“Yes there is no tooth fairy.”
I said these words to my son a couple of years ago as tears flowed down his cheeks. He had been to the dentist a few days before and unknown to us had hid the tooth under his pillow without telling mom and dad as a little test. Over the years, I had always had a “if he asks I will tell” policy about the tooth fairy and about Santa. The problem was that he so steadfastly believed me that there was in his mind no need to ask. After all, why would his parents ever mislead their own son?
Oh there were signs of the trauma to come. Just a few months earlier in the car a boy had asked Conner if he still believed in Santa. The response was, “Of course I do. My dad told me there is a Santa and that means it is true. End of story.” My heart just fell out of my chest in the front seat of the car.
The point my son made about the tooth fairy (and Santa) was sound and unarguable. I started with the line about traditions and about how my mother had told me about the tooth fairy and every parent does it. He responded by saying that was all in good but did not matter. The fact was that HIS dad had lied to him and he had never ever imagined that HIS dad would lie to him. How do you argue that? He was indeed telling the truth and I was indeed a liar.
A funny thing about lying, we all do it at times and for different reasons. I want to be truthful with my son about life and at the same time have an obligation as a parent to shield him from the world when appropriate. Somehow that day I think my credibility went down a notch and in a small way Conner learned that you really cannot completely trust anyone.
What is your take? Where do we draw the line as parents when it comes to lying, tradition and protection?
Are there absolutes or are there times when it is indeed okay to not tell the truth?
I would be interested in your thoughts.