My sister, 15 months my junior, is one of the most gullible people I know. Say it with a little authority in your voice, and she believes every word. Send it in e-mail form and she'll forward it to her entire address book.
I can't tell you how often I've told her that the e-mail scam of the month was debunked three years ago when it first started its round.
I've thought for a long time that geography was part of her battle -- I mean, she's lived in Oklahoma for nearly 12 years. That's got to be a contributing factor.
But after watching my children demonstrate similarly high levels of gullibility, I have to concede to the genetic end of the nature versus nurture argument.
It just might be an inherited trait.
Where it came from, I don't know. Most of the members of my family are more inclined to pull legs than to have our own jerked.
Cousin J.T., at 10 years old considered much older and wiser than my 5- and 6-year-old girls, truly had them bamboozled.
From pulling small toys out from behind their ears to appearing as if from nowhere, he had Katie and Nikki thoroughly convinced of his superhuman abilities.
"Mom! J.T.'s magic, he really, really is!" Katie exclaimed in awe.
I agree. If he's convinced them, he truly is.
I mean, they don't even check his hand before he pulls something out of their ear.
And when 6-year-old Katie was in tears because she couldn't find her 3-inch plastic replica of Tinker Bell, she told me, "J.T. disappeared it to Colorado!"
"J.T. did not disappear your doll to Colorado."
"He did. He told me he did!"
Wow. It's a sad state when a 10-year-old has more credibility with your child than you do.
Come to think of it, Katie's been doing that a lot. Evidently someone at school told Katie that a few years ago, someone, she forgets who, almost took over the world.
I told her that didn't happen.
"Uh huh! So and so (I forget who) said so."
"Trust me Katie, that didn't happen."
"Yes it did."
You know. I just don't have the energy to argue.
Plus, that gullibility works in my favor a lot of the time. In fact, I hate to admit that it might stem from me.
Honestly, when has "just a minute" EVER meant 60 seconds? Shoot, sometimes it doesn't even mean that day.
But we parents, trying to make two arms into four and stuff 36 hours of work into 24, need them to believe it.
Now, now, now, parents need that to maintain some level of control. Children need to believe their parents are confident and sure of themselves. We certainly don't want our children to know that we're making it up as we go along. That we're human and fallible.
They'll discover that eventually (and probably resent the fact that we pretended otherwise). But in the big picture, that's also what allows them to sleep soundly at night. They know someone else, someone larger than life and extremely capable, is looking out for them.
At what point did that person cease being me and begin being some 10-year-old?
I'd make up some theory, but you probably wouldn't believe it either.