Funny White Lies You Believed as a Kid
Nothing shouts childhood like waking up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning and running down the stairs to see what Santa brought you. The Easter Bunny is nearly as exciting, with the Tooth Fairy coming in third.
But by the time kids are 8, most have figured out the truth: A man with a 60-inch waist can’t fit down the chimney, bunnies don’t lay eggs and a tiny floating person hijacking your teeth is too weird to be real.
When we hit adulthood, most of us come to the shocking realization that fictional characters weren’t the only thing our parents fibbed about. And they’re probably not the only lies we’ll tell our kids either. While your personal fib mileage may vary, you’re sure to find a few of these childhood lies familiar.
The Ice Cream Truck Only Plays Music When It’s All Out.
No kid can resist the allure of a sticky, sweet push-pop from a total stranger in a white van at the park. It’s a summer staple. And it’s almost impossible not to beg for one after mom says no either.
That’s why moms everywhere invented a clever defense mechanism: lying their faces off. The ice cream truck only plays music when they’re clean out of ice cream. The bag of potato chips on the kitchen counter is spicy. The chocolate lava cake from Trader Joe’s is only for grown-ups. You know the saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it?”
… If the lie works, use it.
If You Don’t Wear A Jacket, You’ll Catch Pneumonia.
Yep, you'll catch pneumonia, a cold or some other horrible bacterial infection. We’ve all heard this one, but the truth is, while, yes, you might get cold if it’s freezing outside and you’re not wearing proper clothing, but you won’t catch a cold.
Science shows that people get sick from close contact with another person who has a virus or bacterial infection. So, it’s actually more likely for you to catch a cold inside with sick people then it is outside without a jacket. Thanks Mom!
Sitting Too Close to the TV Destroys Your Vision.
For every kid watching Saturday morning cartoons, there is a mom reminding them not to sit too close — or else they’ll go blind, of course. While most kids figure out they’re not really going to go blind, many assume that watching TV up close will cause some kind of eye damage.
The truth is, sitting too close to the TV will not damage your eyesight in the least. Moms are right about one thing though; it’s still not the best idea. While you’re not going to need glasses following an in-your-face movie marathon, it’s likely you’ll experience some eye strain, a headache and maybe a sore neck. Worth the movie theater experience? Definitely.
Taking a Peek in the Microwave Will Give You Cancer.
Who’s over 25 and still instinctively backs away from the microwave? Anyone? According to ’90s moms, the radiation from heating up last night’s tacos is awful for you. They weren’t quite sure what exactly it would do, but they knew it would be bad. Maybe you’d get face cancer. Maybe your future babies would be born with 14 fingers.
Whatever those invisible rays did, it couldn't be good. Despite that myth being debunked over a decade ago, lots of now-adults are still a bit suspicious of those sinister boxes. And our kids probably will be, too.
If You Sneeze With Your Eyes Open, They’ll Fall Out.
Regardless of the rumors on the tetherball court, no matter how hard you sneeze, your eyes are safe. The fear makes perfect sense. We instinctively blink when we sneeze, and sneezes can be pretty darn forceful. Who wouldn’t assume that sneezing with your eyes open is a terrible plan?
As it turns out, the common schoolyard dare is risk-free. Our eyes are firmly held in place by strong muscles, and it’s extremely unlikely that even the sneeze to end all sneezes could send one flying. If science isn’t enough to convince you, this girl is living proof that the only risk of open-eye sneezes is looking silly on the internet.
Cracking Your Knuckles Will Give You Arthritis.
As a kid, I was a pretty talented harpist. Loved performing. What can I say? I’m a bit of a showoff. At one such recital, I distinctly remember a random old woman from the audience approaching me after my performance just to tell me, “Oh, you have such lovely hands! Don’t you ever crack your knuckles, or they’ll get big and ugly like mine!”
At the time, I had only tried it once, and it hurt my thumb, but it scared me all the same. Kids who start a knuckle-cracking habit are frequently sprinkled with similar warnings, but even the most obsessive knuckle-cracker is unlikely to sustain any long-term damage. At worst, you’ll probably experience no more than a temporarily weakened grip, a little soreness and a few dirty looks.
If You Cross Your Eyes, They’ll Stay Stuck That Way.
In the same vein as cracking your knuckles, here’s this gem that scared the bejesus out of kids ever attempting to look at something a little too close between their eyes.
Luckily, for anyone testing out their googly eyes, there’s no medical evidence that proves they will get stuck when crossed. Sure, the muscles in your eyes might get tired if you do it for an extended period of time, but who’s going to do that anyways?
Your Geriatric Golden Retriever Went to Live on a Farm.
Hate to break it to ya, but he didn’t. The farm trick is the oldest one in the book. Parents have been using it to spare their kids from the heartbreak of a lost or deceased pet for eons.
Depending on how gullible a child happens to be, it can be years before they recall that little white lie and realize their childhood home was in a suburb. The closest farm was 150 miles away. Ouch.
If You Get in Trouble at School, It Will Go on Your Permanent Record.
