Is there a certain age at which children realise they can fib their way out of a spell on the naughty step and telling the truth is over-rated?
I don't remember being as little as Ava is now, so I don't remember a time when, if I was caught doing something I shouldn't, my brain wouldn't go into overdrive: "It wasn't me", "I wasn't even in the room at the time", "my sister did it", "I didn't see anything", "it must have happened by itself"...and so on.
So Ava's hands-up-it-was-me attitude takes me a bit by surprise sometimes.
The other day, with head down on some task or other, her little sister Ruby suddenly and very uncharacteristically, burst into tears.
"Ava, did you do something to Ruby?"
No hesitation. "Yes. I bite Ruby."
"Ava, that's very naughty."
"And I hit Ruby head."
"Well, you know you shouldn't..."
"And I push Ruby."
And she looked genuinely sad about it, and hugged and kissed her flailing, sobbing sister, who forgave her instantly and licked her.
It was my turn to forgive Ava The Honest when she pootled into the kitchen, carrying my glasses case which had been purloined from my supposed-to-be-out-of-bounds handbag. "Here you are!" she said brightly. I opened it. My glasses were in three pieces.
Perhaps when she ransacks my bag at the age of six and snaps my glasses into bits, she will stuff them back into the case, wait for them to be discovered and then say Ruby did it. For now though, I can't decide whether it hasn't occurred to her that she can fib, or if she's just darn clever. I mean, it's awfully hard to tell someone off when they fess up, apologise and hug your legs before you've even drawn breath.
Terrible Twos comes out on Parentdish every week. Catch up on previous columns here.
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