I was thinking the other day about those little lies that you get told as a child to determine behaviour and / or have a little bit of peace. The cat was sitting on my lap demanding affection. I had been the one to feed her that evening.
The lies I was told are as follows:
Whoever feeds the cat, will earn the most love.
This one, may or may not contain some element of truth. I don’t think any scientists have studied it yet. But I can’t say that as an adult I notice any noticeable extra love dished out to the adults in the family because they feed the cat. I think this lie came from parental laziness.
If you stand on your head for long enough, your head will flatten and you will get better at headstands.
This was a lie told to me by my grandma. I believed this for many, many years and shortly after she told me this, I spent an inordinate amount of time on my head in an effort to perfect the skill of hand-standing. I do not know her motive for telling me this lie. Perhaps she thought it would keep me quiet for a few hours. If so, it worked.
The shape of your earlobes determines whether you are able to have earrings or not.
This lie was also told by my grandma. The motive is clear. I believed her until I was finally dragged by my best friend to get my ears pierced at the age of 18. The irony of this lie is that I wasn’t actually particularly keen to get my ears pierced. I wasn’t a girly girl.
‘Your tea is really delicious’.
This wasn’t a parental lie, but a lie told to me by my elder siblings. I believed this lie for many years and happily made all the hot drinks in the house until I left home. They didn’t confess their atrocious untruth telling until I was in my thirties.
‘You need more sleep than other children’
I’m sure that when my mum reads this she will object to its inclusion in this list, and insist that I did / do need more sleep than other people. But there is a nagging doubt with this one. I was sent to bed after Crossroads for many years, and then that progressed to after Coronation Street and later Brookside. My school friends were allowed to stay up to watch the likes of The Young Ones, That’s Life and Not The Nine O’clock News which to me seemed mysterious and terribly rude, and very glamorous. For years I pretended to my friends that I watched The Young Ones. I didn’t.
If you stay awake on Christmas Eve night, Father Christmas won’t bring you any presents
This is probably a universal parental lie. I remember one year, aged about 9, I had a really bad cold at Christmas. I got into quite a panic about not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve. I did sleep. I subsequently received presents. I firmly believed the two were related.
If you wear high-heeled shoes your feet will be ruined in your adult life
This was another gem from my grandma and I think there is an element of truth in this although I’m not sure this is universal (otherwise most elderly ladies would have bad feet). She had a lot of problems with her feet and used to keep sheep’s wool around her big toes. As a child I certainly didn’t want to suffer as she did with her feet. As a result, I’m wearing Dr Martens at the age of 43.
I would like to know what parental lies other people have been told. If I find out any, I will add them below.
And here are some ‘lies’ told to friends:
Friend One’s first lie: ‘If the wind changes your face will stick like that’. This is a classic. I think most children were told this at some point. I’m not sure that many believed it.
Friend One’s second lie: ‘If you don’t eat your crusts your hair won’t curl’ Another classic. I always wanted curly hair and I ate all my crusts and it never happened so I quickly learnt that this was a complete fib.
Friend Two’s first lie: ‘My boyfriend’s little brother when he was about 12 asked me why I took a pill everyday (referring to my contraceptives) and I told him it was to stop me from growing a beard and that was why women weren’t hairy. I told him all women do this so he asked his older sister if she took a pill everyday also and she said yes!’
Friend Two’s second lie: ‘My mum used to tell me that if I didn’t go to sleep at night the bogey man would get me. I believed he lived in the loft and was too scared to go to the toilet in the night in case he got me. She also used to tell me this to get me to nap in an afternoon.’
Friend Two again: ‘My boyfriend says his mum used to tell him when the ice cream van played music it was because they ran out of ice cream.’ I’ve used this one on my three children. They didn’t believe it at all.
Friend Three’s lie: ‘My partner’s mum would tell him if he told a lie his tongue would turn purple, so if he was fibbing he wouldn’t open his mouth so she knew he was fibbing! We now say the same to our little boy’.
Friend Four’s lie: ‘I spoke to the tooth fairy on the phone when I lost (actually lost) a tooth and was very upset about it. It was YEARS later before mum confessed the beautiful fairy voice belonged to her, speaking from the upstairs phone.’ This is a lovely ‘lie’. I do worry about what my children will say when they inevitably find out that the likes of Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy are not real people who come into the house at night to leave things.