Joe Hilde­brand

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents -

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”

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