By Heather Jones of hmjoneswriter.com
Listen closely. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Kids don’t listen. If you have a child who happens to do everything they are supposed to do with no kickback—congrats, you’re raising some kind of magic unicorn leprechaun child. For the rest of us, getting kids to do as they are told is about as easy as teaching a cat to juggle.
These days, we have a lot of tools at our disposal. We take parenting seminars, read the books and the articles, learn the parenting philosophies, talk to the experts, and discuss with our parenting groups. But those of us who grew up in the 80s know that our parents took a different approach. They just lied to us.
Most of the lies were universal amongst parents. They were collective lies. If you checked the validity with your friends, they would confirm their parents had said the same. It was a large conspiracy, as uniform to 80s parents as Kool-Aid and Rice Krispie Squares. If you grew up in the 80s, I guarantee you were made to believe at least one of these absolute fabrications.
If you pick your nose and eat it, you will get worms in your stomach
Alright, picking your nose and eating it is gross, fair enough. I don’t really blame parents for making up this worm thing, because, well, who wants to watch a kid eat snot? The thing is, if a kid isn’t bothered by boogers in their mouth, they probably brush off worms too.
If you keep making that face, it will stay that way
What face? Doesn’t matter. If you don’t want to look like that forever, don’t make it. As kids, we were pretty sure this was false, but there was always that worry you’d head into the office in your 30s and hear, “What’s with the new guy?” “Oh, he made that face too many times when he was seven and it stayed that way.” Who was willing to chance it?
It’s illegal to turn on the light inside the car while driving
I believed this one until I was 35 and found out otherwise. Well-played, parents. Maybe they believed it too. Who knows? Maybe this one is less a lie and more a long-held erroneous belief, like waiting an hour after eating to swim. Or maybe my parents just wanted me to leave the damn light alone.
If you swallow apple seeds, a tree will grow in your belly
I remember watching in horror the first time I saw someone eat an apple core. What about the tree? Were they crazy? Obviously, this one isn’t true, and most kids figure that out pretty quickly, but what was the point of it in the first place? The booger one, the face one, I get it, but was there some sort of apple-seed-eating epidemic that necessitated this cautionary lie? Who cares if a kid eats an apple seed?
Eating the crust of your bread will make your hair curly
Okay, first of all, there is nothing special about the crusts of bread. They are just darker, not more nutritious. Like corner edge brownies. But if the goal is to not waste bread, or avoid the annoyance of cutting off the crust, fine, I get it. The problem is, though, it only works for straight-haired kids. Curly-haired kids usually hate having curly hair. I made Shirley Temple look like Cher circa 1965, and this lie just deterred me from eating crust that I otherwise didn’t really mind. Having my grandfather inform me that crust would not only make my locks curly but also put hair on my chest solidified for me that crust was the Devil.
If you sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind
Not true. You can sit as close as you want to and not hurt your eyes. But your big head will annoy the hell out of the rest of your family members. I’m pretty sure this lie started when Parent Zero got tired of saying, “Johnny! Move your damn head! I can’t see Ed Sullivan.”
Most of these lies seem to have been replaced by logical consequences and rational discussions. But you must admit that sometimes when all you want is for your kid to knock it off and eat their dinner, it’s tempting to pull a page from the 80s parenting book and just make something up.
This post was originally published on The Baby Post.
Heather Jones is a freelance writer in Toronto, and mother of two young boys. She is a regular contributor for Yummy Mummy Club and the Savvymom group of parenting websites. Heather has also been featured on the CBC, The Mighty, BluntMoms, The HerStories Project, and several other publications. Read more at hmjoneswriter.com and follow Heather on Facebook and Twitter.