I am fascinated by lying. Seriously. I always have been. I was a theater major, for pete’s sake. The act of pulling on a persona has always been appealing to me, and my parents are only too happy to remind me that I was something of a pathological liar in my youth. I do recall sometimes saying things just to see if lying would work, and of course can think of plenty of times I simply lied as an attempt to get out of trouble.
This may or may not be on my mind because yesterday, after I posted about our SUPER FANTASTIC morning and my caving on taking my child to school because it was so very important… it turned out that she’d lied about needing to be there.
The thing about lying is that we all do it, to some degree or another. Did you know that this guy says we all lie regularly, maybe as much as three times in ten minutes of casual conversation? Kinda makes “the truth” seem like a unicorn.
Anyway, the older I get, the more I value honesty. I don’t have a lot of patience for game-playing when it comes to communication. I have no desire, anymore, to be anyone but myself. I like it when you’re YOURself, too. And I like it when we’re all honest and no one has to figure out if you really meant something else or whatever.
Enter the lessons of raising humans: Children’s brains aren’t fully formed, you know, and their honesty centers tend to be… well… a little malleable, let’s say. Just because I now truly believe honesty to be the best policy, doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with me. To say the least.
Now, when Chickadee lies, I’d venture a guess that it’s pretty age- and temperament-appropriate for her. I’m most likely to believe her if the lie comes along with a big show of emotion, so her best zingers (like yesterday) are generally accompanied with tears. She lies to get her way. She lies to try to get out of trouble. She lies whenever she thinks she’ll be better off lying than telling the truth, even though caught lies evoke the harshest penalties ’round here. While I’m not pleased that she does this, I’m also not quite ready to declare her irretrievable, because she’s only 12, and I was once young, dumb, and conscienceless, too.
The funny thing to me, though, is that this is where raising an Aspie gets truly interesting. Monkey didn’t lie for most of his life. I think maybe he didn’t understand how to. He told the truth always, often at his peril. He’s still not very good at understanding the whole concept of tact, but we’re working on it.
Nowadays, though, as his social skills improve, so has his lying. And part of me wants to be mad, but—as with the situation detailed in Jillsmo’s post this morning—it’s hard to be upset when it represents a developmental milestone. And for him, it really is. Sometimes I turn to Otto and say, “I’m just so proud—our precious little Monkey is turning into a liarpants!” He now occasionally lies to try to get out of trouble. Most often he lies because it makes the story more interesting and he realized that he CAN. Of course, he’s still just so terrible at it, I was telling a friend yesterday that I often find myself saying, “Really? I don’t think that’s true.” It’s the kind of thing I used to say to Chickadee when she was four. And I have to try REALLY REALLY HARD not to laugh when I say it to Monkey.
Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?
A typical Chickadee lie:
Her: *sobbing* I have to be at the meeting today or I can’t get on a team and then I can’t go to competition and I’ve just been working so so so hard and I really don’t want to miss out on this, Mom. It’s such a good opportunity and I’ve done all this work and I can’t believe I’m going to sacrifice it all just because I made one mistake. Please, please please can’t you make an exception? I swear this is super important!
Me: You HAVE to be there today?
Her: Yes! I swear! Or I have to sit out until March! Please, Mama!
Me: It’s going to cost you.
Her: OH THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
On the other hand….
A typical Monkey lie:
Him: Running laps in Health would take less time if people would just DO it. I mean, I just run my laps and I’m done. But the other kids, they’re totally out of it.
Me: What do you mean? What are they doing, instead?
Him: Well, half of them just run over into the woods and start petting wild bobcats!
Me: Really? I… don’t think that’s true.
Him: Well, one wild bobcat. Just one.
Me: Honey? There are no wild bobcats at school. Nor is anyone petting them. Try again?
Him: Well, it’s a wild cat.
Me: A wild cat.
Him: Okay, it’s someone’s pet. He’s in my class and his cat keeps showing up at school. Still. THEY SHOULD RUN THEIR LAPS.
Me: I see.
One type of lie infuriates me, the other delights me. That does seem a little unfair to the kids, I suppose. Hopefully they can work it out in therapy. After they stop LYING THEIR ASSES OFF.