My mother lied to me. She lied about a bunch of stuff, which apparently was for my own good because her lies kept me safe, healthy, and most of all, they kept me alive.
Face it, except for Mother Teresa, most mothers lie. I imagine my Mom burning the midnight oil and memorizing facts from Mom’s Axioms to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want. It’s a book that’s secretly handed down from generation to generation and available only to mothers, nannies and possibly kindergarten teachers.
While mothers everywhere stress lying is wrong, I don’t think they believe it. The lies Mom told my brother, sister and me might have meant the difference between death by spanking and death. Period.
Mom told a lot of whoppers to keep us alive. These are her top 10.
- If you sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind. Watching television in the dark is a sure-fire path to losing your eyesight. It won’t happen all at once. First, your eyes start to deteriorate and you need glasses, which is unfortunate because boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. But it gets worse. After enough television watching from an unsafe distance, you’ll graduate to dark glasses, a white cane and a seeing eye dog. To this day, I watch TV from across the room with all the lights on.
- Wear a hat when you go outside in cold weather, or you’ll get pneumonia and die. A parallel safety violation is never go outside with wet hair because you’ll catch pneumonia and die. It’s okay to go out in the rain because you’re not made of sugar and you won’t melt. Just make sure you have a hat and umbrella. Otherwise, well, prepare to greet the Grim Reaper.
- Never answer a phone on the first ring. Apparently this is done to deceive people into thinking I have better things to do than sit by the phone. Of course, this was before I carried a phones with me everywhere I went. Even the bathroom. Ewww.
- Coffee will stunt your growth. My grandmother drank coffee—a lot of it. In fact, she drank so much coffee that she should have been a Munchkin. How come she wasn’t? Starbucks may not know about this one. Neither do their millions of daily coffee, cappuccino, frappuccino-guzzling customers.
- Wait 30 minutes after eating before going into the water or you’ll get cramps and die. I believed this one so strongly that I wouldn’t even get into the bathtub until at least 30 minutes after dinner.
- If you eat seeds (watermelon, orange, grapefruit), it’s inevitable you’ll end up with a tree growing in your stomach. I wonder if Dr. Oz knows about this when he encourages us to eat pumpkin seeds?
- Crack your knuckles and your fingers will fall off. Just like that. Thunk, thunk, thunk on the ground. No more typing. No more texting. No more hitchhiking.
- “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” This axiom has puzzled children since the beginning of time. Just how, exactly is this going to hurt you more than me? Perhaps you’d care to switch places?
- If you forget something and go back into the house to get it, sit down before you leave again. There is a possibility you might die if you don’t. I still follow this one. I heard it from my grandmother and my mom. And I think I read it in the National Enquirer. It must be true.
- My all-time favorite Mom lie is that eating carrots will help me see in the dark.
The World Carrot Museum says that lie was started by the British Ministry of Information to mislead the Nazi Luftwaffe (Air Force) during World War II. Luftwaffe pilots dropped bombs over Britain at night and thanks to secret radar technology the Royal Air Force (RAF) fought them off. Rather than let the Nazis discover the Airborne Interception Radar, Brits concocted a farce that RAF pilots had night vision because they ate carrots.
When carrots showed up on my dinner plate, it was accompanied by the lie that eating them would help me see in the dark. Did Mom think I was going to grow up to be a Navy Seal? A cat burglar?
Sorry, Mom. I won't eat carrots. If I need to see at night, I’ll use a flashlight.
But thanks for keeping me away from death’s door.