The dilemma of the white lie
Generally speaking, I’m all about honesty. Why has Mommy locked herself in the bathroom? It’s called food poisoning. And the door is locked because it’s possible your eyes would never fully recover upon witnessing what is happening on the other side. Why are we having hot cocoa and cereal for dinner? Because those are two things you know how to fix, and they won’t make Mommy lock herself in the bathroom again upon smelling them.
But, as anyone who’s been around a two- and three-year-old knows, there are times when the questions are as hard to answer as a telephone survey at dinnertime. Case in point — we rented a car during our recent vacation in Delaware. Emma, our three-year-old, wanted to know who this beautiful, new set of wheels we were using belonged to.
“It’s National Rental’s,” my all-knowing husband offered. “Yeah, but whose is it?” she asked again. “It’s a rental. Not ours,” he said, feeling a surge of more questions arising. I turned to him and whispered, “Do you REALLY feel like explaining what the word rental means? She just needs a name. Any name will do.”
He sighed. “Okay. This car belongs to Lee Ann.” “Lee Ann?” she repeated. “Yes, Lee Ann.” “Oh, okay.” And then there was momentary silence. Until she needed to know exactly where we were going and how long it would take to get there, as though her three-year-old sensibilities had a fine grasp of what Rehoboth Beach and Two Hours meant. Nonetheless, we told her the truth on both counts and were on our way.
We’ve been back from our vacation for four days now. Yesterday Emma asked what we did with Lee Ann’s car. “Whose car?” I asked. “Lee Ann’s,” she repeated. “Oh. Um, we gave it back.” “Soooo, where does Lee Ann live?”
To make a long story short, we’re back to figuring out how to explain the word rental to a three-year-old. I’m curious, though, how do you all handle all the Whos, the Why’s and the What’s That? without constantly falsifying the truth?