I’m used to having people lie about me. That’s not to say that it occurs constantly, but as adults, it happens. Whether personal or professional, there are plenty of untruths spoken about us each day.
When it comes to adult lies, they’re usually done for a reason. Maybe a friend is trying to impress you with a false story from a party or the mechanic swears you OK’d the extra work he forgot to have you sign off on. Perhaps it’s Brenda at the office trying to ruin your life like she’s starring in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Either way, one thing is consistent. Lies from adults are done with purpose and a certain level of skill. They are told in order to reach goals and attain status.
We prepare for this. At work, you might compile lists of dates and emails showing that you completed work your boss might dispute to someone higher up the food chain. It takes effort to show that what is being said about you is false. You do it, though, because otherwise who would believe you?
Those are adult lies though. Those make sense. Kid lies are very different. The most obvious reason? Because they’re terrible at it. Want an example of a kid lie? This one starts with a manic shout from upstairs.
Daddy! There are no socks in my room!
I just put socks in your room yesterday. You didn’t wear 20 pairs of socks in a night.
There are no socks up here!
If I come up, I’m not going to find any socks? Seriously? What will you give me if I find socks up there?
Nothing! I won’t give you anything! Hang on.
OK, I found some socks.
That time worked out, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made that walk up the stairs only to return with a pair of socks. I’d then toss them onto the couch like an old time gambler flipping over the last card on his Royal Flush. Read ’em and weep. Socks.
When you’re dealing with kids, everything you know about lying goes out the window. Most false statements that my daughter has made get her next to nothing. It’s a matter of saying that she has nothing to wear to school, while tons of outfits sit ready in her room. It’s the time she told me she had no clothes left and, after checking her closet, I saw that 90% of her wardrobe had been tossed on the floor of her closet.
I found all these clothes in your closet. They were on the floor.
Why did you say you had no clothes?
Because they were all on the floor.
What are you talking about?
I don’t know. Ha ha ha.
It’s insane. Many times it feels like the lies being told to me are done as practice and, in many ways, they are. It’s an eight year old trying to figure out what she can say to get out of doing the smallest amount of work. I guess it’s natural. Luckily, it’s not so hard to decipher fact from fiction.
Sometimes they don’t even directly relate to her. A few years back, she decided to tell me all about how her friend had a baby brother that I didn’t know about. She said he was two years old and named Jayden. I was buying it until she told me that he was a professional dancer. When I called her out on it, laughter erupted. We still bring up Jayden to this day.
Almost all of these phony statements can be detected a mile away. I know damn well my wife didn’t promise her ice cream for dinner or that I didn’t tell her she could stay up until midnight. That doesn’t stop Olivia from taking a swing at the proverbial plate and assuring me that I must have just forgotten. I find if I stare at her silently for long enough, she’ll break into hysterics.
It takes some getting used to when you have kids. There were a few early moments in her life that lead to strange parental conversations that ended with, “Why would I tell her she could have cheese doodles for breakfast?” It just seemed so weird that a person would so poorly and blatantly lie about us. Once we knocked a few of those out of the way, we got the lay of the land.
What makes this situation unique is that, in normal life, no one cares enough about fooling you to make up some nonsense. To adults, you’re another adult. They try to get one over on you simply to advance their own agendas. To your child, though, you’re an insurmountable obstacle. They want nothing more than to be able to beat you in arm wrestling or fool you into thinking a fake kid is real. It’s a pretty big reminder of how huge you are in their lives.
I know the falsehoods morph as they get older too. I’m aware of the reality. The days of, “there are no socks up here” quickly become “I’m going to a study group with friends” as they hit the teenage years. One day the manufactured stories will be more advanced and she’ll be better at telling them. All of the practice lies she does now will prepare her for the more sophisticated ones she will most likely tell as an adult.
While I’d love to have a kid who never tells a lie, I’d also like to have a unicorn that pukes up rare baseball cards. You have to be a realist as it relates to things like that. She’s practicing her small lies now so she’ll be able to tell some bigger ones when she gets older. But I’m also practicing how to spot the little lies now too. By the time, she hits those terrible teens, she might be ready to tell them, but I’ll be ready to catch them.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.