Truth-telling and St. Patrick’s Day

There is much speculation in these parts regarding the comings and goings of leprechauns. “How do they fit under the door?” Mateo wants to know. “Do they swim all the way from Ireland?” Olivia has a classmate who swears she saw something green scooting out from the restroom yesterday. At recess, Olivia went to look for herself, and was disappointed when she came up empty-handed.

Like many children, ours believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and, yes, little green men who speak with a brogue and wear pointed shoes. My husband and I encourage these fantasies: they’re the stuff of childhood magic. What kind of world would it be without reindeer that fly, fairies that fit through keyholes, fluffy rabbits that leave eggs filled with candy? A dreary one, indeed.

Then why do I feel uneasy as I spin longer and more convoluted yarns about the activities of leprechauns? Even as I tell Mateo, “It’s the pot of gold he’s after. Let’s set a trap with this paper cup,” I squirm at my own dishonesty. What happens when Mateo discovers I’ve been lying? That the little green man, the pot of gold, the rainbow–all of it is total fabrication? Will he question the validity of everything else I tell him? Where will he draw the line?

Truth-telling is critical for adopted children. Every adoption book, counselor, and psychologist tells me so, and my intuition as a mother agrees.  We are taught to give our children the facts as we know them, age-appropriately, beginning from Day One. Thus, our “birthing story” goes something like this: “We met you in a hotel lobby in Guatemala City. Your hair was as black as a wool beret. You were born in another lady’s tummy. We’re your mommy and daddy for ever and ever.” Perhaps not the romantic fable my children might yearn for, but a story that is theirs, and real. To paraphrase Dr. Phil: “You can’t process what you don’t acknowledge.” And our children have a lot to process, probably more than most.

Are childhood fairy tales—like so many things in our lives—an adoption issue? Or am I, an adoptive mother, over-reacting? Wouldn’t be the first time.

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7 Responses to “Truth-telling and St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. Deanna says:

    The magic lives for those who want to believe. The best part of childhood memories are the fantasies that were embellished by our parents. never once do I remember Mommy or Daddy telling us that there was no Santa! That would be like them saying that there was no food in the fridge, it just wouldn’t be true! We continue to nurture the fantasy side of our children at every chance we get! You are never to old to believe! As a matter of fact, I think that Seamus is up to his old tricks and tomorrow’s milk will once again magically turn green! And as for Mateo, like us all, when he comes to his own conclusions, it will be okay and he will smile every time the holiday comes around, relishing in his good memories, no matter what holiday! And he will probably feel the similar guilt as he tells HIS children about tiny fairies, sweet-toothed rabbits, benevolent Santas and mischievous leprechauns!

  2. Sam says:

    To your question in paragraph two, the one you answered “A dreary one?” The answer that came to my mind was “A Jewish one.” :)

    No wonder I turned out so neurotic! :)

    Jini sent me to your blog. Hope you are doing well! Great to see you in December.

  3. Jessica says:

    Hi Deanna: So glad we can share our childhood wonder. As I said at the end of the blog, I do tend to over-react! But I was being honest too. It’s an issue I grapple with, even around Santa Claus. Thanks so much for responding.

    Hey Sam: Why didn’t I think of that!? I apologize. Thanks for checking out my blog. Love yours~ Great to see you and your lovely daughter, too.

  4. Heidi says:

    I think it’s the Irish in you that makes you worry about these little white lies. Or the Catholic Church. I learned something interesting last night on TV. Did you know that the reason Irish dancers don’t move their upper bodies is due to a prohibition from the Church (? year). It was considered to be excessively lewd if one’s top was wiggling around. Movement of the feet was OK–and how they move. By the way, your photos are so beautiful!!

  5. Jessica says:

    Fascinating, Heidi. I didn’t know that about upper body movement, but it makes perfect sense. You’re right about the Irish in me. How can it not have an impact, given that my dad is first generation and every family gathering ended in bagpipes and Danny Boy? Glad you like the photos. Thanks for looking!

  6. Lorrie says:

    How interesting to contemplate the issue of truth-telling through the additional prism of adoption. Friends of mine who adopted their daughter were FAR more conscientious than I, who was able to have my kids the oblivious way, would ever have been. They carefully found excellent homes for 13 little ones that resulted from their pet hamster’s unexpected pregnancy, processing every question and nuance about the baby hamsters with their daughter.

  7. Jessica says:

    Fascinating about the hamster, and not at all surprising! We adoptive parents do tend to think things through and consider multiple consequences of our actions… :)

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