Lifehacker creative producer Heather Hass told me a story about the hermit crab her five-year-old son Theodor got for Christmas last year. His name was Crabber, and he lived for two months. But the news of the crustacean’s passing has yet to reach Theodor.
It's Evil Week at Lifehacker, which means we're looking into less-than-seemly methods for getting shit done. We like to think we're shedding light on these tactics as a way to help you do the opposite, but if you are, in fact, evil, you might find this week unironically helpful. That's up to you.
“We told him Crabber was sick and needed to go to the crab hospital to get a new shell,” Heather says. “And we told him all summer that the crab hospital was by the ocean and Crabber was on a little hospital vacation, swimming, trying new shells —you know, living the life. Crabber even sent a postcard.” Recently, “Crabber” made his grand return home, and everyone was happy to have him back. Heather feels at peace with the lie: “I wouldn’t suggest doing this for dogs or cats, but hermit crabs are basically bugs.”
I’m pretty sure all mums and dads have told their white lies to their young kids at some point, usually out of convenience. A few parental classics: “The car won’t start until everyone is buckled.” “They no longer sell the type of battery that your noisy toy needs.” “Ice cream trucks play music when they’re out of ice cream.” A friend once took her toddler to the Disney Store for the first time and told her it was Disneyland—the kid had a blast.
Some of the lies parents tell are remembered for decades, as evidenced by a Twitter thread started by writer Nicole Cliffe earlier this year. People shared the lies they believed as children, and the stories are pretty amazing. (Wrote a woman named Kate: “My dad told me that in every herd of cows there’s always one cow named Herman, so every time we drove by cows we would roll down the windows and yell “HERRRRMAN!” and look for the one who looked up. I was in my teens before I realised this was not an actual thing.”)
Lying to our kids could have unintended consequences, of course. They might grow up believing false information or hesitate to trust all that we say when they find out the truth. But those occasional white lies that help us get through our days are probably harmless—and may even become the source of hilarity in the future. (“Here’s what my dad told me ... What a dad, right?”)
What lies have you told your children out of convenience?