The 6 Greatest Lies Ever Told by Children
Children are horrible, sticky monsters who don't do a single thing that isn't motivated by the basest of human emotions.
(thinking) "How will this benefit me, right now, at the expense of everyone else in existence?"
One of the most charming characteristics these two-legged mess makers possess is their inclination to lie about anything and everything, whether dealing with parents, teachers, or even their peers. Not a playground conversation goes by that isn't littered with lies and empty boasts, habits that start to form at a shockingly early age.
"I know karate."
So, in the interest of better protecting you and your family, I've documented some of the greatest lies ever told by children, which I encourage you to keep in mind the next time you're approached by a strange child off the leash.
"I Feel Sick"
Everyone feels sick on occasion. If you spend much time on the Internet, you'll see something that makes you feel sick a couple times a week.
"Nothing can shock me anym- OH GOD NO WHY NO? HOW CAN AN EAR CANAL STRETCH THAT WIDE?"
And because they spend so much of their day literally cramming dirt into their mouths, children are no different: They will fall ill, too. Indeed, until the age of 5 or so, every time children announce that they feel sick, there probably is something actually wrong with them. But that changes pretty quickly once being sick means staying home from school. Recall that children are, quite literally, learning machines, and it isn't going to take many iterations for a child to learn that the sequence of steps ...
Feeling Sick -> Announcing You Feel Sick -> Staying Home From School
... can be duplicated without all the unpleasant business involved in that first step. From there it's only a small step to fake barfing sounds and palm licking.
"I think I got the Ebola cancer, Mom. I love you. Don't cry. You have to be brave."
"The Dog Ate My Homework"
Perhaps the most famous of childhood lies, to the point that it's now more a cliche than anything else, this excuse was used by pint-sized deceit peddlers to conceal why they hadn't finished their homework. Even if it's used ironically now, the spirit behind it absolutely lives on -- children are still dumb and hate homework. They just blame the printer instead.
That a printer eating something is more plausible than a dog doing it is yet another condemnation of the printing industry.
But let's go back to the original "The dog ate my homework" lie for a second, and have a closer look at the features that make it so famous. One, notice how it's just a little implausible, but not completely so. Dogs kind of do all sorts of horrible things with their mouths or butts.
And sometimes with both at the same time.
Two, see how hard it is to disprove? What kind of maniac is going to sift through a dog's leavings, looking for fractions drills? Cliche though it may be, this is a very powerful lie that these wee princelings of lies have stumbled upon, and you'll notice that many of its features show up in the lies to come.
"I Was in a Gang Back in My Hometown"
Because adults enjoy activities like drinking and sex-drinking, and also because we can't stand them, we often have cause to leave children lightly attended for a length of time, with only their peers to keep them company. This inevitably leads to a frighteningly quick descent into ferality, with the children jockeying for position like the pack animals they essentially are, using all sorts of saber-rattling techniques.
"I like you, Katie. I'm going to kill you last."
It should come as no surprise, then, that open deceit plays a big role in this posturing, with the "I was in a gang in my hometown" proto-lie being a fashionable gambit. Obviously most popular among children who've moved or spent their summers elsewhere, it shares some of the features previously discussed, in that it's hard to immediately disprove. Assuming the lie is bought, it establishes that the liar is not to be stepped to and will absolutely shiv you on the swing set if you give her a reason.
"Lucky for you that I lost my shivs in the move."
Older, more dangerous children will perhaps be more familiar with the variation on this lie popular among their ugly peers: "I have a girlfriend online."
"Yeah, she's mega hot. She was in my gang too, actually. I gave her all my shivs as a going-away present."
This one usually shows up when that one slightly weird kid casually starts name-dropping celebrities that she knows personally. Whether it's through a mutual acquaintance or a summer camp before the celebrity got famous, the implication is that the liar is a cool person who definitely shouldn't be shunned quite as much as she has been. The exact celebrity varies with the age group and the times; these days, I imagine it's probably preteen girls bragging about knowing Justin Bieber. Do preteen girls still like Justin Bieber? Or is it just weird older women now?
"He's still pretty hot, but yes, less so now that he's an adult."
It's not hard to see why these lies crop up. They attract attention -- positive attention! -- and for the weirder children who have trouble getting people to notice them when they're not cramming things into their noses, it's a tempting lie to explore. And it's an exploration that can be very effective, at least when it's carefully deployed, with the classic child-lie hallmarks that make it hard to verify, like distant meeting locations and a lack of photographs because no one had a camera that day.
"I would have gotten a picture, but Nicki Minaj is a very private person, and also I left my camera with her as a going-away present."
The Touch of Death
There isn't a child around who doesn't have at least one friend who swears that they know (or know someone who knows) how to kill someone with a single touch. Whether it's a kick to the sternum, a sensual caress of the collarbone, or simply reaching in and tearing out the heart, there's one badass on every playground who swears it can be done.
"Was it pigtail yank first, then chin poke, or was it ... STOP CRYING."
Brockway touched on this before, and he summarized it perfectly: These lies are essentially the nuclear-deterrent strategy of playground confrontations. When confronted by such a claim, a bully has to ask himself, "He's probably lying. But what if he isn't? Is this Fruit Roll-Up really worth my life?"
"Actually, yes. A Fruit Roll-Up is worth it. This is my hill to die on."
"My Uncle Works at Nintendo"
The most powerful of all children's lies, the one lie that binds and rules them all. It hinges on one immutable fact: A child who knows more about video games is a superior child.
"Yeah, I got all 151 Pokemon, plus the seven secret PokeMEN, so you guys should probably start anointing my feet."
And every time a kid told a lie about a video game, it was backed up by his "uncle who worked for Nintendo." By now you'll see the pattern: It's just plausible enough, and it's hard to quickly disprove. Who knows what anyone's uncle does? While you might be able to find out what a friend's dad does, there's no feasible way to find out anything about their uncle. He could be a farmer or an astronaut or a public drunk. But he never was. He always worked for Nintendo.
"Nephew, I can't keep risking my job to impress some 7-year-olds, and ... oh, what the hell. Man, do I have a weird need to seek the approval of 7-year-old boys. What's that? No, just thinking aloud. That's not the code. Don't tell anyone I said that."
He was a mysterious and distant genius who knew how to unlock every secret character, how to access every hidden level, and even the secret incantations necessary to turn any character, from Lara Croft to Samus Aran to Kirby, completely nude.
"No, this is the last time, nephew. I was not supposed to put that in the game. I have a serious problem, and you calling me every day is not helping. Goodbye forever. Well, yes. Forever until Thanksgiving."
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and, although this is going to sound really unlikely now, does actually have an uncle who works for Nintendo. Join him on Facebook or Twitter, where he'll share the secret Metroid code that lets you take Samus on a coffee date in which she's visibly uncomfortable the entire time.