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Pulling Out All the Stops for Hannah Montana

"My daddy died this year in Iraq." So started an essay by Priscilla Ceballos's six-year-old, Alexis.

The essay won the girl four coveted tickets -- along with airfare and hotel -- to a Hannah Montana concert, and a Hannah Montana makeover.

The problem is, the essay designed to win the Club Libby Lu Hannah Montana Rock Your Holidays Essay Contest was fiction. "I never told anybody if it was true. I did an essay like it said to do; we did the essay and that's what we did to win. ... We did whatever we could do to win," Ceballos told Fox-TV in Dallas.

That do-ANYTHING-for-hot-tween-star-Hannah-Montana-tickets mentality heaped more on Ceballos than she intended when she thought any kind of Christmas story -- true or not -- followed these contest rules:

"We want to hear how you're going to ROCK someone else's holiday. Maybe it's Mom, your best friend, or maybe it's someone you don't even know! It's easy: just write (no more than 5 sentences) and send it to us. Maybe you are donating a coat (sorry sis) or maybe you are making breakfast in bed for your Mom (maybe next year Dad!); whatever it is tell us all about it."

Ceballos's apology didn't come until Friday morning, on the Today show. Sitting with her lawyer and a psychiatrist, Ceballos expressed regret for helping her daughter write the essay and described the pain that the media attention of the story has caused her family -- including harassment both in her community and online that has caused the mother and three daughters to leave their home.

In that interview, the psychiatrist, Lisa Clayton, revealed that Ceballos' young cousin was killed in Iraq. Does that knowledge and her apology make the story better or worse in your eyes? What have you seen kids and their parents do to get up close to Hannah Montana? Have you lied to get something your child wanted?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  January 7, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Tweens
Previous: Sibling Love and War | Next: No, Kids, I'm Right

Comments


Wow, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If you ever wonder what is the matter with kids today, the answer is simple: the parents. It is pathetic that an adult would stoop so low to get tween pop star tickets. And no, I have never lied to get something my child wanted. I would simply tell my kid that they would be like the most of America (99.9%) who did not go to HM concert.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 7, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Not that I know who Hanna Montana even is but lying about a father to get tickets?

Where is the child's real father --maybe just a test tube-- and what effect will this have on the child writing that her father is dead?

How about the mother thinking about the pain she has and will cause her daughter rather than just herself?

Posted by: Fred | January 7, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Fred, as the father of an 11-year old daughter, I know all too well who Hannah Montana is. :-)

Agree with Fred and foamy, though - what the mother did was just plain wrong. Lying to try to get tickets? Sheesh - talk about misplaced priorities.

Kids need to learn that we can't have everything in life; sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control we just can't get tickets to the concert we want to see; we can't go on that dream vacation this year or we can't have a brand new car with all the extras. That's not wrong; it's a part of life, and if kids learn that it's a better lesson than trying to lie your way to something.

Posted by: Army Brat | January 7, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I've lied about my kids' ages to get the discount rate for various gate fees.

I've also told my kids to lie about their ages when entering some web sites that require registration. The problem in those cases was that the site sent me an email requesting a credit card number for verification. forget that, just click on the box that indicates you are over 14.

Do you think I'll burn for this? The computer doesn't care if it gets lied to.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | January 7, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

The Rules did not ask for a true story, just an essay. She wrote an essay that won.

Posted by: KraziJoe | January 7, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I lied about being 21 when I was 19 and 20 so I could get into bars. I also lied for a few years about being under 17 so I could get junior lift tickets when I went skiing (hey, I needed money to go to the bars). I think that's about it.

The mother was completely wrong, and the fact that she was so crazy to get her kid(s) those tickets shows that she needs to get her priorities straight. Being the focus of such negative, national public attention might give her the reality check she obviously very desperately needs.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 7, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I disagree. The rules didn't say the entry had to be true. The girl (or her mother) wrote a story that was deemed good enough to win, so be it.
(And I don't think the fact that her cousin died in Iraq adds anything. We all have some connection to someone somewhere who has died at some time.)

