I’ve pretty much guaranteed that my boys will need serious therapy. This is just one of the reasons:

Sometimes, when parents are at their wits’ ends, we make up stupid stuff and tell it to our kids. For instance –

Me: Run to that tree and back and I’ll time you!

Kid: OK!

Kid runs to the tree and back – approximately 1 mile.

Kid (not noticing that I am not even wearing a watch): How long was that?

Me (with no remorse): 2 minutes! Try it again!

Kid: OK!

This little ditty got me through many difficult days. It helped me spend more time with my kids, and less time researching the maximum age at which you can return your child to the hospital under Safe Haven laws.

While this ruse served a distinct purpose, other times we make up stupid stuff to tell our kids just for fun.

Chestnut-shouldered_Petronia_(Petronia_xanthocollis)_at_Bharatpur_I_IMG_5262When my boys were younger, I told them how to catch a bird: Pour one teaspoon of salt on the bird’s tail. The weight of the salt will keep the bird from flying away. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

I spent many days watching my boys try to employ this bird-snaring method in my back yard. They would walk, spoons in hand, towards unsuspecting blue jays and finches, and then grunt in frustration as their prey flew away mere moments before being pinned to the ground by a pile of table salt.

Them: Dad! It’s not working!

Me: You’re moving too fast. You need to be ninja quiet!

(after them moving as ninja quietly as possible…)

Them: Dad! It’s not working!

Me: You need to move faster!

(after running towards the birds)

Them: I spilled my salt!

Me: Don’t do that. It’s bad for the lawn!

This gave me hours and hours of entertainment. My only regret is not filming it to show at their weddings.

People who don’t have kids might see these little drills as unkind or as baby-hazing, but I find that most parents have told their kids things just like this. My problem is…I never un-told them.

Through conversation yesterday I realized that my boys, now 13 and 11, still believe they can catch a bird by putting salt on its tail. My dilemma now is whether or not to tell them.

My teenager is at the stage where he thinks I’m a doofus and that he knows everything, so telling him would likely  result in an “I already knew that!” and further cement in his mind that I am, in fact, a doofus.

My fear is that, some day soon, one of my boys will meet the love of his life. They’ll be sitting, holding hands, talking about their future, the date of their wedding, the names of their kids. Suddenly, a bird will fly by. “You know what?” he’ll say, “You can catch a bird by pouring a teaspoon of salt on its tail.” His future wife will laugh in his face. They’ll break up. He’ll wind up sleeping on my couch until he’s 40. And it will be all…my…fault.

Or…perhaps I’m being overly dramatic. Maybe, there’s nothing wrong with telling your kids a few old wives’ tales. Only time will tell.

As for me…I’m going to grab some lunch and celebrate this Southern California weather by taking a dip in the pool. I will, of course, wait for exactly 60 minutes so I don’t get cramps and die.