Nine lies I told my daughters and why I told them

  1.  Your great-great-great grandmother was not an elephant

You once asked me why our elbows have such thick wrinkly skin. While it is true that people refer to this skin as elephant skin, this is not because we are distantly related to an elephant. (But for the record, how cool would that be?!?) The term ‘elephant skin’ could be viewed as derogatory and I wanted to give you a positive association. So I told you that not only is it called elephant skin, but it is also a connection to our heritage of which you should feel proud. Elephants are beautiful, strong and fiercely matriarchal and maternal.

  1. Grey hair is not an indication of increasing witch powers

Oh how I wish this one were true. When you started noticing my grey hairs I realized that this was an opportunity to set a tone with regards to the inevitability of aging. I do not wish you to grow up dreading yourself aging. I hoped by using this simple metaphor that you would see that not only is aging unavoidable but that there are many advantages to aging. That we grow wiser and in many ways more powerful. Let’s embrace that.

  1. Your father and I did not meet 250 years ago slaying the last evil dragons of Wellington

This story came about one day when your dad was shopping for tools and I, in need of a serious distraction for you and your sister, answered the question ‘how did you and dad meet’. What followed was a story of strength, courage, fantasy and companionship that surprised and delighted even me. Even the other people shopping let their own conversations trail off as they moved within earshot. The story went that we were part of an ancient order of sword warriors and when the call went out to defend Wellington from the evil dragons we responded and met while saving a fellow warriors life. By the way, those swords are tucked away in a cave somewhere in case the dragons should return one day.

  1. Also, in related news, I am not 285 years old

Age doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. Instead of trying to make myself younger to the world, I exaggerated my age because we should be so lucky to become old. Plus it adds this timeless quality to me because you are too young to worry about my mortality.

  1. Those big rocks are not evidence of epic troll battles

No there are no trolls in the world and they don’t come out at night sometimes, hurling boulders at each other in fierce troll-battles. Sorry. I wish it were true as as well.

6. My jelly-belly is not my favorite part of my body

Sure I love my postpartum tummy, because it nurtured you and your sister, but it is not the part of my body I love the most. But I’ll be damned if I breathe even the tiniest of indication that having you both in some way ‘damaged’ or ‘ruined’ my body. Our bodies change and our self-love should not depend on how much it approximates the current unrealistic body type.

7. I can’t actually read your mind

Well, this one is actually somewhat true. While I can’t literally see into your head, I know you. Oh, do I know you. I recognize the expressions on your face and the minute body movements that telegraph your intentions. And while a day will come when you have developed a better poker face and stronger self-control, until then, be wary little one.

8. The elevator is not broken

Elevators are surprising reliable and not nearly broken as often as I tell you they are. I tell you this because movement is good, making an effort is good.

9. I don’t know everything.

I know a lot. A really big bunch of stuff. But you and your sister know more than I did at your age and I am absolutely sure you will know much more than I do when you are my age. But in the meantime, I tell you this lie because I want you to have confidence in the advice I give. It also conveys my own confidence in my statements. (Plus, let’s face it, smartphones and the internet really do enable us to know everything). Yet, I also will tell you that I don’t know the answer to things sometimes. Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter to you at all. It is like a strange Schrödinger’s cat of simultaneously knowing and not knowing, such as can only exist in a child’s mind.

Don’t be mad at me darling daughters. I know that soon you will realise the various truths, just like you already know that there isn’t really a tooth fairy or an Easter bunny. Hopefully these stories will become treasured memories so you can recall with fondness a childhood where we fostered your imagination and helped create alternative metaphors for serious and sometimes scary topics. And this magic mixture where truth and perception of reality can still be so lovingly manipulated? Long may it last.


Good books

July 26, 2011

I started writing a post extolling all the bad things about Disney Princesses and I was half way through a spreadsheet (yes, I’m being serious) when I gave up and decided to tell you about a book I like and why.

The Big Alfie Out of Doors Storybook – I like that it says ‘out of doors’ first of all.

The stories are all about Alfie and his sister Annie Rose. They do things. They play. Outside. Without electronics. He has a pet rock. He loses it. He is sad. He finds it. He is happy.

He sleeps in a tent. He get’s scared. He notices things like when he is the only person awake. Or that exact moment when the sun goes under the horizon.

He acts like a kid. And his mum had short hair.

Loved it.

I like the pirate adventures and fantasy filled books, sure I do. But sometimes I just want a story about a kid, with a rock and an imagination.