We have this precarious arrangement with our kids that we will never lie to them when they ask us a question. And by 'lie' I mean all of them, the white ones, the grey ones, all of the hues that are available to us in these opaque times.
The upside is that they are learning to trust us when we tell them, well, anything really. They've got no reason to look at us out of the corner of their eye, "right, Daddy, whatever you saaay...".
The downside is... obvious.
Lying is helpful, right? It's convenient, functional, user-friendly. It gets us out of sticky situations, rescues us from unfavourable commitments, it's a handy face-saver and foot-in-mouth remover all-in-one.
It's also a preservative. It enables us parents to maintain some pretty swell traditions. Traditions like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and those bone-jarring New Year's Day hangovers.
So for Family Smith, all of that is off the table. But let me tell you something, our kids l-o-v-e love Santa Claus. And we love that they love him, mainly because we love the way they love him.
When my soon-to-be-five-year-old comes across Santa in the shopping centre, she gets a kick out of him. To begin with, he's funny looking. All dressed up in red (her second favourite colour), 'ho-ho-ho-ing' (which nobody she knows ever says), and willing to give lollies if she sits on his lap (actually, neither of us think that's a great idea).
But she enjoys the experience because, well, why wouldn't she? She knows he's a big old guy dressed up in a costume. She LOVES costumes, and wears them herself whenever her Mummy will let her. It's a great big game of pretend that only comes around once a year. That's actually pretty cool for a kid to be a part of.
"But!" Some will say. "What about the children?" "Will nobody think of the children! (Specifically) my children, who's precious belief in the real Santa Claus will be destroyed by your kids anti-Santa ideology!"
Why? Because, along with the whole bugbear about lying, we also have this big rule about not being a brat and ruining other people's fun.
Are your kids dressing up as Queen Elsa and Captain Jack Sparrow for this Saturday's long-awaited birthday party? Fear not! My kids aren't going to start crowing about the fact that there is no real Elsa or Jack, because, well, that'd be a really crappy thing to do.
It's great. For five years my daughter has been privy to one of the biggest conspiracies involving almost all of her fellow small-humans and she's never said a word - even when nobody's watching. I should know. I asked her the other day. And we've got this thing about lying.