Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Necessary Tales

"Lauren, brush your teeth." "If you don't brush your teeth, the mosquito will bite them!" "Do you want the mosquito to bite your teeth?" "Well brush your teeth then!"

Yes, this was the slight palaver we had in getting Lauren to brush her teeth last night. The threat of a mosquito bite did the trick though, and we got her teeth looking that little bit whiter.

And so I began to reflect on tales, stories, even LIES, that we tell our children from day to day without even realising it. Many a time I have heard my students telling me all sorts of things beginning with, "My mummy said..." or "My father said..." and my immediate reaction was to dismiss these fables as untrue and damaging to a child's understanding of truth and reality.

Yet our white lie to Lauren last night got me re-considering the relevance of all these myths we form in order to help our children understand a point or to simply get them to do something that is for their own good! Because sometimes, reality is all too boring for a young child; fantasy seems to make more sense in their world. In the case of Lauren, she knows that when mosquitoes bite, it's very itchy. But she doesn't yet understand that it's impossible for a mosquito to bite ones teeth. So us adults take advantage of their limited knowledge...for a good purpose!


  1. Oh the teeth brushing palaver...how many memories does that bring back from 20+ years ago. I know exactly who she takes after, bless her :)

  2. Yes she is very much like moi. But I'm glad she's like me and not anyone else! I've turned out reasonably well.


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