#AtoZChallenge: C is for ‘Can I Just Lie?’

c is for can i just lie
photo credit: IMG_8026 via photopin (license)

I don’t remember the circumstance of this question.

CCan I just lie, dad? It sat among hundreds of other questions my girls ask on a given day. The ones I remember to write down, anyway. Some float away into the ether and out of my memory. Sometimes … sometimes, they stick.

Like when my youngest asked, would you die for me, daddy? Then, you give it its own post.

Like, Can I Just Lie, Dad? It’s a question born perhaps of filling a water cup in Taco Bell with Baja Blast Mountain Dew. Or claiming to be 9 when being 10 would mean an extra $3.95 on the buffet.

Or after someone lost someone’s soccer ball/headband/nail polish remover.

It came because the example I set contains the right thing and the wrong thing in those situations.Yes, love, you can just lie. It’s easy. Just, say not the truth. It’s convenient. It can get you out of a bind.

A little lie can get you out of spelling words

It can excuse you from being late to practice or not turn in your spelling words.

Our car broke down. My dad needed to go to the hospital. He’s okay, but I didn’t do my homework because of it. I’m 5-8. The check’s in the mail. I sent that email. You didn’t get it? Lies are easy. It’s the next part that gets tricky.

One lie alters reality.

Why are you coming from the west, when you said you were caught in traffic on the east side? What about that Instagram from Carowinds when you said you’d be at church? Why do you smell like pineapple?

One lie pollutes the pool.

Lies need excuses made for them, a whole tangled web of new reality that isn’t real to keep it supported. It can grow outlandishly tall. My dad’s still in the hospital. The car, I don’t know, part of it just … exploded! Someone just threw pineapple juice on my bookbag. I don’t know why.

The truth costs more up front. Lies cost more in interest.

Convenience in lies

Truth isn’t easy and truth isn’t perfect. Truth spoken or written might not always lead to good. It leads where it needs to go, and where you need to go. Yes, I took your notebook. No, I didn’t really go to my sister’s. I had more than one beer. Take my keys?

Truth fits in the same bag as trying your best, though.

Truth is also those feelings you still harbor that you weren’t able to articulate when you needed to most. It might not have mattered. Yet, that they’re still inside, still unheard … that’s a tough act to follow.

No one’s perfect.

I’ll implore you though, lovey, to choose truth as often as you can. Unapologetically. Those truths that impact those around you, loved ones and those you just share this earth with. The most important truths, though, are those that comprise you.

So, yes. You can just lie.

I can too. Let’s remind each other, by presence more than words, of the power that truth has, even following lies in the lineup. No matter how far off course lies veer us, it’s nothing a dose of truth can’t fix.

And that’s the truth.

lie quote


  1. My own father taught me early on not lie after I told my first lie, by simply explaining that if I lied, I would be in trouble and get punished, but if I told the truth I most likely wouldn’t. Even after all these years, that has stuck with me and truly not a good liar and do believe that it is in part due to this past conversation with my dad to be quite honest indeed.

    1. That was the message behind my whole concept of daddy/daughter dates, Janine. I wanted the girls to know they had a safe place if they got in a bind, and to hopefully develop trust between us for when it happened. So glad that worked for you and your dad, too.

  2. Love that Mark Twain quote. As for lies, I remember when I was in high school and I told my dad that everyone in my math class was cheating on a test, and he told me that I should cheat too.

  3. I was a very good liar as a kid. Half the lies I came up with I would be surprised when people believed them. I wasn’t the best of kids…for Karma’s sake, I hope I manage to teach my kids better.

    1. Kid lies are creativity pushing the envelope. What a thin line – some lies become compelling fiction, others land you in after school detention. I firmly believe the hardships we encounter – from external sources or self-imposed – can turn to good if we can teach from them. And learn from them, of course.

