Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Years ago when M was in his younger, wilder years he used to take an annual vacation to the beach with his friends. They would rent a beach house and it would be a mix of couples and singles. Pity the first child born into a situation like that. On the one hand they get a lot of attention, on the other hand it's from youthful adult knuckleheads.

M used to ride down with his friend Buck in Buck's big truck. One particular year the child, Shane, wanted to ride with M and Buck. Shane was probably 4 or 5 at the time. He was in a very inquisitive and talkative stage. Very talkative. And if you know a kid this age you'll know that they have no problem asking the same question twenty times.

As Buck, M and Shane were driving down the road Shane was asking questions about the passing scenery. He'd point to agricultural field and point to the current crop and ask "What's that?" M would answer..."tobacco" "peanuts" "soy beans" "corn" etc. After a long time at this, with M often repeating the same crops (which kind of showed that Shane wasn't learning much) M decided to have some fun and told Shane that he was seeing peanutcorn. "What's peanutcorn?" M explained that peanutcorn was corn on top of the soil and peanuts underground. Well, you learn something new every day.

Years later the same group, with a few additions and subtractions, was headed to the beach again. This time Shane opted to ride with a family that had a girl near his age. Those two always played together so well. M was riding down with Buck as usual. They got to a rest stop near the VA/NC border and M hopped out to have a smoke. Shane hopped out of his friend's vehicle and walked over to M and punched him in the stomach, yelling, "There's no such thing as peanutcorn!"

Poor Shane had been sharing his expertise on the local agrarian practices and had finally learned that M had lied to him all those years ago. He was mad, and rightfully so. M learned his lesson about how kids trust adults not to steer them wrong. He also learned that teasing kids for his own amusement could have consequences which didn't make him feel so swell. While the whole thing was still pretty funny, it undermined Shane's trust in an adult he really liked and looked up to.

Consequently in this house we try not to spin tales with Emma. I'm not saying we never lie to her, but it's usually about mundane things, like being out of ice cream, or something with no serious consequences. She has plenty of books to entertain her with fanciful tales. We're trying to stick to the facts and maintain her trust in us over the long term.

P. S. Yes, we lie to her about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, but those are culturally encoded lies that don't count. It's a conspiracy and we're merely a part of it.