So I asked a colleague who is due to have a baby in the next 2 months if she found out the sex. She called my question with the gender and raised me with the little guy’s name. I’m not sure what my reaction was but I’d venture it was somewhere between raised eyebrows and gaping jaw. With as much grace as a person can conjure to deflect the impression that they are not a serial killer, she quickly added that they aren’t into secrets or surprises. This isn’t the first time I’ve been dealt the name of a womb’s resident, but it’s unusual, and she, no doubt having encountered dumb faces like mine, had her defense set to hair-trigger. The exchange naturally turned to my presumption that this same child would not know Santa. He won’t.
I confided that this was a minor source of conflict between Yinh and I. Minor only because Yinh was mildly against lying to the kids about St. Nick, while I was prepared to die on that hill. So I got my way and now she calls me Griswold. Our kids believe in Santa but she forces me to have skin in the game.
This raises the more serious questions about the lies we tell our children. We all do it. We all had it done to us. Adolescence is like an extended episode of Mythbusters where we get our worldview debunked for about 10 years straight without commercials. Paul Graham brilliantly reminds us that while we must lie to the kids we should understand the costs. We should understand which rationalizations are really about protecting ourselves. Finally, recognize that “most [of us] go through life with bits of packing material
adhering to [our] minds and never know it.”
Shedding it all is an active process I see people struggling with right into old age. I still discover residue in my mental desk hinting at a bigger mess in the back of its drawers.
If lies are the drug, Graham teaches us what they are indicated for but doesn’t sugarcoat the side effects. Here’s the red pill.