“Just Kidding”


When I was four, I found out something wonderful. Something beautiful. It was…


With words, you could tell a whole new story. Put together a sentence that could change someone’s day. Alter the universe. Or at least my universe.

And what if?… Oh my gosh. What a thrill. Well, what if I could invent a new truth? Form words about a scenario that had not occurred. Would never occur. But with words, I could make it happen. Imagine it happened.

And then I discovered two words that would change my little world forever.



Put them together and my new truth wasn’t a new truth. It wasn’t a lie. It wasn’t an elaborate tale. It was a glorious little thing called a “joke.” And everyone seemed to love a joke.

I reveled in this new manipulative (of course, I didn’t know that word back then) technique.

I could change words. Change the day. And make everybody laugh in the process.

I saw nothing that could go wrong with my new found power.

“Just kidding,” was golden. It was genius.

“Did you finish your green beans?”

“Yes, Mommy. They were delicious.”

Mommy looks at the plate. “You didn’t eat them! You didn’t even touch them!”

I put on my best smile. “I was just kidding Mommy.”

Mommy’s heart turns to butter that coats the green beans and turns them to mush. And I skip away from the table as an adorable vegetable-free little darling.

I turned the adorable up a notch (another power that was fading with age and the arrival of a pudgy toothless baby sister).

“Did you know that our dog is from the moon?

And he only eats rubber bands?

And at night he turns into my dresser and watches me sleep?”

Then I would grin. Wait an appropriate amount of time.

And burst forth with my delicious skill, “Just kidding!”

And everyone would laugh and laugh.

This went on for awhile. These innocent nonsenses. Fun little tales.

But the tales began to become bolder.

At first, it was just little things. Pretending the dog got out. Or there was a train in the road. The laughter I had used to receive began to dwindle.

My few short days as a comedian were coming to an end.

I was not ready to retire yet.

I needed the laughter. I needed the words.

I kept the “Just kidding” game going for as long as I could.

That is until it took a sinister turn.

I decided my little tales needed a bit more drama in them. Keep it exciting. Turn the power up a notch.

“Mommy! Mommy! There’s a stranger in our yard!”

Mom looks around in a panic. Grabs us. Rushes to hide. To protect.

After frantically searching, she comes back and there is me. Her manic four year old grinning ear to ear over how well my little joke worked.

“Just kidding!”

Mommy did not laugh that time. Oh no. In fact she looked downright mad.

She sat me down.

“You can’t say ‘just kidding’ like that anymore. It is lying.”

I was not giving up my power that easily.

“But it’s just a joke.”

“No. It’s lying.”

“But it’s not lying, because I say ‘just kidding,’ at the end.” She obviously didn’t get it. It was like I was saying, “Knock Knock,” and instead of responding ,”Who’s there?” in a sing song Mommy voice, she was instead hiding in the dark from a stranger at the door.

“Just because you say, ‘Just kidding’ at the end, does not make it a joke. It is still a lie. If you keep lying, you are going to get in trouble.”

The words sunk in. The power in them. I had been lying. That was bad, right?

I was a perfect angel after that talk.

I completely understood that I had been lying. That I had abused my power.

I was not stubborn then and I am not stubborn now.

I never lied again. Or got in trouble. I stopped telling people stories about my dog. Even when the dresser slobbered on me when I pulled my pajamas out of the drawer.

And I ate all of my green beans.


Just kidding.

16 thoughts on ““Just Kidding”

  1. That’s adorable! My thing was telling family members I was collecting for Save The Children – and then I kept it for myself! I think they were on to me, though, because nobody gave me very much – my scam amounted to something like 5-6 kroner, which is what, maybe 50 cents or one dollar! 😉 And I only did it the once.

    • Ha! That is so deliciously bad. It is like something a Roald Dahl character would do. Thank you for the smile! : )

      Have a beautiful week!


  2. My oldest is doing that now. “Just kidding!” Cute a few times, but we had to have the “no, that is lying” talk…so did you teach him that !? 😉 Just kidding…

  3. This was such a great read, Jenni! Engaging. Endearing. Just wonderful. I loved it.

    I don’t think I had a “just kidding” phase. My signature line was asking if people wanted the truth or the real truth. Apparently I just thought truth meant “story.” And people would have to press me to tell them the “real truth,” or else I’d come up with some ridiculous story (lie). Ah, the imaginations of only children…

    <3 Liz

  4. My eight year old daughter is trying out stand up jokes because she likes to be funny. The problem is, she needs to learn to not hit below the belt and not get too silly and drive people crazy, including her peers.
    I have to remind myself that 8 was kind of the magic number where being goofy is common. At this age I would bug my mom with things like, “Mom, what would you do if a flying saucer landed in the back yard,” and this would go on and on.
    Yikes! Now as a parent, it’s payback time.

    • I love that she wants to do jokes. That is adorable. I understand the below the belt thing, though. We are working that here, too.

      Ha! I just asked my husband that flying saucer question today. What would you do? I would run. Then die of fright. ; )

      I hope you have sweet dreams!


  5. Absolutely love this 🙂
    When I was in first grade, I made up a fictional math teacher named Mr Pine that would throw our homework to us in the form of paper airplanes. My parents eagerly asked about him on meet the teacher night and I was found out. But Mr Pine lives on in my imagination!

    • That is so brilliant! I love that your parents asked about him. That makes me giggle and applaud you for being so convincing! What a great story! Thank you for sharing and making me smile. : )

      Have a beautiful remainder of the week!


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