Teaching my children about telling the truth has both surprised and challenged me as a mother. I think I had the (unfounded) belief that children just naturally tell the truth, and that they wouldn’t start to tell bold-faced lies until they were old enough to really think through the process of having devious motivation, an alibi, and details to back their claims up. It seems, though, that kids (at least, MY kids) are actually naturally wired to lie when they get into hot water, or even just when the mood suits them.
Callen, just two months shy of his fourth birthday, has recently stepped into what I call the “crazy lying” phase. I was aware of and had labeled this phase only because Carina did the same thing at right about the same age. Her first “crazy lie” was that she had gotten in trouble for not bringing a monkey to preschool for show and tell, when ALL the other kids had brought a monkey, and she had brought a mouse, and so she wasn’t allowed to participate in show and tell, and sheee wasss soooo SAAAADDDDD!!!! WWWHHHAAAA! At first, I was shocked and bewildered that I hadn’t gotten the memo about the monkey themed show and tell and had reassured Carina that I would talk with her teachers. But, later in the evening, she mentioned that Ben had brought MONEY for show and tell. “Wait, so Ben brought MONEY and not a MONKEY for show and tell?” I asked her. The look on her face told me the cat was out of the bag.
Callen has been fudging on a few facts for the past couple weeks, so when he came upstairs from his nap with marker all over his face and claimed that he had no idea how it got there, I grabbed my camera. Here’s his account. This clip is about 4 minutes long. You don’t need to watch the whole thing to get the idea of what I’m dealing with, but if you watch long enough, you’ll see the sort-of confession.
So, just as with Carina, I had to explain to Callen in pre-school terms what a lie is, what the truth is, and why it’s important to stick with the latter. I explained that he’d get in more trouble for lying than he would for coloring on his face, and reiterated the idea that “mommy knows” when you are lying. I don’t know why I thought that the difference between a lie and the truth should be ingrained in their being, but it is not. Lie and Truth are just two more words to be added to the vocabulary, and it takes a while to learn syntax and proper application of each. It’s interesting to see them start to grasp the ideas and retrain their brains to use their powers for good. I just hope my mommy brain can stay out in front of them.