“But little white lies here and there is human nature. Everybody does that.”

Today is another pretty day with lots of sun and blue sky, but it is only 52˚ and won’t get much higher, perfect weather for errands, and I have three.

When I was a kid, I learned truths from my mother. She told me I had to wait an hour after eating before going back into the water. If I went in any earlier, I was courting disaster: cramps and drowning. I remember sitting on the sand impatiently waiting for sixty whole minutes. I wondered about 40 minutes or 50 minutes, but my mother wouldn’t budge.

I never swallowed watermelon seeds. I didn’t want a garden growing in my stomach. Actually, I was okay with this as we spit out the watermelon seeds in contests of distance. I was never a good spitter.

Okay, I admit I was obedient in the days before Christmas. I didn’t want to get on Santa’s naughty list. If I crossed the line, my mother always reminded me Santa was watching. I never questioned how. I figured if Santa could fly around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, he could watch me.

My tongue turned black when I lied. If I checked in the mirror, my tongue was always the right color. My mother explained only mothers could see black tongues. Later I realized that covering my mouth with my hand was a dead giveaway. My mother did not have magical powers.

Carrots gave me better eyesight which was great because sitting too close to the TV would make me go blind as would reading in a dark room by flashlight.

We were warned about swallowing gum. It would stay in our stomachs for years. Seven years seemed to be the norm.

I never believed that holding toads would give me warts. That brown cows were the ones who gave chocolate milk made sense to me. I never believed spinach would make me strong despite Popeye’s endorsement. I always thought my mother was being a bit sneaky and trying to get me to eat spinach. Even now I am not a spinach fan though I’ll tolerate some in a salad.

I didn’t cross my eyes or make horrible faces. I didn’t want my face to freeze. When I was in the eighth grade, my nun told us somewhat the same thing. She told a story of girls who weren’t Catholic who stuck out their tongues at the altar in church. Their faces stayed that way until they converted.

I never went blind, no watermelon garden or a giant rubbery ball of gum grew in my stomach. I didn’t drown if went swimming right away after I ate. Thanks to my mother, I avoided the perils and pitfalls of childhood.

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10 Comments on ““But little white lies here and there is human nature. Everybody does that.””

  1. Birgit Says:

    Greetings from the Baltic Sea, a few days off in the sunny north. With or without food, it’s just to cold to swim.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I’m envious you’ve traveled even if the water is too cold! I think you’d also sit on the beach here. The water temperature is only 46˚ here. Have fun!!

  2. hedley Says:

    “If you bathe within an hour and a half after taking a meal — that is, before your food is digested — you are very likely to get cramp. Cramp doubles you up in extreme pain so that you cannot move your arms or legs — and down you go. You may drown … and it will be your own fault.”

    Read it Kat, and say it out loud, it will be your own fault. But how or why did this goofy but much loved and obeyed swimming ban even come in to place ?

    Seems it was included in the British Boy Scout handbook in 1908 without any basis in fact other than an assembly or precautions intended to trap its reader in some Victorian envelope of safety and behavior.

    And so we sat and watched as others risked everyone and jumped in the pool and risks to trip to see St Peter or similar.

    So regardless of source, it past down through the generations, Repeated by anxious parents to impressionable children and for a while the waters remained silent

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Wow, your warning was more dire than mine. I would only get cramps not the inability to move my legs and arms.

      I’m saying it: it will be my own fault.

      I tried to get some background, but I didn’t find anything. I am amazed that it goes as far back as 1908 and was still believed through our childhood. I wonder when mothers stopped warning their kids about it.

      I watched them at the beach where we used to go on many summer Sundays. I’d sit longingly on the sand under the watchful eyes of my mother wishing I was with them in the water..

  3. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    I think all mothers went to the same school of teaching kids behaviors. In Yiddish we have a term for these time honored sayings, “Bubby minces”, or grandmother tales. The one about your tongue turning black from telling a lie is one I hadn’t heard. My mother said that our noses would incrementally and get bigger the more we told lies. I actually used to use a ruler to measure my nasal length. Also, the one about your face freezing from the nun obviously didn’t travel well in Jewish Mother circles. All the others were standard fare and my mother used them all. Did your mother throw guilt? My mother would threaten to put her head in the oven if we did something bad. I had to remind her that we had an electric stove. 🙂

    Today was partly cloudy and windy with a high temperature 84°. The flowers in front of my house are in full bloom.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      I love “Bubby minces,” what a neat description.

      My mother skipped the Pinocchio nose growing longer maybe because you can see a nose grow, but my mother was tricky telling us only mothers can see it. I chuckled when you said you measured your nose.

      That nun was crazy old. We were in the eighth grade, and our room was across from the principal’s office so weren’t too noisy. She used to tell us she’d thank God when we were gone.

      My mother too was adept at guilting us. She didn’t threaten to put her head into our oven but she would say in the most woeful voice, “Never mind. I’ll do it myself.”

      I love the front of your house!

      • Bob Says:

        Thanks, The previous owner wanted to take the bench. However, we paid them, in a separate sale, to buy all the outside furniture. They therefore had to leave the bench.

      • katry Says:

        I have always liked brick houses which are quite rare here. That bench is perfect!

      • Bob Says:

        Many of the houses here are brick veneer frame houses. They are not masonry construction.

      • katry Says:

        They still look good.

        When I was in Pennsylvania, I loved all the brick houses there. Here on the cape, I think there are one or two really old houses with brick facades. Most houses have shingle fronts or, like mine, vinyl fronts, but the rest of the houses, including mine, are shingled.


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