realises that pretty much everything we tell kids is a lie.
The other day, I picked my son up from preschool and he looked at me with wide, pleading eyes that were glazed over with a film of tears. “Dadda,” he said, “will Pluto ever become a planet again?”
Wow, I thought. First global warming and now this. Thanks for nothing, science. For a long time I stood there not knowing what to say, which is annoying for someone whose sole job description is to say stuff. ff.
The only way I could make my son feel better was to violate olate the very foundations of science ence and knowledge – the essence e of truth itself. I suddenly y found myself nostalgically ally pining for the time I told ld him the dog died. He still ill thinks it’s “on holidays”. ”.
Firstly, I know all you u space purists will tell me that technically Pluto has just been demoted to “dwarf planet”, but that just adds insult to injury. For one thing the preferred terminology these days is “little person planet”.
And this is not the first rst time I have faced this moral dilemma. You see, e, my son is a huge Star Wars fan – Lord knows where e he got it. He has Star Wars T-shirts, Star Wars pyjamas and countless Star Wars toys, although of course he is not allowed to take them out of the box. Like many young boys, his favourite character is Darth Vader. He has a Darth Vader mask, a Darth Vader lightsaber and… well, you get the picture. And now that he is a “big boy”, as we are constantly reminding him every time he pours tomato sauce over his baby sister, he wants to watch his first Star Wars m movie. Naturally, the thing he is most excited about is finally seeing Dar Darth Vader in action. There is only one catch: my son thinks D Darth Vader is a good guy. He sim simply assumed he was a goodi goodie from the day he first saw him him, and I never had the heart to correct him. After all, what fat father would have lovingly introduc introduced their four-year-old son to a geno genocidal psychopath? And now he is about to watch an actual Star Wars movie and see what psycholo psychologists would call a “more complex complex” character. Fran Frankly, it is difficult to justify how a good g guy blows up an entire planet, tortures his daughter and murde murders his teacher all in the first h half of a family movie. And I say t that as someone who has worke worked in media and politics for th their entire adult life. It was at about this point th that I realised pretty much everything we tell our kids is a lie. If our child is holding something in his hands and another child randomly comes up and grabs it, we tell our child that it’s important to share.
But if an adult is holding something in his hands and another adult just randomly comes up and grabs it, we tell the police that we have just been mugged. Likewise, if someone says to a child “Give us a kiss!” we say: “How cute!” If someone says it to an adult we say: “That’s sexual harassment!” And of course we then monitor them, follow them and ask their teachers to report on any unusual behaviour. In the adult world, that’s what used to be called East Germany.
Which brings me to the ultimate question: how do we communicate with our children openly and honestly and tell them the truth about the world we live in?
Nah, only kidding. I just want to know how to lie more convincingly. Joe co-hosts Studio 10, 8.30am weekdays, on Network Ten.
“My son thinks Darth Vader is a good guy – and I never had the heart to correct him”