the long troll

December 11th, 2010

A childless friend asked me the other day if I trolled my children, intentionally giving them misinformation. Well, sure, doesn’t everyone?

As the child of parents who warned us to stay away from wild zebras living in the crawlspace under our house, and who knew we’d just take it on faith that the blue laws prohibited them from buying us toys on weekends, there may be genes involved, but I’m pretty sure parental trolling is just part of the job.

Although most trolls in our household were invented for practical purposes – “Don’t wander off from us in the park or the mountain lions might get you.” Others have been accidental. It was a popular animated movie that taught my kids the meerkat is actually a “move-it move-it”; it will be school that informs them it isn’t. My 6-year-old likes to taste each ingredient we use in our cooking; he refuses to sample the baking soda as he’s used it to blow corks off bottles. Isn’t best for his safety that we not protest that one?

Trolls that take years for the victim to realize – like the fact that blue laws never covered toys, unbeknownst to me until college when I found out that no one else was held to that restriction – are the ones kids turn to therapists to sort out. These are the long trolls.

So, sure, it will likely be years before my children sort out that mary had a *lamb* not a lamp, extinction is *different* from stinkiness, or that baking soda is basically harmless, they really need to worry about mentos or pop rocks or alka seltzer. Meh. Those aren’t really fodder for therapists. There is one long troll I’m worried about. This one is probably most universal: the great Santa conspiracy. That one is big in our house. We’ve got Santa *on video*. Oh, yes. My kids will be *those* kids. And as I make preparations to ensure we carry out the ruse one more year – reserving an unopened distinctive roll of paper for *his* presents, digging out the reindeer fur and soot to dust on the presents, and readying that video camera, I feel a sharp twinge of guilt. Is this the long troll that sends my kids to therapy?