By Susan DeLay
My mother lied to me.
Face it, with the possible exception of Mother Teresa, most mothers lie. Mom passed away three years ago at 89, but I am certain she spent most of her adult years burning the midnight oil and memorizing facts from Mom’s Axioms to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want. It’s a book that’s secretly handed down from generation to generation and available only to mothers, kindergarten teachers, and nannies.
Mom Lies Saved Lives
Mom passed away a few years ago, but I still remember the whoppers she told me when I was growing up—whoppers that I still live by. Granted, her lies were for my own good—designed to keep me safe, healthy, and most of all, alive. (Minus that big fat lie about having to eat carrots.)
While mothers everywhere tell us lying is not okay, that’s not completely true. The lies Mom told my brother, sister, and me might have meant the difference between death by spanking and death period.
Mom’s Top 10 Whoppers
- Coffee will stunt your growth. My grandmother drank coffee and my parents drank coffee—a lot of it. How come they weren’t short? Starbucks may not know about this one. Neither do their millions of customers.
- If you eat seeds (watermelon, orange, grapefruit), it’s inevitable you’ll end up with a tree growing in your stomach. I wonder if nutritionists know about this. They’re big on encouraging people to eat seeds as part of a healthy diet.
- Crack your knuckles and your fingers will fall off. Yep, just like that. Thunk, thunk, thunk on the ground.
- Wait 30 minutes after eating before going into the water or you’ll get cramps and die. I believed this one so strongly that I wouldn’t even get into the bathtub until at least 30 minutes after dinner. Showers are okay. You won’t die from a post-meal shower—unless you happen to be spending the night in the Bates Motel.
- Wear a hat when you go outside in cold weather, or you’ll get pneumonia and die. A parallel safety violation is never go outside with wet hair because you’ll catch pneumonia and die. It’s okay to go out in the rain because you’re not made of sugar and you won’t melt. Just make sure you have a hat and umbrella. Otherwise, well, you could die.
- Never answer a phone on the first ring. Rumor has it this is done to deceive people into thinking you have better things to do than sit by the phone. Of course, this was before we carried our phones with us everywhere we went. Even the bathroom. (Ewww.)
- If you sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind. Watching television in the dark is a surefire path to losing your eyesight. It won’t happen all at once, of course. Your eyes will start to deteriorate and you’ll need glasses, which is unfortunate because Mom also said boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.
But wait. There’s more. After enough television watching from an unsafe distance, you’ll graduate to dark glasses, a white cane, and a seeing-eye dog. To this day, I watch TV from across the room with the lights on. Once you pass a certain age, your eyes are going to deteriorate anyway. Mom didn’t have an answer for that, but I did. It’s called old age.
- If you forget something and go back into the house to get it, sit down before you leave again. There is a possibility you might die if you don’t. To this day, I follow this rule. I heard it from both my grandmother and my mom. And I think I read it in the National Enquirer, so it must be true.
- This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. This rule, usually applied before a parent doles out punishment, has puzzled children since the beginning of time. Just how, exactly is this going to hurt you more than me? I once offered to help take her pain by switching places. I was very sorry I asked.
- My all-time favorite Mom lie is that eating carrots will not only help our eyesight, but it will also allow us to see in the dark. The World Carrot Museum says this falsehood was started by the British Ministry of Information to mislead the Nazi Luftwaffe (Air Force) during World War II. Luftwaffe pilots struck at night and thanks to secret radar technology, the Royal Air Force (RAF) fought them off. Rather than let the Nazis discover the Airborne Interception Radar, Brits concocted a farce that RAF pilots had night vision because they ate carrots. Lies. All of it.
I still think of my mother every time I stare down a cooked carrot.
So, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.
And that’s no lie.
Susan DeLay is from the Buckeye State where she took her first paying job at the age of 15, writing a newspaper column called Teen Talk. She lived in the Chicagoland area for 20-some years before giving away her shovel and ice scraper and moving to The Villages.
An industry veteran in publishing services, PR and media relations, Susan wrote “DeLayed Reaction,” a newspaper column, for 25 years. The column is now a blog at www.susandelay.wordpress.com.
She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, The Florida Writers Association, Pen, Paper & Pals, Writers League of the Villages, and Working Writers Critique Group. She is currently learning that poems don’t have to rhyme and is working on a novel entitled “Saving Jesus.”