Posted by: mart | January 7, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Essay = true facts
Story = fiction

They weren't asked to write a story, they were asked to write an essay about what they were doing for Christmas.


Posted by: Chivo | January 7, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

We had an instance at work where someone lied and said their mother died so they could get time off and sympathy. Some months later, the mother showed up in the boss's office - very much alive! Ooops. What a way to wreck your family life AND lose your job! Kids need to be taught that this is wrong and should face the consequences of it when they're young so they're not still lying as adults.

Posted by: get morals | January 7, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but that lady is pathetic and I feel bad for her kids. I would have loved to give my kids HM tickets for Christmas, but you can't have everything and no one is going to die because they couldn't attend.

I do not lie about my kids ages because if they see me telling "little white lies" why are they going to listen to me when I say that always being honest with me is crucial? Why set the precedent that we adults are above the rules and can break them as long as there is a benefit to us? I don't want my kids behaving that way.

Posted by: Momof5 | January 7, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I think it's sad that everyone is calling "no more than 5 sentences" an "essay".

And while the mother's actions are objectionable, more objectionable still are the dolts who've bothered to harrass her online and in person to the point she's had to make physical changes to her family's life.

I feel dirty for even commenting on this story at all.

Posted by: IAMMMMW | January 7, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I lie all of the time to get my kids stuff. I've seen other parents kill kittens to get Hannah Montana tickets.

Is that the answer you were looking for, Stacey? I mean, really. What are you expecting people to say today - that they think what this mother did is OK? That they would do and have done similar things, and witness it all of the time in their daily lives?

What exactly is there to discuss here?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 7, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I saw the mother on the Today show. What struck me was that she was unable to be honest even after admitting that she had done something wrong.

She lied to Matt Lauer when she said she refused to use the tickets. The Libby Lu folks took the tickets back as punishment for lying. They did not leave the option open for the mother to "refuse" the tickets. But she would not admit to the fact that the prize was taken away from her because of her lying.

I'm afraid that this woman still is not taking responsibility, and that is very sad for her daughter and other children.

Posted by: Kate | January 7, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Well, when I wrote essays in college they discussed an actual, real topic - not a made up story.
Was this the mom with the sharpied-on eyebrows? *shudder*

Posted by: Me | January 7, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Of course I haven't lied in order to get things my kids wanted. How can they learn to make choices if I tell them they don't have to? I also don't lie about their ages to get them in to the movies cheaper or whatever. Nor did I let them begin selling their girl scout cookies before the start date (last Friday in the DC area), even though many other girls did. But I have made a choice that I value honesty. It seems that a number of other families also value honesty, and some families don't. I am not surprised by this information--evidence has been around for years.

Posted by: good grief | January 7, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I am very disappointed that her mother never admitted that what she did was wrong. I heard her apologize for making a "bad decision", but I never heard her admit that it was wrong to do what she did. Does she really think it was wrong, or just bad judgement on her part? I'm tired of people apologizing for "bad decisons"; I want to hear them admit it was wrong!

Posted by: Lucy | January 7, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Our children learn from our behavior the most. What they see us do and hear us say will influence their behavior far more than any direct teaching or sermonizing. I have never lied and would never lie to get my kids discount tickets or meals or anything else. If I can't afford the price or can't get the tickets, I will tell them the truth and that is it. Besides, children need to deal with a reasonable level of disappointment in order not to grow up with a big sense of entitlement.


GutlessCoward: will you be surprised if your kids lie about their age to get into bars, or if they lie to you about what they are doing?

Posted by: Karen | January 7, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Lucy on this. Don't just be pc and "admit to wrongdoing"..for crying out loud. It was a lie, call it that and say you're sorry. The truth is she's not really remorseful; she's just sorry she got caught. It is sad that her family is being harassed. It's the perfect example to set before our children for you reap what you sow. If you can't be honest about small things (like a concert ticket)how are you going to be honest about the big things. Personal integrity is a must in today's dog-eat-dog-me-me-me world.

Posted by: momof3boys | January 7, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"I lied about being 21 when I was 19 and 20 so I could get into bars. I also lied for a few years about being under 17 so I could get junior lift tickets when I went skiing (hey, I needed money to go to the bars).

