My daughter is a liar. She’s no different than anyone else, I suppose. Everybody does it. It’s like masturbation. But already I digress. Masturbation is another post altogether — likely something I’ll save for Christmas morning.
Anyhow, my daughter has begun lying in the interest of self-preservation. I’ll be in my office, laboring over the tonal strengths of verb choices when I hear the sounds of flesh sharpening flesh, which is closely followed by the guttural squeal of my two-year-old son. When I step into the next room to investigate, I find my son crying crocodile tears and my daughter playing with a toy that is suspiciously designed for not just a two-year-old, but a two-year-old boy at that.
Inquiring into the matter — a simple “What happened?” — gets the same response from my daughter every time: “Nothin’.”
I shift my interrogation tactics and ask the same question of my son, to which he responds: “Cha-ree hih meh!”
I follow up: “Charlee, did you hit him?”
She retorts: “Nope.”
This is when I ask Sam where he was hit, and he points to his face, which seems to have been branded with a stigmata in the exact shape and size of my daughter’s hand. A little more good cop/bad cop gets Charlee to fess up to the crime. Time out is assigned, as are the requisite hugs, kisses, and apologies.
I don’t mind the brawling so much, but the lying really bothers me. Lying, of course, has its place — poker, dating, magic tricks, taxes, (blogging?) — but as in so many other scenarios, the rules should not be broken until they’ve been mastered. And my daughter has little mastery over the truth. She still believes Oswald acted alone. Kids are so dumb.
Anyhow, we’ve begun discussing truth, honesty, deceit — we’ve even delved into subjectivity and the difficulty of absolutes. My wife says this is too advanced for a pre-schooler, but my daughter can already work the ipad better than all of her grandparents, so I’m gonna keep on keeping on.
The problem with encouraging kids to tell the truth is that they don’t have much of a filter. Their consciousness is directly connected to their mouths with all the censorship of a Las Vegas porn convention. Consider this disaster from a recent trek into Costco. We turned down the frozen foods aisle — it’s summer time, which means it’s fudgecicle time — and ran into a woman who was probably in her fifties. This was a large woman. Not a full-figured woman (which I happily endorse — can I get a witness, Christina Hendricks?) but an overflowing woman. A woman who punishes seams and elastic, making them work so hard for a livin’.
As this woman pushed her cart past us, Charlee gave the woman a once over, then looked at me and said, “Daddy, that woman is really fat.” Now, notice the lack of exclamation mark in that line of dialogue. Her observation was casual and matter of fact. It was not saddled with mockery or malice. It was very Dick and Jane: “See the woman. See her groceries. See her jiggly chin.” No judgment. No scorn. Just the facts.
The woman looked away. Charlee didn’t offend her; rather she embarrassed her, and probably did a number on her feelings and self-worth. Certainly, I sympathized with the woman. I don’t — as a general rule — champion unnecessary suffering. But let’s put this woman’s feelings on the back burner for a moment. Clearly, my daughter has a lot to learn about decorum, but for today, let’s just bask in the rapturous glow of her dazzling honesty.
Please list your children’s lies and naked truths in the comments section. Best truth gets a Cadillac. Best lie gets a set of steak knives. Also, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE and share lest my daughter call you out in the frozen foods section of Costco.