Thursday, October 18, 2007

Purple Cows and Purple Lies

I know I've talked about truth in blogging, but I just have to talk about truth in general today. Do you know what schema is? I do and if a person can have an overactive schema, to the point of insanity, that's me. In case you are new to the is whole schema business, let me explain.

For every bit of information that we encounter, our brain looks for links to something that already exists. For example, a few summers ago I was getting ready to peel potatos. My schema for potatos is far reaching; french fries, potato salad, buying potatoes at Safeway, mashed potatoes at Grandma's house etc. My schema for peeling potatoes was simple; my experience told me that all I had to do was reach in the brown plastic bag, grab a dirt-sprinkled potato, wash it and so forth. But this time, when I reached in the bag, I didn't just feel the dirt-sprinkled potato. As I wrapped my fingers around it, I felt something that had a little "give" in the palm of my hand. So after pulling the potato from the bag, I turned it over. I jumped, yelped and shook my hand furiously, dropping the potato. What caused such a frantic moment? A potato bug. In all my years of experience, I'd never encountered a potato bug ON a potato. So now my schema for "potato" had a new brain-link. Now when I take a potato from the bag, I do so differently because my schema has changed. Get it? Did that make sense? now that you (maybe) understand schema, you will understand why when I read the word purple and cow together today it made me think of something familiar.

When our kids were small, the trip to the beach was excruciatingly painful. Potty breaks, snack breaks, wiggle breaks, kids who were too tired to sleep; it all added up to a rather miserable trip to the coast, but once we got there, the rewards were great as we all enjoyed the sand and sea. Tillamook, Oregon is a short distance from our destination. And Tillamook is, of course Cow Country. So with our kids at their crankiest, having been on the road for nine hours and in the car for seven, we came up with a little white lie that was actually purple.

"I'll give a dollar to the first one to spot a purple cow." I'd say, interrupting their whining.

Suddenly the car was quiet as they squinted and pressed their noses to the window.

Once they spotted the ocean, they forgot about the challenge until the next year. Every year it was the same and somehow they never spotted the elusive purple cow, though they came close a few times.

One year, my son who was about ten, and far beyond the age of understanding true-cow-color, said, "Mom, is there really such a thing as a purple cow?" So apparently lies in small doses are tolerated quite well by little people. What a fun memory though. Some day I hope to have grandchildren that I can lie to. But until then, I'll have no fun at all...and that's the truth.


Ritergal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritergal said...

I am here to confirm that it is indeed great sport to lie to grandchildren.

During a visit when our older two were about 6 and 8 (half their lives ago), their mom fixed cauliflower for dinner.

"Oh yuck!" they squealed, to no avail. All they got were orders to eat it up, "or no dessert!"

A light went on in my head. "You like broccoli, right?"

"Yes," they answered, looking at me rather strangely.

"Cauliflower is white broccoli."

They looked at each other in confusion. Then they tried a tiny nibble. Then they gobbled it up.

Their mom heard this interchange. She didn't dare contradict me, because they were doing as they'd been told, for whatever reason, but you should have seen her glare! I just shrugged and smiled. They are botanically related, rather closely.

She got over it, and the kids still eat the yucky stuff. I'll have to ask if they remember that.

May your lies be as much fun.

Karen L. Alaniz said...

ritergal- that is so funny. Yeah-they're not really white lies. White is so sterile...these kinds of lies are definitely not so boring. Fun story. Thanks!