Friday Free-For-All – Chicken and Chicken… Hey That’s Funny!

Telling fibs is naughty – we tell our kids that everyday, and yet sometimes as a parent we lie to our kids without batting so much as an eyelid – you know the ones, like don’t make that funny face if the wind changes it will stay like that! Othertimes we know that we probably should tell our kids some version of the truth but we have to decide what is age appropriate.

This got me thinking about some of the things we tell our kids. I have heaps of examples I could use about small fibs I have told my kids, but I am going to stick with two of my favourites and not suprisingly they both involve Daughter.

Story 1: The Fairies In The Dining Room

Daughter is a phenomenally bad eater, that doesn’t mean she eats bad food it is just that she doesn’t eat much of anything. For most of her life we have had to bribe every mouthful of dinner off the plate and into her mouth. One night as we are sitting at the dining table, the light from the new downlights we had just installed reflected off my husbands cutlery and low and behold there a small dancing lights on the ceiling.

Daughter is mesmerized. Hubby and I don’t think, the fibs just burst forth of their own accord – The lights are fairies, they only come when you are eating your dinner. Sure enough she stops eating and the lights miraculously disappear, she puts food in her mouth and they are back. Amazing! And OMG she is eating! The fairies became a regular occurance at the dinner table.

Then one day, not long after she turned 4, Daughter turned to me and said Mum, the fairies aren’t real are they? Just like the monsters and witches, the fairies aren’t real either. *Sigh* Daughter had been having nightmares, we had told her witches weren’t real and she had decided the rest by herself. So what do I say? No sweetheart, fairies aren’t real. I go on to explain how Daddy made the lights appear (she now loves doing this herself).

I nod to myself, satisfied that I am a great parent – then it hits me. Crap! What about the tooth fairy? So far she seems to be okay with the concept that the only fairy that really exists is the tooth fairy – I will keep you updated.

Story 2: Chicken and Chicken

My daughter has a fasination with words. She is almost 5 and has just started learning to read. She loves books and has already started correcting her little brother’s grammar.

A few weeks ago we were at the shops, we had just finished a big grocery shop and had headed over to the butcher to buy some meat. She listens to my order (I am buying chicken wings for the dog) then she laughs. I turn to face her. And she says this “Chicken sounds the same as chicken – that’s funny.” “What do you mean sweetie?” “You know the chicken on the farm and the chicken we buy at the shops, the words sound the same.”

Oh dear. This is a conversation that I am not ready to have. Now maybe this one does make me a bad parent but I don’t think my daughter is ready for a knowledge that the animals that we sing about in McDonalds farm are the same animals we are eating for dinner. So I laugh with her and say “Yes, you’re right, that is funny.” This is a fib that I know I can’t maintain indefinately – at some point I will need to tell her the truth, and I will, eventually.

What about you. Have you told small fibs to your children? Did your parents lie to you? Were you scarred for life as a result? Love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

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12 responses to “Friday Free-For-All – Chicken and Chicken… Hey That’s Funny!

  1. “If you don’t eat your bread crust, you’ll never learn to whistle.” In retrospect, I wish she’d said it about something with fewer carbs and calories.

    • My Mum always told me that eating bread crusts would give me curly hair. It kinda backfired, since all I ever wanted for straight hair… I’ve never heard the whistling version before.

      • My aunt ad libbed the whistling version one day at lunch when I wanted to leave the bread crusts on my plate. She knew I’d been trying to whistle and so decided to help out. And it worked.

  2. My older brother used to tell me if I swallow seeds, it would stay in my stomach and will grow into a tree and the branches would come out of my mouth. That’s why I never used to eat tomato seeds or any seeds for that matter.

  3. My son is well aware that the meat we eat comes from animals, even though he’s only 4. (I remember being 4 and knowing that our “pet” chickens in the back yard would one day be dinner, and it didn’t mess me up.) He learned this through “reading” books about dinosaurs. Some dinosaurs eat meat, and some eat “green food”. So, what’s meat? Other dinosaurs of course. He quickly figured out that the meat we eat for dinner *isn’t* dinosaurs, but *is* animals.

    I do my utmost never to ever lie to him, although obviously I tone down the truth to his age level. (eg. babies just come from Mummy’s tummy at the moment.) I remember with absolute clarity the first two times I learned my Mum lied to me:

    1) She used to tell me that she was 21. Every birthday. When I was 7, I worked out that this meant I would have been born when she was 14, which is clearly (ahem) impossible. I asked her point-blank, and she uhmmed and ahhed and finally told me she wasn’t 21, but didn’t tell me her real age.

    2) When I learned that Santa wasn’t real, I felt absolutely betrayed because my parents had spent years lying to me.

    I love your fairies story, though. Awesomely good fun. I’d tell my son that if he ate his dinner, I’d make pretend fairies on the ceiling for him, and will keep it in mind for if “eating gives you energy for playing” turns out not to work anymore.

    ** Note: This isn’t a critique of your story-telling as a parent. I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with it. I’m just a bit screwed-up in the head. 🙂

  4. Daughter asked not that long ago how the baby gets out – i told her the truth in a round-about kind of way. Not looking forward to the question about how the baby gets in there. Daughter also knows about the dinosaurs eating meat (and other animals for that matter – family friend showed her photos a few weeks ago of a lion eating a zebra she was a bit horrified at first) but she hasn’t made the connection to her own dinner yet (she eats so little meat I am scared to upset the balance)

  5. Well… we can’t do the chicken thing because we raise and slaughter our own 😀 like in the backyard, by ourselves. It’s really a great biology lesson when the eviscerating starts. We’ve gotten into the habit of thanking our chickens at the time of death for giving us their lives so we can improve our own (which really freaks out our vegan/vegetarian friends). BUT they are mindful of the sacrifice that is made on our behalf and it’s easier to get them to eat the meat w/o waste when they understand that. My kids are 9,8,6,4 and 2.5 and yes the 4yo knows what goes on. Its hard to lie even a little bit when faced with that reality.

    Though we do *fib* about other things like if I have a mouthful of cookie and I don’t want to share, I’ll tell them I’m eating a carrot. Yes, I’m a terrible sharer. Or if we’re at the store and they want something I tell them I’m broke (which isn’t always a lie!) or that it has to be on clearance before I’ll buy it (when I have no inkling of ever buying it). We’re pretty honest about the reproductive system, they know about the whole thing mainly because our rooster likes to ahem…*sit* on the hens and doesn’t care who watches.

    • haha my daughter’s first question when she sees something she wants at the shops is ‘Mum is it on special?’. She is getting to clever though she has worked out what the ‘marked-down’ labels look like at the grocery store! I find my daughter’s thing with the chickens funny as she watched my Dad gut and cut up fish and knows that we eat them!

  6. Ok – so I have two things to say about this post.
    The first is, I decided to tell son when he was nearly three that the chicken nuggets he was eating were made from real chickens. So now he tells me that chickens come from chicken nuggets.
    The second is, my mother used the fibbing technique on me as I child. I claimed I didn’t like pepper as a child, so my darling mother (whom I love dearly)), told me that the black specs on the roast chicken she cooked, were dirt. Somehow, in my infinite wisdom, I found this to be acceptable and would happily eat the chicken. Although I never really did like the skin with the black bits on it!!!
    Another thoroughly enjoyable post Jody.

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