The mother was completely wrong, and the fact that she was so crazy to get her kid(s) those tickets shows that she needs to get her priorities straight."

Explain to me the distinction between lying to get into bars or get a cheaper lift ticket and lying to get tickets to a concert. Lying for convenience is lying for convenience - no matter how you rationalize, it's all the same. Or am I missing some nuance, LOL, WorkingMomX?

Posted by: mn.188 | January 7, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

What exactly would one expect from the kind of trailer trash that goes to that place? Were you really expecting that women who tart up their daughters to look like strippers would truly have the highest moral standards? Seriously - what's the surprising part of this story?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 7, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Years ago there was some news item about a cadet in military school cheating and getting kicked out for breaking the honor code. What really struck me was one cadet they interviewed saying something to the effect of: if they feel the need to lie and about something of so little consequence, what will stop them from lying when the consequences are huge? She's teaching her child to be shifty.

Posted by: atb | January 7, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

splitting hairs people w/the comments about whether the essay should be true or not. it asked how the person is "rocking" someone else's world for christmas. that suggests the truth to me, not something made up. then the daughter should have written about her cousin's death. that would have been true. to write a lie to get tickets to a concert is ludicrous. and that mother is an enabler. she'll end up like that mother who created the fictional online boyfriend whose behavior caused that other young woman to kill herself. other writers are correct - she sees nothing wrong w/what she did, just that she got caught. in today's electronic world, there are far-reaching consequences for doing the wrong thing. she just wasn't smart enough to realize that people could track her down and harass her online for what she did. we all have to be very careful.

Posted by: frieda406 | January 7, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

For those defending the mother by noting that there's nothing in the rules that EXPLICITLY says the story must be true: do you think she would have won had the judges known that it was fiction? Would the judges have read the entry and said "wow, here's a future Newberry Prize winner; she clearly deserves the tickets?"

Posted by: ArmyBrat | January 7, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"If you can't be honest about small things (like a concert ticket)how are you going to be honest about the big things."

the first lie my girlfriend ever told me was that she denied peeing in the shower.

There are 2 types of people: those who pee in the shower, and those who won't admit it.

So what? I married her anyway... and made babies with her.

Karen, I'm not surprised when my kids lie, and if they lie about their age to get into a bar, they would most likely tell me about it. My strategy, like any other deviant behavior, is to teach my kids to calculate the risk.

And if they gtet caught doing whatever it is, I'll let that be a lesson in poor judgement. That's how one learns from their mistakes.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | January 7, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Explain to me the distinction between lying to get into bars or get a cheaper lift ticket and lying to get tickets to a concert. Lying for convenience is lying for convenience - no matter how you rationalize, it's all the same. Or am I missing some nuance, LOL, WorkingMomX?

Posted by: mn.188 | January 7, 2008 11:10 AM

LOL!! See, I didn't lie for convenience -- I lied for social reasons and alcohol in the first place and money in the second. Hey, I'm willing to call it what it is. However. I think it's different when your lying involves your kid. This Hannah Montana thing is an extreme example -- but I can think of parents who lie to teachers/schools about why a child is absent/tardy or homework wasn't done. If you lie for your child and the child is aware of it, you're sending a message that it's okay. Which it is not.

Do I think it's okay that I lied to save $$ on lift tickets and get into bars as a kid? Hmmm. Can't I take the "indiscretion" excuse and not actually say what I did was wrong but that I made some bad decisions? :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 7, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Lying to get into bars...hurts no one (with the possible exception of hurting yourself if you drank too much).

Lying to get discount lift tickets...hurts the resort.

First one, ok, second one, wrong.

Posted by: Judge Mathis | January 7, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Your honor, will you accept a youthful indiscretion plea of guilty, sorta on the second count, waive all punishment and clear me on the first count?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 7, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The mother took the risk of lying to get what she and her daughter wanted (let's not forget there were FOUR tickets). She got caught plain and simple.

