My parents, like most, I’m assuming (God, please don’t let it just be mine), absolutely loved messing with my head while I was growing up (in the nicest, most let’s-make-parenting-a-little-more-fun way possible, of course). Considering that they still like to mess with me, this list of “sure-fired ways to lie to/confuse your children” could conceivably grow. But, for now:
1) My parents speak in abbrevs.
No, they don’t LOL, say OMG, or even WTF (although I’m trying to get that one to catch on). They abbreviate, well, anything. It started when my brother and I were little, to keep us from understanding what they were saying. They’d ask each other, “So, are we going to let them watch DQMW with us tonight?” (We always watched Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman as a family – you know, before Jane Seymour was “Kitty Kat.”) So I grew up thinking everyone did that – everyone spoke in abbreviations. Why say the whole name of a TV show, movie, book, friend, place you were going, ANYTHING, when you could just use a couple letters?
My friends? Not amused.
My parents still speak like that. “Sorry, honey. Can’t talk now. GA’s on.” Old habits die hard.
2) They make up words (or change the meaning).
Has anyone ever called you a pita? Probably not (unless it was me). Until high school, I thought that when my parents called me a pita, it was just some word in another language that I didn’t completely understand. I got the gist – they only used it when I was irritating them. When I was being a pain. Or, more specifically, a pain in the ass.
Oh. My. God.
I felt like an idiot for not understanding sooner. And then proceeded to use the word constantly – so useful.
3) It’s not just words – they change whole phrases!
I’ve mentioned “one swell foop,” but what about “61 and a half-dozen others”? Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t know that one? How about the real one: “six of one, a half-dozen of the other”? It makes a little more sense that way when you’re comparing things, no? However, due to parental programming, I still have to think through both responses in my head before speaking. Because when a visiting friend asks, “Well, should I take Route X or Route Y?” and I respond, “Oh, you know, 61 and a half-dozen others,” I just get blank stares.
4) They lie to protect their own secrets.
As a kid, I used to snore. I was self-conscious about it, especially considering my friends would make fun of me after a sleepover. So I asked my mom if she snored. “No, honey, girls don’t snore.” What?! Girls don’t snore? What the hell was wrong with me? My brother’s snoring could wake the dead; I prayed to God I didn’t sound like that. And then, one morning, I walked into my mom’s room and heard her snoring! I distinctly remember shaking her awake: “You were snoring! You told me that girls don’t snore!” She opened her eyes and looked at me: “Oh, yeah. I guess I lied to you.”
5) They pretend to be in cahoots with the Easter Bunny (and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy).
Growing up, we spent every Easter at our grandparents’ house, where my brother and I shared a room and plotted as to how to stay up and catch the Easter Bunny in action. Our parents warned us that if we were awake, the Easter Bunny wouldn’t come (same rule applied for Santa Claus – I think it’s pretty universal). We tried every year; fell asleep every year; and, ultimately, there were Easter baskets waiting for us, every year. Except when there weren’t. Except the one morning when we rushed out of our room and there were no baskets, no hidden eggs, no hint that it was anything other than a normal Sunday.
After traipsing upstairs to proclaim this injustice to Mom and Dad, we found our Easter baskets sitting at the foot of their bed! “I guess you two just stayed up so late that the Easter Bunny delivered them here, instead.” I now realize that’s parent-code for: “I was too lazy to bring these downstairs and I knew I could make up something you’d believe.” Well played. I’m taking notes.
On the plus side, some of these tricks have already proven very useful in babysitting. However, the word-based trickery still gets me. But I’m working on it, one step at a time. I know it won’t all happen in one swell foop.