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Exerpt from “Rules of Motherhood – Laid Bare with Tall Tales”

This is an exerpt from one of my current works in progress.     Some of the tales are based on truth, and others are fictional.    This is raw first  draft so it is not perfect.  Happy reading.

Telling Porkie Pies is Bad

I am well aware that telling lies is NOT a good thing.  My mother successfully dedicated her child rearing days to instilling this perfectly logical rule of the land into me.  It succeeded in making me very self conscious if I need to tell a lie, and subconsciously I always choose to tell the truth ‘wherever possible’.

There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule.  There are always exceptions to everything we seem to do as parents, and lying is one of the big issues to affect the human race. 

One of the terms often thrown in our faces is that lying is always the sign of a low class birth.  That is true, isn’t it?  My Primary 5 teacher said so, and adults never lie, do they?  I never believed it myself, although I wouldn’t have dared to tell her that as she might have stopped liking me. 

Looking at the lying and class barrier from the point of view of the precocious 9 year old that I was, there always seemed to be an area of snobbery involved in it.  As a working class child, brought up by a borderline middle class mother who had slipped back into working class with the divorce of my parents, I struggled to understand how this could possibly affect my future life to any great degree.

As an adult, I am more aware of the divisions of class, and how they are structured in life.  What I didn’t realise as a child was that there were divisions of class within each class. 

As a child, the world around me was simple and worked easily.  I lived in an area of the city that had us singled out as poor, nasty, common, lower class, or generally undesirable. Did I care about any of that?  Not one jot.  I had a hard working mother, who provided food and clothing, and caring grandparents allowed me to live a life totally unaware of the constraints of the class system. 

My biggest fears all centred around going to secondary school, where we were all told horror stories about how our heads would be flushed down the loo by the seniors, who would take pictures and post them up on the noticeboards.

I remember my first day at secondary school, shivering and shaking in fear at the thought we might be pulled out of the playground, or grabbbed on the way home to be dunked in the loos.  None of us dared use the toilet in the school, and there were many pained expressions on those first days as we tried to cross our legs in lessons to stop the need to go to the loo. 

You probably all know that if you are trying not to focus on something, then that is what you end up obsessing about. 

Picture six classes of first year secondary pupils.  None of them having anything to drink on school mornings, no drinks at break time or in the lunch halls.  Was it any wonder that when any of us were asked a question by the teacher, no-one had any spittle to be able to speak clearly, and we were constantly being asked to “speak up child,” or something along the lines of “Smith, has the cat got your tongue.”

Some of those first years may have had their heads dunked into the toilet bowl, but I never heard of anyone who actually had it done to them.  It was a lie / myth that tortured the new first year students at school every year.  The older children didn’t do anything to dispel the myth and lied by omission, and it was seen as a great sign of hilarity to watch the toilet abstaining strained faces of the younger ones when they appeared at school. 

The class division of the powerful brigade versus the fearful begins early.

Following on from my wonderfuly successful experiences in telling the truth, I decided that as a parent, it was my duty to share the wonderful teaching and learning from my mother to my cherubs.

The story evolves, and my version centres around telling my children that they need to tell me the truth at ALL times, even if they have lied to someone else about the same thing.  I even tell them that if they tell me the truth, that they will never be punished as badly as if they tell me a lie, and I find out that it is a lie. 

I even actually reward them for telling me the truth, even if they have done something wrong.  The influence of the good behaviour brigade is immense, and sways parents opinions under the pseudonym of madness in another guise.  This madness has been forced upon us by the powerful brigade, because it bears no actual relation to real life.

Lets look at this from the outside, and putting this into the realms of silliness.  Imagine that Mrs Average Mum hears screaming coming from the kitchen, and decides to investigate, hot footing it from the lounge, and tripping over a dozen strategically placed toys on the way through.  The fall always seems to happen in slow motion. 

Imagine yourself in her place, you can see the fall comiing, and you know what is about to happen, but there is nothing you can do to stop it.  On the way down, you bang your funnybone on the doorframe and stifle the f word forming on your lips.  (I have another story to tell about a funnybone, but that is for a whole other chapter.)  You quickly look round to make sure that no-one has seen you take the tumble, and you take a deep breath as the pain shoots up your arm. 