Oh, and Judge Mathis...when that underage person gets into a bar, gets drunk, drives home, gets into an accident and kills someone, I think that's wrong. I sincerely hope you aren't really a judge somewhere because your priorities are seriously skewed.

Posted by: BillyBob | January 7, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Billy Bob, read through the police blotter and see that age does nothing to make anyone any smarter or dumber about drinking and driving.

Judge Mathis is a well respected television judge - clearly he knows what he's writing about....but, the underage offender is risking the liquor licence of the establishment if they serve her...and though that would be their own fault, still pretty wrong.

Posted by: yaris | January 7, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think the greater evil here is not so much the lie of the content of the essay, but instead the role the mother played in writing it. I think it is clear from the rules that it was intended to be written by the applicant, not the applicant's parent.

That particular focus, I think, comes from the phenomenon I have noticed in classrooms where a teacher will recieve an essay written by the parent of the student. I think this reflects the same kind of outrage in the comments here: that a parent aiding a child in cheating sets a bad example for the child to follow.

Posted by: David S | January 7, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

She wins my unofficial "Weasel of the Week" award.

As I've told my kids on more than one occasion (*exasperated sigh!*), if you use the word(s) "just" or "because" when apologizing, it's an excuse. Not an apology.

Who's willing to bet that little Alexis has upset a lot of her friends with this stunt, and is probably being ostracized even as we speak? Do you think that will make a difference in her (Alexis) behaviour?

Posted by: Maryland Mother | January 7, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I meant to point out that Priscilla Cebalo was the weasel. Alexis is 6 and too young to qualify.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 7, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Lying to get into bars...hurts no one (with the possible exception of hurting yourself if you drank too much).

Posted by: Judge Mathis | January 7, 2008 12:29 PM

Hurts the bar, bartender/server, innocent people, auto insurance industry, medical/fire personnel, etc. if the person drives drunk and hits someone/something.

Posted by: Yeah, whatever. | January 7, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Unethical parents breed unethical children.

Posted by: Sad | January 7, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Unethical parents breed unethical children.

I disagree. Unethical parents TEACH their children to be unethical.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 7, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Publicity about the case led to harassment of the family, so the mother decides it would be just great to appear on national TV. Resulting in more publicity. I don´t get it.

Posted by: Steve | January 7, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Publicity about the case led to harassment of the family, so the mother decides it would be just great to appear on national TV. Resulting in more publicity. I don´t get it.

Posted by: Steve

I bet she was expecting more support for her position than she has received.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 7, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I was shocked in college to hear from a fair number of compatriots that they had lied about their school activities and details in their essays to make it more likely to get accepted.

Now we're all in the high child breeding age.

Posted by: Liz D | January 7, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

es·say (ěs'ā', ě-sā') Pronunciation Key
n.

1. (ěs'ā')
1. A short literary composition on a single subject

Posted by: KraziJoe | January 7, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I lie to score with momshells, soccer bombs and yummy mummies. I also tell my kids to lie and say they're 21 when I send them to the Kwik-E-Mart for cigs and beer. I can't be interrupted while I'm watching my stories.

As to your specific question, have I lied to get something my kid wanted, why would I? My kids have proved to me time and again they're perfectly capable of lying on their own.

[/tongue in cheek]

Posted by: Playground Sleezeball | January 7, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I often wonder what would have happened had my parents fought harder for me. Over all that's one thing they never did- fight for me that is.

