Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Harsh truth from our kids beats little lies that make us adults feel better ... honest!

By Kerry McLean

How many lies do you think you tell in a day? Two, three… 20? And before you give me that big wide-eyed look and declare that you would never tell a fib, think about it. How many times has someone offered to make you a cup of tea or coffee and, when you sip it, somehow it seems to have transmogrified into the actual taste of evil. The kind soul who made it asks if it's alright and you murmur, 'Mmm great, thank you'.

Or, how about when you go to the hairdressers?

You ask for a chic and tasteful style, with visions of emerging like a young and stylish Sophia Loren, but instead you're left with a blow dried bouffant a la Donald Trump.

But how do you respond when your stylist asks if that's ok for you? 'Oh yes, thanks, that's lovely', you say, as you bite back your tears and fish out a hefty tip.

Those of you in long-term relationships don't even try to deny that stretching the truth can be the difference between a happy home life and a cold night in the spare room.

When your other half is talking at length about the intricate offside rules of football or the ins and outs of the latest scandals engulfing TV's soapland, smiling and nodding, pretending to look interested, that all comes under the same umbrella as little white lies in my book.

Those fibs can be a kindness, an act of appreciation, when it's nicer to let the truth stay slightly out of focus.

We've just waved goodbye to another Christmas and most of us would be lying if we didn't confess to getting at least one present that we disliked a wee bit.

But did you admit that? Most likely not. Not unless of course you were under six years old, because it's around that age that we learn to tell those polite porkies. Before that, all those social niceties, the pressure to be thoughtful to others and considerate of their feelings, are well and truly in the back seat and up front and driving the show is a searing honesty which most parents both love and dread.

I remember my eldest when she was at nursery school. Home, after a hard day's work at the water tray, she came up, onto my knee for a cuddle and started staring at me intently playing with my hair.

'You look just like a princess mummy,' came the little voice.

My heart swelled until the follow up line: 'Your hair is all silver.' Gee, thanks. From princess to old age pensioner in one fell swoop.

Or there was the time a friend of mine came to visit and my son asked her if she and I had really been at school together.

Even though she said yes, I could see he was finding it hard to believe.

I wondered if it was because he couldn't imagine mummy being at school? 'No', he said. 'It's because your friend has no wrinkles and you have loads Mummy.'

That may be true but what is also true is that my friend has no children, two facts which are inextricably linked, I'm thinking.

I was always happy to take the slings and arrows of harsh truth that my children chucked my way, it's when they scattered them around strangers that it really stung.

The memory of my two, both pre-school, joining forces to ask an elderly gentleman at the library, 'Why has your hair growed all funny?', is one that sticks out.

The man in question had a natural ring of grey hair around his head and then a wig that resembled a trained ginger hamster plonked on top.

Books were abandoned and I had them ejected and back out onto the street almost before the words had left their lips.

At the time, those moments of bone marrow-melting embarrassment are hard to live, but looking back they're some of the funniest, most treasured times that stick out from when my eldest two were tiny.

Now that the toddler is talking non-stop, I'm just waiting for more of those toe-curling times and I can't wait to hear what she comes out with.

Honestly! I mean, would I lie to you?

The Kerry McLean Show is on Monday to Thursday, BBC Radio Ulster, 3pm-5pm

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