As you pull yourself up and run towards the now urgent screaming, you turn the corner in time to see one child whack the other on the head with a drumstick out of the corner of your eye.  By the time you reach round the corner fully, the attacking child has spotted you, and grasps his head and pretends to be hurt, while the really hurt child leaps for his attacker and gives a whacking punch in response. 

Almost at the point of fever pitch, you don’t know where to start.  Do you round on the attacker, check out the victim of the attack, or nurse your throbbing elblow?  In most cases, at this point, mums could be on the verge of a mumtrum (mummy tantrum). 

If you are blessed with huge reserves of patience, or have been brainwashed by the powerful brigade, you will take a huge deep breath, and separate the warring factions who have merged into one ball of hair, arms and legs, into two separate beings.

The next step depends on where you want to be as a mum. 

1 – You could ask them what happened, in which case, you may never get to the truth as you see it.
2 – You could ask the first attacker why they bopped their brother over the head with a drumstick.
3 – You could just ground them both and listen to no-one. 
4 – You could just walk away and forget anything happened in the first place.
5 – You could do something else that the rest of us don’t know about yet.

Most mums take the stand of trying to find out what happened.  That leaves us wide open to all sorts of lies and tall tales about what actually happened. 

“Why did you do this?”  “Why did you do that?” I often hear myself whine.

I don’t know if you are all the same as me, but it rarely gets to the truth of anything.  I find myself far too often saying the words indoctrinated into me. 

“I don’t care why you were arguing, but hitting with a weapon is not right.  If you tell me the truth, I won’t ground you as much as if you lie about it, and we’ll still go to the park this afternoon.  If you lie to me, we’ll stay here all afternooon.”  

The index of my right finger is usually pointed towards the wayward children, and waving up and down at this point, with my other hand perched firmly on my hip in high dudgeon style as if I were about to launch into a rendition of “I’m a little teapot…….”   

This is a very bad move.  Now I have tried to bribe my son into telling me the truth and if he doesn’t, I have to carry it out.  And the worst part of it all is that I don’t really care who started it, I just want them to apologise to each other, and for us to get on with the day.

In the end, we could even pretend they are such good boys for telling the truth, and say “what good boys you are,” before patting them on the head and giving them both a lollipop.

After saying all of this, I have a huge confession to make.  Like most mums, I lie a lot.  Why oh why do I tell so many whopping great fibs?  You know the things that we tend to fib about the most…..

  1. You’re at a friends and she asks if your coffee is ok, while you choke on the unfiltered coffee grounds and nod while the tears stream down your face.
  2. You’re eating a meal and the waiter asks if everyting is ok with your meal, and again you blindly nod while forcing down a plate of overcooked and dried up pasta.
  3. Your mother asks if she looks like she is getting older, and you pretend you don’t see the fifty extra lines around her eyes that have appeared since her last birthday.
  4. Your husband asks if you want to make love tonight, while you lie still and try to mimic the breathing pattern of sleeping beauty.
  5. Your boss asks you if you remembered to post that letter yesterday, and you make a run for it with the letter in hand as soon as the clock strikes 5, so that you can make the last post pick up at the main sorting office in town.

The list is endless.  We all do it.  We think it’s part of a little while lie that is perfectly acceptable to tell in order to not hurt other peoples feelings, and we waggle our fingers at our children to get them to understand that a lie is not good, and the truth is always good.

Some occasions my children have told what they see as the truth, I have been shamed on the spot and wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. 

On one occasion, my perfectly eloquent 3 year old walked straight up to a rather large lady.  Mr Eloquent was going to get an answer directly, and asked her outright how much food she eats to get so fat. 

Unfortunately Mrs Large Lady does not see the funny side of a 3 year old asking what she eats, and directs some comments about how badly brought up a child he must be. 

 I find it funny for a grown woman to believe that a 3 year old could make such grown up judgements, and the situation descends into chaos……