Top 5 Lies Adults Tell Kids

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With the recent boom of top 5 lists on this site, I figured I’d be a carpetbagger and hop on the ol’ bandwagon.

Adults lie to kids. All the time. Ask an adult, next time you see one, if they have lied to a child that day. They will say no. They are lying.

These are not the greatest lies out there. Grown ups spin ridiculous yarns daily to tell their kids, like the Tooth Fairy or Social Security Benifits. These may not be the biggest whoppers, but they are my personal favorites.

5) CURSIVE IS IMPORTANT

Oregon loves cursive too!

3rd grade. Mrs. Comer’s class. It was a cursive test, my first. I’d been pouring over glossy bound practice cursive books with cartoons of cursive letters dressed as cowboys shouting:

“little s is like a lasso!”

First word: SENTENCE

Cursive is what it meant to be an adult. All adults communicated in cursive, I would be lost without it. President Bill Clinton wrote in cursive. I adopted cursive as my own. I wrote page after page of childhood thoughts in 3rd and 4th grade in cursive, all of which is incomprehensable chicken scratch to me now. Cursive was outdated when I was in elementary school because of an invention called THE COMPUTER.

Public schools across the country saw computers, saw the pricetag, and took a pass for a decade or so. Computers were for Minesweeper, or to beat a Russian at chess, not for the classroom. The first time I touched a computer at school was in 7th grade during MODERN TECHNOLOGY. My teacher’s name was Mr. Rogers. He collected Beanie Babies on the side and had a decall on his van that said:

BEANIE BABIES BUY SELL OR TRADE!

Modern Technology wasn’t my first brush with a computer, or typing, but to some in my class it was. And I had to wonder how many of them, once their muscle memory was programmed for QWERTY, thought:

“Then why the hell did I learn cursive!”

This is what happens when you lie to kids.

4)  SMOKING CIGARETTES IS NOT FUN

ALF’s appearence in this video was court ordered.

When I was four, there was one movie I always begged my babysitter to rent:

CARTOON ALL-STARS

TO THE RESCUE!

All my favorite cartoon characters were there (and Alf) and together they were going to save a woe-begotten youth named Micheal from the clutches of the evil Smoke and his drugs.

The cartoon was sponsored by Mc Donalds, who distributed a free copy to every small town rental store to get out the message. To kids, the message was free cartoons.

After Simon (of the chipmunks) finds a box filled with maijuanna (which he quickly identifies) hidden underneath Micheal’s bed its up to our Cartoon All Star’s to save the day!

Simon the chipmunk introduced me to Marijuana.

The video even had an introduction by President George H. W. Bush and Barbara. I liked Barbara Bush because she looked like a Grandma. I thought Barbara Bush was the leader of the Grandmas.

After watching Cartoon AllStar’s To the Rescue twice a day for a year, not only was my babysitter really really sick of that damn movie, I was convinced that I would never be a smoker. If someone named Smoke who was a cloud of smoke dressed in a zuit suit with 80’s purple shades ever offered me a smoking tube (I had no concept of weed and cigarettes being seperate things) I would turn him down with confidence.

But smoke didn’t offer me my first cigarette. And it wasn’t a cigarette at first. It was a swisher sweet miniature cigar. Smoke had never offered a cigar to Michael in Cartoon AllStars… was a cigar alright? It even tasted fruity and sweet, like candy that made me feel cool. Then I didn’t like the fuity taste anymore, and tried my first cigarette, which I also liked. I had fun smoking, it made me free dizzy and carefree and mature.  Surely this wasn’t what the Cartoon AllStar’s were against. Bugs Bunny and Slimer weren’t against fun… were they? Maybe they’d never tried smoking before. Maybe they’d like it.

The minute I enjoyed smoking, I distrusted every public service announcement I’d ever heard about the dangers of smoking.

This is what happens when you lie to kids folks.

3) YOU CAN’T SUBTRACT BELOW ZERO

Adults, if  you think a concept is too complicated to explain to a child (sex) just tell them a simple, easy lie instead! That ‘ll get those little brats off your hands for at least five minutes.  That’s enough time to mix a margarita!

First grade math time. I ask my teacher, Mrs. Dahn (a very nice woman) what would happen if I subtracted 6 from 5.  She gave me a “now how do I explain this,” face for a bit. Then she said:

“If I have 5 apples, and you want me to give you 6 apples, I can’t. I only have 5 apples, I can’t give you another one. That would be impossible.”

This made me wonder, once again, why fruit and mathematics were so intertwined. I knew that Issac Newton invented gravity after an apple dropped on his head, and figured this had to be the connection.

I answered a math problem on the board later that day. Mrs. Dahn wrote down a trick problem. The problem was:

5

– 6

I raised my hand desperately. I knew the trick. I knew the secret.

Mrs. Dahn called on me. I marched up to the board, picked up the chalk, and confidently filled in the problem.

