White lies, gray lies

I read about George Washington and the apple tree when I was small and somehow that story has stayed with me. Back then, all the stories we have are Aesop fables where everything comes with a moral at the end of the stories. There is no LOTR or Harry Potter kinda adventure. And certainly no Dr Seuss. Reading about green ham can cause lethal effect to the child’s development like eating green ham. (meats when turned very bad will become green, fyi) So, I dare say that those stories, though filled with simple characters like rabbit and tortoise, ant and crow, fox and other animals, have somehow influenced me to be a little uprighteous and quite truthful. I don’t remember being disciplined for telling lies. Other than these stories, there is the Haw Par Villa kinda punishment that I am most afraid. All the Taoist Chinese temples have these huge, scary statues of people being tortured in hade by the god and general. Tell lies, go to hell and get your tongue cut off. Gambling, you get both hands chopped off in hell. Stea your neighbour’s wife and errr.. that thing will get chopped off. (Thank God I am a Catholic now or else I will get my tongue sliced and minced. My God is a forgiving God.)

Well, that is until I became a secretary where the ability to tell white lies without unconciously giving away with subtle body languages is an asset. Wow, I mastered telling white lies so well I impressed even the Bukit Aman top guns who was in my office waiting lounge. Sometimes, I tell at least 5 white lies in a few minutes. Like ‘Yes, Tan Sri ABC, Datuk HH is in. I will put you through now.’ and next minute, ring, ring, ‘Nolah, Mr Apek asking for donation, boss in overseas and won’t be back till next month’, ring, ring again ‘Good morning, Mr Small client from overseas, can you wait a minute? I am a new staff, not sure if Datuk HH is in. Let me ask his secretary.’ and it goes on, day after day for 12 long years.

So, when I am that good at telling half truths, I suppose teaching my kids this important tool for survival is a breeze. All good moms must certainly equipped their children with the art of telling half truths and also the art of ‘bodek-king’. How else is your child going to climb to the very top of the corporate/political/business ladder if he doesn’t acquire these two important skills? All the MBA, PhD (my PhD holder friend Ros term it Permanent Head Damage) and whatever degree is not enough.

Well, it is not hard to start the lesson.

Lesson during family gatherings

Mom : When you see all the aunties/uncles (yee ma, ku cheh, tua kor, tua koo) you must remember to call loud-loud hor? And wish them Keong Hee Huat Chye.

Kids : If we don’t leh?

Mom : Get smaller ang pow lor.
If tua kor asked if you like her food, must remember to say ‘very good lor’ even if you don’t like to eat ha.

Kids : Like that mah tell lie lor.

Mom : Never mind…., that one is not called lying. It is just a little white lie, to make tua kor happy mah.

Lesson at home
Mom is still zzzzz at 11 am.

Phone ring, ring.

#3 son, age 8 yrs old : Harloh (munching Twisties and drinking cherry flavoured, sugar laden, colour filled soda)

Nosy in-law on the other end : Where is your mommy?

#3 son whom had been trained : Oh mommy ah? Errr…..(looking frantically at mommy’s snoring) Ahh…err…..mommy is bathing baby, not free.

Nosy in-law : Oh like that ah? You eat full ah (usual for Chinese to ask as courtesy).

#3 son : Yes, chiak pah liau (eaten)

Nosy in-law : Wah.. you eat good-good (healthy) food ah?

#3 son : Yes loh…. Bye-bye kor-kor (auntie/father’s sister), I ask mommy to phone you later ha.

When mom wakes up, she knows that she had carried out her parenting responsibility well! Bravo, son #3! You have graduated from the school of white lies/half truths.

P/S : House rules # 101 – White lies and half truths are acceptable when talking to others but cannot be applied in conversation with your parents. It is to be used only to take care of someone’s feeling or to protect someone’s reputation.

House rules # 102 – No one is to tell lies that hurts or injures others. The penalty for lying is a whack with the clothes hanger. Lying to parents means several whacks with the clothes hanger which leaves embarassing marks on the lower legs for school mates to laugh at.

P/S #2 : This blog is filled with no lies.