Monday, October 09, 2006

Tall tales

I think most parents tell some tall tales to their children, generally in response to questions the kids ask that are too complicated for a proper answer. One that comes to mind is that I'd always ask where the moon went when it would go behind the clouds, and my mom would always answer that the moon had to go use the bathroom and was too shy to do it in front of everyone else. Made enough sense to me when I was 7 or 8! I also remember asking who painted the yellow and white lines on the roads. While my mom still disputes this one and says she never told me this, I have no idea why I'd make this up: I still contend that she told me that my aunt (mom's sister) was the one who came out at night and painted the lines on the road.

So, those examples are a little bit "out there," but still not too far-fetched as far as things to tell your kids. But after hearing the next story, you'll wonder how I'm as well-adjusted as I am and how I ended up avoiding the crazy house (at least so far).

When my younger sister and I (we're 18 months apart) were little, we fought quite often, as sisters tend to do. At one point, probably when I was around 8 or 9 years old, my mom (probably out of desperation after one of our spats) told us that she and my dad had had a child years before us, but that kid had been SO bad that they had taken her to an orphanage to live forever. Mom even told us her name: Yvonne. I'd heard the name Yvonne thrown around in the family--turns out, it's one of my pretty distant cousins on my dad's side, but I didn't realize that at the time. I'd heard the name mentioned before, so in my mind, it was possible that this person was real. So, any time we were bad, my mom would threaten to take us to the orphanage like she'd done with Yvonne. (It would always work temporarily, but it was never a long-term fix for our sisterly fighting.)

One time, we were driving to the next town over to visit one of my elementary school friends who'd just moved there, and there's an orphanage along the way (there really is; she didn't make that up). Mom pointed out that that's where she'd dropped off Yvonne, and my sister and I straightened up immediately (well, for the rest of the car trip, anyway).

I think after a while, I finally realized on my own that my mom had made that whole thing up, and there'd never been an older sister, and certainly not one she'd taken to an orphanage. Oh, but my poor sister! The story goes that YEARS later, she finally got up the nerve to ask my mom what had ever happened to Yvonne--if Mom had ever seen her again. I think she was pretty relieved to find out, after all that time, that the whole thing had been made up.

So, the lesson that I took away from that was: Be careful what you tell your kids. Though, I have to admit, I can't wait to tell them what the moon is doing when it goes behind the clouds!


At October 09, 2006 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never heard the moon story but I DEFINITELY knew about Yvonne. That name still makes me shudder! Your mom is so funny, she can deny and deny all she wants but she even told ME about your Aunt K painting the lines on the highway! That is the funniest!

My tall tales story is a little more horrific than most. My Aunt Georgia (who everyone calls Mother) has 13 children. Story goes that she had a 14th child and it was born with a birth defect, a SQUARE head. And she kept it in a bird cage in the attic, strapped in a straight jacket. Being the youngest child in my family I was subject to many many tales of the square headed baby including being woken up in the middle of the night to one of my cousins scratching on the wall saying, "Square headed baby's comin' to getcha!" Lord have mercy I was terrified to sleep in my cousin April's room because her door was right by the door to the attic and you had to cross it to get to her room. Talk about growing up tormented!

And yes, you will do the same thing, we all do. I always said no matter what I would tell my kids the truth but God help me sometimes things just don't warrant an explanation or I can't explain it in simple enough terms, so there have been quite a few yarns spun in this house. Sometimes the truth is boring, life needs some excitement.


At October 10, 2006 11:29 AM, Anonymous Nanci said...

Ha ha ha ha! Those are too funny. I too have heard the Aunt K painting the lines story!

We all tell our kids tall tales. I agree with Beth, sometimes that is the best way for that time and sometimes, the truth IS boring.


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