Pants on Fire!September 27, 2007
When did this happen?
We always tell each other the truth in this house. We are always open and honest and I know this because it is quite difficult for me to do, so it takes extra effort on my part. And I won’t lie to my husband. (Unless of course he comes to the door for a quickie…then I’ll stretch the truth a little.) *snort*
You see, I’m a white liar.
If I don’t feel like going to a playdate, I make up an excuse. If I have to cancel a Doctor’s appointment, I make up an excuse. If I haven’t called someone back, in say, decades I’ll make up an excuse. If Fa asks if we have any more Chocolate Ice Cream at 8pm I’ll say she ate it all, even if it is sitting high up in the freezer. A white lie. Small and seemingly harmless.
However, the walls have ears. I am learning this.
Fa is starting to lie to us.
And I can read it in her eyes.
You can’t bullshit a bullshitter, is what I always say.
They say, it takes years of watching people lie to learn the nuances and acceptable ways to do it. Lying, they say, begins at about 4+ (hmmm) where children learn that there is more than one point of view, other than their own. They make up elaborate and creative stories to see how believable they are. Fa is a storyteller at heart. That was a given right away. But now she’s telling untrue stores to avoid “the wrath of Mom”. She lies to not get caught.
Children learn early (ahem) that stating the untruth can get them out of sticky situations and perhaps punishment if they are believable. And Fa is so good at it that I just might believe her if her eyes didn’t dart back and forth as she is telling her lie, or if her slight hesitation didn’t give her away.
I am trying not to be angry at this. But I feel like I am a failure at trust. I have spent every night for the past 45 months telling Fa as I tuck her in bed that, “Mommy loves her no matter what, and she can tell Mommy anything.”
I am teaching her the value of trust as we speak. How to trust that when I leave her at school, I will come back for her. How to trust that I would never let anything bad happen to her. How to trust that I give her Chocolate Ice Cream in limited supply to keep her insides healthy but her soul happy. How to trust that my hand is waiting for her to cross the street or to catch her when she stumbles. Or if she lies to me.
But I am starting not to trust her.
It’s fine when she tells stories about aliens on planet Saturn and how her and her teachers tried to capture them. Or how she ate snails for snack. I know that’s make believe. She also tells about believable points in her school day that sound like so much fun. She honestly sounds like she is enjoying school. The smile on her face when I pick her up doesn’t lie.
However, she’s been telling me stories about school that I’m not sure to believe. She says that no one wants to play with her, but then she says she played tag with her friends. She tells me she goes to the potty on her own, but then she tells me that the teacher helps her, or she holds it in.
Well, I think she’s holding it in. Because, she is exhibiting pain when she goes now. Like a UTI. But I can’t get the truth out of her. The real truth. I see it when she goes, that it hurts. But she would never admit to pain. I see it when she can’t hold it in and when the urgency takes over. But she doesn’t admit the truth.
I understand that lying is a major part of her brain development. It is helping her become her.
However, when does lying become dangerous?
And when do I, as her mother, caregiver, protector, accept certain white lies but punish her for lies that could put her in danger. How do I trust myself enough to know the difference?