What’s a Little White Lie?

My five year old son went to the dentist yesterday. The office is pretty good about bribing the kids to get them to open up. Kind of like the opposite of torture techniques. Anyway, the kids are always sure to walk away with, at least, a new toothbrush and a temporary tattoo. But yesterday was even more special. My son got to dig for a new toy in the treasure chest. Wrapped in a long paper bag- like the kind you might see someone sitting on a curb guzzling out of- the insides remain a mystery until unwrapped by a lucky (and compliant) child. After tearing into his newfound treasure, he discovered not one, but two styrofoam airplanes. My little boy tore through that office, crash landing his plane into dental hygienists and ceilings alike. He was thrilled! Exuberant, maybe.

He brought the planes home. We even, somehow, managed to avert certain disaster while he flew the planes through our house. Little glass knick knacks everywhere cringed in horror, then sighed in relief. He flew them all over the house and down the stairs. As you may have guessed, he was a tad rough with the planes. The inevitable happened. First, the plane lost a wing, then another tore. He somehow managed to keep it together, both the plane and his attitude. But, after he went to bed, I found one little plane on the kitchen counter, badly damaged. I assessed the situation and…. I threw it away.

Flash forward about 15 hours. My son is no longer speaking to me. He went in search of his plane after lunch and couldn’t find it. When he’d been looking for more than a few minutes, I evaluated my options: do I tell him I threw it away or do I just play dumb while he tears the house apart in search of it? I told the truth. Hence, his silence. Actually, it’s not truly silence. He’s loud. He’s crying. He’s infuriated. He wants his plane back and I’m not going dumpster diving for a plane that’s not going to fly anyway.

So, is it better to tell a little white lie, or even omit the truth, in order to save yourself (and your child) some heartache? Or… do you bite the bullet and let them know what really happened? I draw the line at revealing the sordid details about the existence of certain characters…


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