I talked to my mother about the tennis lessons issue this morning. When I was a kid I was really interested in tennis and wanted to take lessons. My parents bought me a racket and some balls and told me to practice against the wall in the garage. I was terrible and I never got good like my friends. I talked to my mother today and that came up in reference to my sons classes and I was like, "yeah, I really wanted tennis lessons because all the country club kids were taking tennis, so I want to make sure my son has options." And my mother was just like, "all the more reason for you not to take them- you wouldn't hang out with those country club kids." Huh? She went on, "They were too much money for what you got. We weren't going to be one of those families spending $200 on tennis equipment only to have you beg to join a racket club." Why not? Never got a real answer- just that they didn't like tennis. What would have been different in my life had my parents paid for tennis lessons? Or going to see concerts, my parents forbade me to go see concerts as a kid, so I missed Kiss, Blondie and a bunch of others my friends saw until I was old enough to drive on my own. I was 22 before I met Debbie Harry and I realized that I missed out on something that could have been important and once it was gone, it couldn't come back. I have a friend whose wealthy uncle took them and his daughter to see the Beatles in Candlestick Park in 1966. He was like 7 or 8. I have a friend who saw Elvis in 1975. I dated a woman who saw Led Zepplin with her older brother. I had a friend who saw Duran Duran at the Bayou club in Georgetown in 1982. My gosh, how many times did I see Emmylou Harris around town when I was in elementary school? Some things, like the Hanna Montana show, only happen one year and never again. People should be aware of what they mean to kids.

But overboard is overboard and this woman is the perfect example of really terrible behavior. Where IS the father, I wonder.

Posted by: DCer | January 7, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"She went on, "They were too much money for what you got. We weren't going to be one of those families spending $200 on tennis equipment only to have you beg to join a racket club." Why not? Never got a real answer- just that they didn't like tennis."

DCer,

It may be nothing more sinister than knowing they couldn't afford it then. Or worse, they could afford the basic stuff, but what the heck would they do if it turned out you were good enough to warrant laying out big bucks? Maybe your folks still "can't/won't" admit they didn't have the scratch. Some people are like they. And you're still their (adult) child.

Sometimes parents see you as 12 and themselves as 34. No matter how far in the rearview mirror those ages are!

Or maybe not. I'm just rambling, really.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 7, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

It may be nothing more sinister than knowing they couldn't afford it then. Or worse, they could afford the basic stuff, but what the heck would they do if it turned out you were good enough to warrant laying out big bucks? Maybe your folks still "can't/won't" admit they didn't have the scratch."

-------

I'm sure you're right. I'm not upset about this, it happens to be one of those things where I end up taking my son to see other kids' soccer, softball, football, golf, tae kwan do lessons to make up for my own experiences which my parents find strange. But I mean, how does a kid know what martial arts is if he doesn't see a class?

Posted by: DCer | January 7, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

This loser and her mother were born to be Republicans. Check back in ten years. This kid will have track marks up and down her arms, if not in her eyeballs, and the mother's makeup will be even worse, if that's possible. God Bless you Mike Huckabee, these are the 'Murricans you represent.

Posted by: antipATRICK | January 7, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

"I was 22 before I met Debbie Harry and I realized that I missed out on something that could have been important and once it was gone, it couldn't come back."

Oh, cry me a river. You were 22 before you met Debbie Harry? Waaahhh!!!! I didn't realize that meeting Debbie Harry was an integral part of a person's childhood.

I was 18 before I went to a concert. I've never met a famous person. I seem to have survived, and miraculously am not the bitter, jealous person that you are.

My children like Hannah Montana and HSM and the Jonas Brothers and all that jazz. But there are plenty of other ways to enjoy their idols without going to the concerts or meeting the performers in person. I recognize the importance of these people in their lives, but I feel there are also much better ways to spend the kind of money that it costs to attend concerts. Once they have jobs, they can go to concerts all they want.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 7, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Who the heck is Debbie Harry?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Someone that DCer didn't meet until he was 22.

And the lead singer of Blondie.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I missed it, but no one mentioned the desperate, do-anything tone of the entry blurb: "Maybe you are donating a coat (sorry sis) or maybe you are making breakfast in bed for your Mom (maybe next year Dad!)." The rule-makers are joking about how you should disregard your family members to get what you want. Don't donate your own coat, take your sister's. Target your mom, she's more easily manipulated than dad. Why, why, why is anyone surprised that a selfish, do-anything plea for an essay found it's winner in a fabricated story from what appears to be a "do-anything-for-tickets" family? Which is worse, the ones who created the opportunity or the ones who took them up on it? I just hope the little girl comes through this unscathed - as the mother of a six year old, I can attest that there's a lot of fiction in a 6yo's world. She shouldn't be punished for the stupid acts of those around her.

Posted by: rachelt | January 8, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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