush Your Teeth," he deadpanned, and I spent the next seven years obsessively checking the tags of Hershey's Kisses to find out what other hygienic advice they had to offer.

Meet the Tooth Fairy's more ostentatious sister -- The Peacock Feather Fairy. When I was six, I once threw a screaming tantrum because, during a family trip to the local occult bookstore, my sister chose a gorgeous peacock feather, while I'd been short-sighted enough to select a stupid piece of pyrite. All I knew was that I needed a peacock feather, and I needed it right away. (Apparently flamboyancy is a born, not an acquired, trait.) Conveniently, however, my parents told me to leave a note for the peacock feather fairy who, two days later, brought me my very own feather! Only to ignore repeated requests over the next five years. So much for my boa-making business...

Cable is only eight hours long. When I was a kid, we didn't have cable, for various reasons. What we did have, though, were two long-playing VHS tapes of cable-TV children's shows that my mother had recorded at my grandma's house. I was twelve before I realized that "cable" didn't begin with the last half of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids".

Car airbags are filled with popcorn. Why would they tell me this? WHY?!

What crazy parental lies stuck with you? Or, if you're a parent, what charming untruths are you passing on to your own kids?

Posted by TKOG from Not That Kind of Girl.

23 comments:

Alison said...

When I reproduce, I'm telling my kids about the Peacock Feather Fairy. Way more sanitary than the Tooth Fairy and less scary than the Easter Bunny.

My parents told me two major lies.

1. Jackolopes, those rabbits with antlers that decorate all the restaurants in northern Michigan, were real. When I was seventeen, I found out otherwise.
2. A person is born with a certain unknown number of words to speak. If you talk to much as a kid, you might end up being mute as an adult. I saw a little girl at the beach using ASL. I asked my mom what she was doing, and she told me that the little girl must have already used up all her words.(They were very committed to this lie.)I think trying to make your kid mute qualifies for the list of worst parental lies of all time.

magnolia said...

my folks were really good about the whole not telling me lies thing. my mom was way more interested in keeping the santa thing alive than i was. my daddy is an inveterate realist. that's rubbed off on me.

Lou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lou said...

If you play in the campfire (toss small sticks in, poke at the logs with a long stick, etc.), you will wet the bed.

Can't believe I ever fell for that one.

The Naked Redhead said...

My parents were pretty big on the whole realism thing, too, though my dad did like to joke about hot sauce "puttin' hair on yer chest."

We were not Rednecks, I swear.

Anonymous said...

My dad made up fake older siblings he would tell my brothers and I about. A girl and a boy. One lived in the 'attic' (we didn't have an attic, just some space in the ceiling with the insulation..), and the other ran away to join the circus. I caught on pretty quickly, but I've never really understood what compelled him to tell us that.

Pamster said...

These are really funny, funny but sad. I can't think of any right now, but will share for sure.

I have a feeling that they must have lied to me very early and I figured it out, because I always had a hard time believing them. Plus, I had the internet fairly early (at 9 or so?)

nikki said...

We live near DC, and you can see the Mormon Temple from the beltway. My mom told me it was Cinderella's castle away from Disney World. I later found out that TONS of parents in this area also told their kids the same thing. My mom told me and my sister, both fine limp-haired children, that eating carrots and wheat bread would make our hair curly.

I'm continuing the tradition. To my own four year old son, batteries break at a remarkably rapid pace, fast food restaurants always have broken grills and fryers, and Comcast took all the episodes of Bob the Builder off the air. In fact, any time he wants to watch something on TV I can't stand, I blame it on Comcast.

ellie said...

Best lie I ever heard I ended up using on a kid I was babysitting. This only works for the really young ones, but tell them that their tongue turns blue when they lie. THen when they lie they'll stick their tongues out and try to look at them, it's hilarious.

JenBetweenDots said...

Bahaha this was good for a laugh.
It wasn't my parents who lied to me, but my older sister. She once told me the burners on the stove with the blue centers (did anyone else have this old school stove? 2 red centers, 2 blue?) anyway, she told me the blue ones were for cooling things.
Needless to say I burnt my hand.

Em said...

My dad and his BFF used to tell me stories about how they were pirates back in the day. I grew up on the coast, and we spent many an hour walking along the shore trying to jog their memory as to where they hid their treasure, obviously to no avail. The best part is I forgot about this from around the age of eight until we went on a joint holiday with the friends family when I was about 13 and they tried to get us to go help them look for their booty. THAT is when I realised they were lying.
My parents have both told me fibs that have stuck with me over the years. The best one was that the ice cream van only plays its tune when its out of ice cream- Genius!

