My lie was about Elves. Christmas Spy Elves to be exact. These Spy Elves, as many dishonest mothers claim to know, are an elite force of magical Elves who Santa sends out into homes all over the world. They collect important information on children's behavior in advance of the Christmas holiday. They are strictly recon in nature and their rigid code of conduct decrees that they should never, ever be seen. These Elves are looking for consistently good behavior and will often visit the same home repeatedly to confirm that their collected intelligence is accurate for each subject. They also have super speed and are stealthy quiet.
My daughter regards me carefully. She desperately wants to believe in magical Elves but she also loathes getting out of bed. I see her weighing the facts in her head, considering the probability of these Ninja-like spy elves. She burrows slightly deeper into the blankets and regards me with her sea green eyes over the comforter. This is the part where I understand the lie needs some clever embellishing. She is too bright, too perceptive to be completely taken in so easily.
"I saw one just the other day. Just really quick...running along our stone wall. I thought it was a squirrel at first but it was too fast, like a red blur." I blurt out, a bit too gleefully.
Jaden sits up now, eyes wide. I decide to go just a bit deeper...
I tell her a story about my "friend" who stayed up late one night making pies. Too tired to clean up, she went to bed leaving the counter top covered in flour. In the morning she found tiny footprints in the flour. Tiny footprints and...glitter. I think it's the glitter that seals the deal for her. Glitter apparently, is irrefutable proof of the existence of magical beings for Jaden, everything from fairies to unicorns to reindeer and magical spy elves.
Jaden leaps out of bed and begins to hit me with a barrage of excited questions. Do I know if elves can fly? What do elves eat? Are there girl elves and boy elves? I field the questions calmly and with unwavering conviction. She listens intently, all the while happily complying with my dressing her and doing her hair - things that normally spark epic battles most mornings. I've got her, hook, line and sinker as they say.
Am I proud of my deceit? Not exactly but Santa and magic elves have such a finite existence in the lives of children. Giving them life for such a brief time doesn't seem so wrong, especially...and let me be very honest here, if those things inspire her to be on her best behavior. I know that one day in the not too distant future some bratty schoolmate will convince her that these things don't exist. She will believe their words over my beautifully constructed lies and the jig will be up. I'll have to contend with my daughters realization that I've lied to her all these years, knowingly manipulated and influenced her good behavior. She'll likely demand to know what else isn't real now that the veil has been brutally pulled from her eyes. I dread this most of all - that day she loses the magical promise and possibility of childhood innocence in her life.
For now, I'm at peace with my lies.....mostly. Santa and his spy elves guarantee me at least a solid month of smooth mornings, cooperation and good behavior. More importantly, it keeps magic alive and well in my little girl and that is never a bad thing. As an adult, I look back on my own childhood and I remember believing myself and it was the believing that was the very best part of everything.
So, we will make cookies for Santa and sprinkle reindeer food over the yard with abandon. We will watch quietly for darting elves and trails of glitter and listen for sleigh bells in our beds at night. I will practice the craft of lying with love and keep the magic alive for as long as her heart allows.