Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Liar Pants

Don't worry. I'm not about to brag about my daughter's astronomical GPA. Or her supermodel good looks. Her hall of fame athleticism. Or her selfless devotion to those less fortunate. 

Sure, she's bright and pretty, sporty and kind. And, I do post as many proud moments on Facebook as the next mom. (Maybe more. Okay, more.) But, I'm not blind to my offspring's shortcomings.

For example, she is an utterly terrible liar.

I mean it, she's really really bad at it. Really bad.

And that's a really (really really) good thing.

When she was very little, I was traveling with colleagues to see some clients. One was the father of two girls slightly older than mine. The other didn't have any children. He listened to some of our stories (it was a long business trip) and shuddered. "I can't imagine having kids," he said. "It sounds so hard." Then, after a moment he shrugged and said, "I guess the main thing is never to lie to them."

The other parent and I almost choked on our airport coffee.

"Oh nooooooo," I exaggerated laughing, "We neverrrrrr lie to them."

"Never never," laughed my colleague.

"Never never never," I agreed, "Except ... like, always."

There are the standard, society-supported fictions. You know, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy. Then there are the situational ones: "I'm sorry, honey, Ben and Jerry's ran out of chocolate ice cream." Or, "Boo Boo Kitty went away to cat sleepover camp." 

Or, "It isn't whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game." 

Hmmmm. Yeah, that rings true in the adult world, doesn't it? 


Anyway, children grow up surrounded by lies — well-meaning lies mainly, but lies nonetheless. Then they start telling them. Some at a younger age than others. I was at a board meeting yesterday and heard about someone's daughter who, at a mere two-and-a-half, has already effectively pulled the wool over her daycare teacher's eyes. "Why is she wet?" her mother asked when she picked her up. "Oh," she was assured, "She sat in a puddle. She told me so." 

You can probably fill in the rest of the blanks.

Did I mention the little tale-teller is two-and-a-half? Oh boy!

Meanwhile, my daughter, at seventeen, is still a fairly flimsy fabricator. Her powers of deception are not as keen as they might be.

And I am glad on't.

Just last week, I sent her off to her job at the stable with a container of yogurt and a plastic spoon. It was a rather desperate attempt to get her to eat something, anything, in the morning other than a chocolate chip muffin. She returned home with a tragic tale of grief and loss. The yogurt, alas, did not fare well on the journey. By the time she got to work, it was melted and warm and not good. She sighed with resignation. The performance was, shall we say, a bit overwrought.

The next day, I found the spoon. Still in the car. Not a molecule of yogurt on it. When confronted, my daughter tried to continue the subterfuge but folded pretty quickly. She admitted that she had indeed fabricated the melty, warm, not good story. 

"But," she insisted, "That's what it would have been."

Well, then. Alrighty.

I had to laugh. If my daughter is going to lead a secret life, to dissemble, to feign, to ... well ... lie, it's absolutely better that she do so in regard to breakfast than where any more serious subjects are concerned. Like sex. Or drugs. Or alcohol. Right? Of course right.

Why do teens lie? According to Psychology Today, there are three main reasons. To gain freedom, to escape punishment, or to attain something forbidden. I guess, those are pretty important reasons.

Almost as important as avoiding yogurt.
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book  Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.

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