Smelly Socks: Lies I've told My Children

By Anita Spisak
April 4, 2013 at midnight
Updated April 3, 2013 at 11:04 p.m.

City Life

I have to admit, I've told a few "untruths" to my children, and I'm sure I'm not the first parent to do so. They are not told to hurt them. I don't do it often, and usually it's so that they learn a lesson. Kind of.

Here are just three of the fibs I've told.

"If you watch too much TV, your brain will turn to mush."

OK, I have to admit that I've used this one recently. And while it may not be true literally, it is true figuratively. It happened one day when the boys watched what I would guesstimate to be six hours of TV - not consecutively but cumulatively.

You see, I assist my husband a lot with his work, and there are times I need quiet in order to call clients. I can't be interrupted with "I'm hungry; I'm tired; I'm bored; etc," so it's easier to sit them down in front of the TV and have them watch while I get some much needed work done quietly.

I know it's wrong, and I honestly hate to do it, but that day it just had to be done. The weather was freezing cold outside, so going outside was out, and so many Legos had been built that there weren't many Legos bricks left.

When they finally turned off the TV, I told Adam that if he would've watched even a half hour more of TV his brain would have turned to mush. Of course, at first he didn't believe me, but I could see his "no way" was met with a bit of skepticism, and the television remained off for the rest of the evening.

That night as I was putting the boys to bed, he kept asking me more questions about watching TV and what really happens when you watch too much of it.

He turned and looked at me with concern in his eyes and asked "will my brain really turn into mush?" I saw the quivering lip, red cheeks and eyes filling with tears and had to turn away for fear of him seeing me laugh. His concern was very genuine and very cute.

I then told him that because he went to school that day he actually regenerated his brain for a few hours and therefore he wouldn't have to worry about a mushy brain. He hugged me and the joy returned to his eyes. Call it naivete or innocence; either way it made him realize that he and Charlie shouldn't be watching so much TV.

"If you eat more vegetables, the mosquitos won't bite you as much because they only like sweet blood."

OK, I know I said this one for a selfish reason. The boys, like most children, love sweets. As much as I try, I can barely force carrots on them much less any other vegetables. So last summer when the mosquitos were prevalent not only in Chicago, but also in northern Wisconsin as well, the boys were being bit up like mad.

We tried Calamine lotion and antimosquito sprays, but nothing seemed to work. So I came up with the lie that if they eat more vegetables, the mosquitos won't bother them as much, because they tend to prefer sweet blood. And for a while that summer they ate a lot more vegetables than they normally do.

Of course, when summer was over they started sliding back into old patterns with the sweets, but at least, for a short time, I had them eating a lot more vegetables.

"I have eyes in the back of my head, and they only come out when I need them to."

At first, Adam didn't believe me because the claim seemed so ludicrous. But when I told him I saw him playing on my phone while my back was turned, he couldn't believe it. (Never mind that I heard various beeps from the phone while he was playing.)

He asked to look through the back of my hair, so I let him, stating that those eyes only come out when I need them to. I think on this one he doesn't believe me but indulges me a bit. Still, he is surprised when I can tell him what he is doing while my back is turned and humors me with a, "Wow, you're good!" I know I won't get a lot of mileage out of this one as he gets older, but I figure I've still got a few years left to work on Charlie.

Sometimes, I feel bad about these "untruths." I do realize that they are lies I do indeed tell my children. I don't do it to hurt them, and I must admit that they are amusing sometimes, especially the reactions I get from the boys. Now, tell me an untruth you've told your child(ren)?

Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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