  4. This is gold, Eli! If only all parents said this to their kids and lived up to it themselves we could make the world a better place–one family at a time. Sometimes the truth can be “inconvenient,” but a lie told can destroy trust.

    1. Thanks Lyn. I’m far from perfect in this regard, but it’s in the thought process, always. Especially in how I deal with these daughters of mine, because a lifetime of trust can’t be taken for granted.

  5. Telling the truth was something my dad really stressed. That being said, he also told me that if I was 100% allowed to use him as an excuse to get out of things… “Oh. I wish I could go to that event, but my dad won’t let me.” He also knew I wasn’t likely to use it.

    1. Dads ought to take that stance, right? I think the offer to use him as an excuse could have come in handy, when friends aren’t making the best decisions. I hope my girls would see it that way, too.

      I’ve told them that I don’t care how many miles or what the clock says, if they’re not comfortable in a car or a house or anywhere, they’re to call and I will come straight away. No lecture, no punishment, and if there’s a 24-hour Jack in the Box along the way, they’ll be a shake in it somehow.

  6. Well said, Eli. Technically, you *can* just lie, but that devalues you and everyone around you. My son got a stomach ache at church this weekend. Ultimately it turned out to be from eating candy for breakfast. His tummy felt better after he confessed. It was the lie and not the sugar making him feel bad. We had a good talk about that.

    1. Thanks, Rabia. Some people don’t mind that devaluation, but especially as I get older (wiser?), I see it more starkly. Maybe with illustrations not unlike what your son experienced.

      Great learning opportunity, right?

  7. Brilliant post, Eli. I think you perfectly explained why, though sometimes easier at first, lying isn’t the better option. It just creates a mess you have to dig yourself out of.

  8. True story: When I was in college, a girl who lived down the hall from me came from a very well-known political family. This girl didn’t feel like studying for an exam so she told the teacher that her grandmother had died. The professor passed this news along to the Office of Freshman Studies who promptly phoned the girls “big-wig” father to express condolences on behalf of the university. Busted. I’m not sure how she thought she’d get away with the lie. Mark Twain is right. The truth is easier to remember. Plus, whether it’s easy or hard, telling the truth is the right thing to do.

    1. You start killing off your relatives for convenience, how can you keep up, Mo? Makes me think of the M*A*S*H* episodes when Max Klinger said relatives had died – and Colonel Potter pulled out a file to detail the last few times that same relative had kicked the bucket.

      If you get away with it once, it just empowers you to try it again – and perhaps even bolder.

  9. Best quote ever at the end!

    We started in on the kids early treating lying like a “federal offense” in our home with the assurances that regardless of what they did we would help them fix it, but if we found out they were lying about anything, it would be harder on them down the road.

    Wonderful post!

    1. You can’t lose with Twain, Tiff. That’s a good precedent to set – and it hold us parents accountable, too, when things happen to us.

      So glad you liked this one.

  10. The truth costs more up front. Lies cost more in interest.

    This will stay with me. Do you mind if i make a poster and link it to this post.
    I would also quote you as the reference.

    1. The truth’s an investment, isn’t it? Lies are the high-interest loans we think are the only way to pay for it.

      Humbled that this post resonated with you. I’d be honored if you’d make a poster and link. Thank you.

  11. All things done in darkness, will eventually come to light. I’m a firm believer in that. You may avoid a cost in the moment, but that price will come due one day. And the energy involved to maintain a lie? Who has time for that?
    My son desperately wants a YouTube account. And Instagram. Also Facebook. But the rules for all social media say age 13 — he’s 11. Can’t you just lie for me mom? Um no. First of all, tell your own lies if that’s your decision in life. And second, um No. Yes, even though all your friends moms apparently lied for them. It’s wrong and I won’t do it. Good talk son.

    1. That’s true, Les. You learn it more as time goes on. Even if I didn’t, it just feels easier, being up front.


      They will understand someday, our kids. Maybe even why I drive the speed limit always.

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