5

– 6

=

nOt EnouGH APPles

This is what happens when you lie to kids, folks.

2)  THERE ARE STARVING CHILDREN IN AFRICA WHO LOVE GREEN BEANS

Green beans are one of my oldest foes. Most of our battles during my childhood meals ended with me gagging down those slimy, luke-warm green tubes while my Mom beamed.

Her favorite trick was to tell me that there were starving children in Africa that loved green beans. They dreamed at night about them. There were commercials about feeding hungry African children that were perched on the knee of a fat bearded white man in khakis. Surely, all of your donations went to buy little Mbeko and his family a lifetime supply of green beans.

When my family moved to Botswana in 93, I went with the knowledge that Africans loved green beans. Every time I passed someone begging for money, I was sure they would spend anything I gave them instantly on green beans. Not wanting to support my arch nemesis, I didn’t give any money to the beggers I encountered for the first few months.

This is what happens when you lie to kids, folks.

1.) YOU CAN BE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP

Someday, kids, this could be you!

Children. Human sprouts. Little Susie could be a biologist, a police officer, a serial killer. Who’s to say? Dream big kids. Reach for the stars kids.

What did you want to be as a kid?

I wanted to be a hunter when I was three, like my babysitter Kathy. I loved animals. Later, I found out that the main purpose of hunting is to kill animals. Being that I loved animals, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want them to die.

I wanted to be a police officer next. My Uncle Dan, who always smoked cigarettes at my Grandma’s house in Indiana and kept his butts in a giant ceramic wasp, once told me that in another life he was a Werewolf.  I became convinced that in another life I had been a police officer.

Then, the family moved to Botswana. The Botswanan police force was mean, unfair, and my Dad seemed to greatly dislike them. I wanted my Dad to like me. Thus ended my law enforcement career.

Besides police, there were also thousands of exotic birds in Botswana. Hornbills, Crested Barbets, Tufted Tit-mice.

I loved animals. Birds were animals.

And so it came to pass that I wanted to be an Ornithologist (which Dad told me was a “bird scientist”)

In addition to police and exotic birds, there were also two different kinds of schools in Botswana, public (bad) and private (expensive).  I went to a private school called Westwood. Much of Westwood’s curriculum was British influenced, which meant that we had to wear sweaters in 90+ weather and “keep a stiff upper lip.” I was often told to keep my upper lip stiff.

Westwood surrounded me with children my age from all over the world. I was the only American in my grade, which allowed me to tell lots of lies. I’d learned how to lie from adults and television, and felt the consequences were not that severe if I told “a little white lie.”

My first grade teacher (who I later caught necking with her boyfriend during a showing of “The Mighty Ducks” at the multiplex of our local country club) asked all the children in the class

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

All the other kids had something cool or sexy to say.

“I want to be a model.”

“I want to be a rockstar.”

“I want to be an astronaut.” said Ron Livingston. Ron Livingston and his family lived at the game park in which his Father worked. Ron’s Father loved animals.

Astronauts are much cooler then Ornithologists, I thought. I had to beat Ron somehow. When it became my turn, I told everyone that my Grandpa was an astronaut, and they all believed me. Even our teacher, who seemed very impressed with astronauts.

Ron Livingston wanted to meet my Grandpa, but I told him that he had died (which he had) leaving all the secrets of the astronauts with me. I promised Ron that I would share said secrets with him someday, when I decided he was ready.

That night, when Ron was sleeping in his house on the game reserve, a wayward cobra from the reserve slithered in through the doggy door looking for eggs and other cobra-friendly foods.

Ron, dreaming of space, was grabbing for a coil that had popped loose from his shuttle craft. This coil (the cobra) then shot hot oil (poison) in his arm through two jagged pieces of metal (fangs).

A week later, after Ron’s lengthy stay in a private (expensive) hospital, his forearm was crisscrossed with hard, black veins that were plugged with deactivated cobra venom. I took one look at that arm and told Ron that, because of his injury, he could never be an astronaut. Ron then cried.

Children are cruel. I was a child. But,  I had also just done a very adult thing. I had lied to a fellow child.

The next week, Ron told me that he didn’t want to be an astronaut anymore. He wanted to work on the game reserve with his dad because, as it turns out, Ron loved animals.

There were no animals in space, I pointed out.

Maybe adults aren’t lying when they tell us we can be anything we want to be when we grow up. But knowing what you want to be is trickier then they make it sound. If I hadn’t discovered acting, I would still want to be an Ornithologist, because I love animals.

So, kids, maybe you can be anything you want to be when you grow up. But, unlike Adults make it sound, just because you are grown up dosen’t mean you’ll ever truly know what you want. Many grown ups don’t know what they want, obsess over it, and lead stressed and unhappy lives because some jerk adult told them as a kid that they could be anything they want to be when they grow up.

This is what happens when you lie to kids, folks.

What are your favorite lies that adults tell children? Did I leave any out?

Let baseballfordinner know. Post your favorites below!


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