Thursday, September 4, 2008

Truth and Lies

I know that as a general rule, children in the age range of four to eight are not that great at telling the truth. More precisely, they tend to make up things and try to pass them off as truth. In our family, we call these "whoppers". My kids have told some pretty creative ones.

There was the time Niall (age 6) told the aid in his classroom about the bats. That would be the living, flying variety. Thanks to my husband, our boys are rather obsessed with hunting. They just wish there was something they could hunt - preferably something besides the cat. So Niall apparently invented his own hunting adventure and shared it with Mrs. P. She came up to me after school when I was picking the boys up and wanted to know about the bats.

Me: What bats?

MP: The ones Liam and Niall have been hunting.

Me: Hunting?

MP: Yes. Niall tells me they have these bat traps - that they made themselves - and that they hang them up to catch bats.

Me: Oh really. Then what happens?

MP: Well, the bats are very dangerous, but the boys shoot them with their bows and kill them. Niall says they do this all the time and have killed hundreds.

I could see that Mrs. P was fully enjoying this story. Women like her belong in elementary schools properly appreciating children. It turns out she had done everything she could to get Niall to admit that just maybe, the story wasn't exactly true. No go, he stuck to his guns.

Me, being the concerned parent, decided that something must be done. My child cannot get away with telling a whopper when an adult has called him on it. These principles must be taught, right? So I immediately descend on Niall (we're still at the school) and ask him what he was doing telling Mrs. P. that he hunted bats. Panic struck his adorable six yr old face at being caught in his lie, and momentarily my reserve shook. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Well?

Niall: (tears falling, head hanging, sobs starting.) I don't knowwwww.

Me: (feeling really bad, but also thinking I must stick to my plan and teach him to tell the truth) Did you just think it sounded really cool?

Niall: Yeah. (more pathetic tears as his eyes dart around to make sure no one can tell he's crying)

Me: Well, you have to tell Mrs. P. the truth, and apologize for lying. It's okay to make up cool stories, but if they aren't true and people think they are, you have to tell them the truth. Especially if they ask you "is that true."

Poor little Niall suffered an all out anxiety attack at the thought of this confrontation. He was so stressed out about it, we finally decided he could write her a letter and give it to her the next day. He was very sweet about it, and very brave, and I was very proud of him when he got in the car the next day and announced he'd delivered it first thing.

Besides, it could have been worse. When Liam was that age he told his whole class his dad was in prison. Why prison? Couldn't he have just said jail? (Neither were true by the way, but prison just sounds so much worse!) I'll take bats over the smirching of our good names any day!

Anyway, today Niall had to make another confession. After blaming his poor little cousin Harrison for something - swearing he had seen the offense committed - it turned out he'd been *gasp* lying. He was distressed, it's true. Sheer heartbreak had caused the blunder. But alas, a lie is still a lie and a confession was in order.

I would just like to say that my little Niall is growing up. He panicked - but only a little. Tears welled, but they didn't fall. And best of all, no letter was needed. We called, and he humbly apologized with a very determined look on his still adorable face. Thank you Aunt Annie for being so forgiving. Thank you Niall for having the courage to confess. I can tell by his determination to make things right that he is learning - despite the occasional little slip-ups.


Natalie said...

You're such a great writer! I laughed... I cried... LOL I can just picture Liam and Niall hunting bats & shooting them with their bow & arrows.

Kimberly said...

How fabulous a mum are you?! I hope I do half so well with my suddenly creative four year old...

Kelly said...

That is so funny. I didn't know they were so umm, inventive. That old creative spirit.

by AnnieValentine said...

Hey, she called you a "mum"! I really like Kimberly.

I still think you should just tell him that liars Go To The Devil. Harrison buckles every time we use that.

Whitney Keith said...

Cute! Love the story. And I am wondering why you don't have a link to my blog?????

GrumpyAngel said...

Cute story. Beautiful lesson. You are a wonderful Mom for ensuring your kids learn true principles. It would have been a lot easier to give in to the cuteness and make excuses for your boy.
By the way I was looking at your sidebar photo, and your kids are so cute!!!

Amy said...

Oh my gosh, that is funny! My 3 1/2 year old is just starting to figure out how to lie. He still hasn't mangaged to tell one without a smile, but I am sure with some more practice he'll get there soon.

Laura said...

Although I've heard that story from you before, it was still funny, in fact you inspired me for another addition to my own blog...I'll start working on it now!

Natalie said...

Thanks for being my LONE comment maker today. LOL I'm loving your Ode to the comment poems! You're a poet & I didn't know it! ;-)

Kpetes-draggin said...

Jenny, that was really great. A good laugh. I love that Nial. I love the stories that kids tell. I can't remember mine ever doing that type of thing? By the way you are a great writer and your blog is wonderfully entertaining.