Victoria said...

My sister told me as a child, being someone who always fell asleep when traveling, that if you fell asleep in the window seat of an airplane, you'd wake up and vomit. As an adult, I still hate being sick and fear serious illness, so you can see how I would immediately give up my window seat to her so I wouldn't get sick. I believed it for years!

besswess said...

My parents were way too honest with me. Like imagine telling a five year old that if she plays alone in the front yard a man in a van would come by, kidnap her, rape her and then kill her. Yeah. I would have loved some lies.

Courtney said...

I don't remember too many lies my parents told me. My mom was too good at using real-life scare stories to her advantage (a little girl I went to school with who got stitches cause she didn't wear her helmet on her bike, etc). Since I'm the oldest of four, I told more lies than heard them. When I was little (around eight), my mom made me a quilt. I was so proud of my quilt and bragged about how soft it was, how warm it was, etc. My little sister, who was five, didn't have a quilt from my mom- my mom made her a little crocheted blanket. Eventually when my sister started to cry about how she wanted a quilt I realized that my bragging had backfired, and in an effort to get her to shut up and go to sleep I told her that her blanket was actually warmer (and therefore better) because air bubbles would get trapped in the spaces between the yarn, and keep her warmer. It worked, and she went to sleep. I never thought of it again until maybe two years ago, when my sister was fifteen. She was asking me about a crochet scarf we were looking at at the mall, and referred to how warm it would be because of the "air bubbles." It took me a few minutes to realize what the hell she was talking about, but when I did I couldn't stop laughing- and the worst part was that she didn't even believe me at first when I tried to tell her that I had just made that up.

My grandparents, however, were far worst. My dad was the middle child between two sisters, and his name is William. When my dad was very young, my grandparents told him that he actually had a twin brother named Wesley, but Wesley had been very very bad, so they had sent him to go live in the attic, and if my dad didn't behave/eat his vegetables/be nice to his sisters, etc, they were going to send HIM up to the attic and bring Wesley down to live with them. My dad believed this for YEARS, and my aunts and grandma will still occasionally threaten to trade him in for Wesley.

Laura said...

My grandpa told me that the reason he's bald is because as men start getting old, their hair grows inward into their head and comes out of their nose and ears. It made total sense to me, I believed this for YEARS.

Allyson said...

My dad sneezes when he walks into bright sunlight. He told us that he was allergic to sunshine, and my sister and I believed him for years.

The Asian Pear said...

When I was 4, I asked my parents for a puppy. Mom said I was DEATHLY allergic. It wasn't til I was 18 that I wasn't allergic at all. When I questioned Mom, she only said, "You're not allergic! Who said you were allergic?" Turns out she just didn't want us to have a dog in the house.

Luinae said...

I believed in Father Christmas until I was 13...........oh brother.

Joe said...

I did an endo on a bike & split my chin open needing stitches when I was five. Fortunately for me that night I was, as mom predicted, visited by the stitch fairy and got $5.

That weekend we were at a family party and people would ask me about the big bandage on my chin and I would breathlessly recount, "I went over the handlebars on my bike and split my chin open BUT I GOT FIVE DOLLARS FROM THE STITCH FAIRY!"

I now understand why these adults were laughing so hard when I told them that. At the time it was making me really mad to the point that my mom finally pulled me aside to tell me that there was no stitch fairy, she had given me the money. That episode pretty well destroyed my belief in magical fairies, bunnies & Santa, but I played along because I didn't want to ruin a good thing.

Maureen said...

My sister is six years older than me and she once told me that when she was little, they had dinosaurs, but "now dinosaurs are extinct". Like as in, they had gone extinct in the six years between her birth and mine. So anyway one day there was a bone in the yard... not really sure what it was from, but she told me that it was a dinosaur bone. And (this is true) I took it to school for show and tell in kindergarten. I was all, "This is a dinosaur bone I found in our yard. It is leftover from before dinosaurs went extinct, back when my big sister was a little kid."

jess said...

The best ones I ever heard were from my ex boyfriend's father -

1. Testicles are for balance *favorite*

2. Waves in the ocean are caused by sharks, around so you better not swim too far from the beach

perfumeorpoison said...

they told me that if i drank coffee i would grow a tail, and if if i drank or ate.. hmm something else (just as bad!!), cant remember now.. that my eyelashes would fall off.
how bizarre is that??

Kate said...

When in Canada, my dad said McDonalds' chicken nuggets were made from buzzards. Buzzard nuggets. I was 12. I've been a strict vegetarian for 9 years.

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