Dad is a Big, Fat Liar

May 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm 3 comments

I hate making my daughter sad. So, when she asks me a question and I know the true answer is going to hurt her I turn into a big, fat liar.

Marching in the Morning

Last weekend we spent a Saturday morning participating in the March of Dimes March for Babies, a very worthwhile event that has become an annual tradition for us. We brought the double stroller, plenty of snacks, and appropriate clothing for an outdoor event in Rain City. Big Sister brought Barney the stuffed dinosaur, Little Brother had his chew rings.

It was a long but delightful morning beginning with a bus ride downtown followed by a pancake breakfast with friends at the starting point of the walk. The march was a 3-mile walk in the sunshine through downtown Seattle. The kids had a great time and passed out about 2 miles into the walk. When we got home we were all exhausted and ready for naps.

Then, tragedy struck. We had left Big Sister’s stuffed dragon on the bus.

Do You Think She’ll Notice?

Once my wife and I realized the magnitude of the problem we began that frantic mumbling conversation parents have when they need talk to each other in front of their kids without revealing a problem. When did she last have it? Did she have it at the restaurant? On the bus? Is it at the bus stop? Should we go back?

We concluded that we had no idea where the toy was and it was likely gone gone gone. Now we had to get our story straight and break the bad news to our daughter in a way that generated the least amount of tears.

In desperation I thought maybe she won’t notice Barney’s missing. After all, she has a hundred billion stuffed creatures among her hundred trillion toys. She won’t notice.

She Noticed

“Whez Bawny?”, she asked.

My heart clenched like the moment you realize you don’t have any Halloween candy and someone just rang the doorbell.

At first I played dumb. “I don’t know, sweetie pie. Where IS Barney?”

“I doe know…”, she’d reply and continue searching the house.

Over the next hour she kept asking “Whez Bawny?”, her voice becoming more frail and nervous with each inquiry. My repeated attempts to feign ignorance or distract her were becoming transparent. My daughter knows I’m capable of finding nearly everything she misplaces. I hadn’t found Barney and wasn’t making any effort to find him. She knew something was wrong.

Eventually, we had to let her know she wasn’t going to see Barney again. The stuffed animal I had won for her from one of those crane games in a local grocery store on some random weekday likely was gone for good. It was time to tell our darling daughter the bad news.

My wife sat down with her at her little table to have a talk. I busied myself by preparing dinner because I’m a coward.

A Tough Talk

“Well, honey,” she said gently, “Barney is off on an adventure on the bus to go make some new friends.”

“Oh! Maybe we can go to da bus and to find Bawny?”, Little Boo asked, hopeful.

“Well, no, sweetie. He’s off on an adventure and going to meet some new girls and boys. It was nice to have him here and be friends for a while.”

“He’s not… He’s not coming home wif us?” Big Sister asked again. “We can not go to find him?”

I tried desperately to focus on chopping carrots while I listened to the conversation because my heart was breaking into a thousand pieces. Every time I looked over to the two of them I could see my daughter struggling to understand why she can’t see her beloved Barney ever again. I made eye contact with my wife and could see she felt the same as I did.

“No, honey. It was nice to have him here and be friends. But now he’s off on an adventure to make some new friends. I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye then, but we do have to say goodbye to him now.” At this point I wanted to stab myself with the kitchen knife and just end it all.

Several more times during the evening my daughter again asked the whereabouts of Barney and each time I answered with our story about Barney being off on a new adventure on the bus. Lies, all lies.

A Better Way of Bemoaning Bawny

I have no idea if our approach was better than simply saying “We left Barney on the bus and we can’t get him back.” Maybe it would have been best to simply tell the truth and take the pain.

But making up the story that my daughter’s toy could now be in the hands of another nice girl or boy is much a more interesting and positive concept than the cold reality that her toy is possibly in a lost and found box at the downtown metro office, if it’s not under a bus wheel or some homeless guy’s head. She’s a bit too young to deal with the such a loss presented in that way.

Or, rather, I’m still so new at this parenting thing and I don’t want to be the one to deliver bad news and break her heart.

I suppose we did give her a false hope that the next time we step on the bus she might see her little toy again and bring it back home. She will likely forget about Barney soon and this will all blow over.

Then again perhaps she’s planning a bus trip in the near future.

Entry filed under: Being Dad. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. brewsurfer  |  May 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I can’t remember how many times my daughter’s friends went missing. Luckily, their adventures were short. We use virtually the same line “Tang (short for Tangerine, her baby doll) is having a sleep I’ve at Nana’s”. Works almost every time. Other times we have to distract and conquer.

    • 2. Hop Dad  |  May 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Yes – distraction is the key. But since that day my daughter has been asking me about Barney every time she sees a city bus.

      However, I do have a plan…

  • 3. Bawny’s Back! « Hop Dad  |  May 25, 2012 at 7:10 am

    […] a previous post I talked about a great tragedy that befell my daughter. After a long day out earlier this month we […]


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