We’ve all done it. Maybe we didn’t want to because we weren’t in the mood or we weren’t feeling well or we simply didn’t have the energy. But we did it anyway. And because we felt we had to, we faked it.

What did we fake?

You know, the ingratiating smiles, the sweet nods, and the indulgent giggles. Sometimes some of us have even lied. Maybe we didn’t feel particularly good about it but in the moment it seemed necessary.

I will admit—I’ve faked it. I’ve faked liking your kid.

That’s right. I sweetly smiled as he pulled relentlessly on my pant leg like an uncontrollable dog. I feigned laughing at his crude fart jokes. I even disguised my disgust with an uncomfortable giggle when he began excavating his nostril.

Most of us have faked liking certain kids on the playground, during play dates and definitely at loud, raucous birthday parties where sugar and unchecked behavior are the parents’ party favors.

So, why do we fake it?

We fake it because it’s manners. The social construct of our society dictates that we hold doors, observe table etiquette, and graciously endure the antics of children whether annoying or not. At least we must pretend to.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t always fake liking kids. There are many children (mine included) who I think are funny, delightful, amazing little human beings. But just like with grown ups, we are not going to like all kids. Let’s face it, some are irritating, sticky, rude, and well, unlikable.

If this is true, the question becomes do we have to fake it?

Yes. You and I and everyone else have to fake it. Why?

We have to fake it because children are not fully formed beings. They are in process, in development, under construction. And I have personally known a few rather annoying, obnoxious nose picking kids who turned out to be incredible, wonderful, tissue-using grown ups.

We also have to fake it because most of the time these often-unpleasant behaviors aren’t inborn but rather taught, ignored, or not disciplined. All of which aren’t the fault of the child.

And we have to fake it because they are, after all, just children. It’s easy in the chaos and exhaustion that accompanies adulthood to forget that fart jokes can be funny, nose picking is sometimes necessary, and pulling on a pant leg until someone almost topples is entertaining.

Lastly but most importantly, we have to fake it because we were once children and many of us have children. And we were and they are sometimes annoying, loud, obnoxious, and rude. But we were and they are also wonderful, kind, funny, and loving. We want what everyone wants, which is for others to see that each of us—children or adults—are comprised of many things both good and bad and most of us are well worth liking.

I think that if we keep this perspective, there will be a day when we find ourselves on the playground with a sticky kid swinging from our purse and as we laugh and twirl we will realize we aren’t faking it.

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Sherry Parnell

A full-time writer, personal trainer, and professor, I am the author of Let the Willows Weep and Daughter of the Mountain. An alumnus of Dickinson College and West Chester University, I live with my husband and sons in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania. I am currently working on my third novel entitled The Secrets Mother Told.

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