No child’s behavior is perfect. At school, some kids are more of a handful than others. If threats of a red card, staying inside at recess or a trip to the principal’s office fails to solve the problem, a poor teacher has only one card left to play. It’s the biggest, scariest card of all: The Permanent Record.
Kids are almost universally under the impression that every grade, every transgression, every detail of their behavior is meticulously recorded and stored in a mysterious filing cabinet. One day, a college admission rep will look through that file and dismiss every applicant whoever got detention, dozed through seventh period or depantsed a buddy in second grade.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the ominous permanent record doesn’t exist. Future employers don’t care if you pulled Sammie’s chair out in middle school. But Sammie might.
It’s Illegal to Drive With a Light on in the Car.
The day I hit 15, I dragged my mom to the DMV to get my learner’s permit. A few months later, I walked out with a license in hand. (OK, after one failed attempt. The instructor claimed I didn’t check my blind spot, but I SO did.) Years later, I was behind the wheel and asked my mom to check the directions. What did she do next? She clicked on the light. “Turn it off!” I told her. “You’re going to get me a ticket!” She seemed baffled. “You can’t get a ticket for that,” she said.
It finally hit me. Throughout all of driver’s ed, there wasn’t a single mention of illegal car lights. Yet, I distinctly recall that every time I switched on a light as a kid, my mom had reacted as though her 8-year-old had just cracked open a bottle of beer in the backseat. It wasn’t just me who thought car lights were illegal. A lot of kids thought that! It was common knowledge! And a complete farce. Are lights in the car annoying? For sure. Will you ruin your driving record if you flip one on? Definitely not.
Teachers Won’t Tolerate This Kind of Behavior in College.
Whether a kid shows up to homeroom in pajama pants or fails to show her work on an algebra test, teachers are always quick to remind them that college professors won’t put up with such nonsense. Students are constantly reminded that college is as serious as a heart attack. Hardass high school teachers are only so tough on them to prepare them for reality.
Once the college years finally arrive, students quickly realize “reality” isn’t anything like they were told. Sleeping in class is not unusual. If you text during a lecture, that’s your problem. Pajama bottoms and sweats are practically the uniform. No one cares if you show your work, either. It was all a ruse. If teachers want to really prepare students for college, they should probably teach them how to cook for themselves, stop procrastinating and avoid mental breakdowns instead.
You Will Be Expected to Use Cursive Into Adulthood.
This one is less likely to be told to today’s youth, as more and more school curriculums are opting to forgo teaching cursive. However, every generation before this one remembers a time when cursive was mandatory — so much, in fact, that students were told they’d use it throughout the rest of life.
How far from the truth was that little white lie? Even before the computer boom, most professionals typed on typewriters, and let’s just say, today, you’d be laughed out of an interview if you included “writing cursive” as a skillset on your resume.
Straight-A Students Always Turn Out to Be the Most Successful.
For pretty much all of my childhood, I was convinced that good grades would make or break my life. If you got As, you’d succeed. More than a couple of Bs and you might be doomed to eat instant ramen out of your parents’ garage well into your 30s. Parents and teachers usually reinforce this idea, stressing how important it is to earn high marks. The thing is, once you hit adulthood, you realize how little those As helped. Sure, it makes getting into college a lot easier. But once we all graduate, we’re all in the same boat.
Employers don’t ask about grades — rarely ever. Depending on your profession, some employers don’t even care if you graduated at all as long as you can get the job done right. The illusion that, if you follow all the correct steps, you’ll effortlessly fall into your dream job fresh out of college is a nice one, but it’s also utter BS. Once you’re out in the “real world,” things like confidence, dependability, resilience and people skills are critical to success. That A+ you earned in AP French? Not so much.
Your Parents Always Loved Each Other.
This one may sting a bit, especially if you're parents are no longer together, but, hey, sometimes the truth hurts. If your parents happened to meet in kindergarten, became best friends in junior high, fell in love in high school and lived happily ever after in all the years since, we’re all really happy for them. (And pretty jealous.) Even the happiest of marriages rarely start with a picture-perfect beginning though. Many couples take years to find each other, and the years before are often reserved for exploration and self-development.
In other words, parents aren’t perfect. No matter what they told you, mom and dad’s love story might not be quite as romantic as they led you to believe. Maybe dad took years to commit. Maybe mom secretly appeared in a Spring Break edition of "Girls Gone Wild." Whatever skeletons parents have hiding in their closets, it’s probably best to let them lie.
Moms Have Eyes in the Back of Their Heads.
Growing up, I was convinced that no matter what I did my mom would know. From eating the last cookie to signing up for a Facebook account after the “Oprah” show convinced her it was the devil, I was terrified that she would see — with her back-of-the-head eyes, like a human-sized Elf on the Shelf. Nearly five years after giving birth to my daughter, I’m still waiting for my official "mom eyes" to grow in … and I’m still worried that my own mom will know when I roll my eyes at her from the other room.
Now that I'm a parent, I realize that lying to your kids frowned upon in most cases, but a white lie here and there won’t do any harm. Whether you still shoo them away from the microwave or convince them that the pint of double chocolate mocha ice cream in the fridge is too spicy, don’t worry. We won’t tell.