Are all children compulsive liars? I'm waiting to find out. I know Anna is. I've had a few years to find that out. Iris' language is obviously only just starting to come out so it's hard to tell yet. She looks like a liar. Well she looks just like her sister so her reputation is already tarnished by association.
Although I know children do lie, I still continue to be amazed by the extent of it and how blatant they are with it. I was reminded of this last week when Anna asked if she could fill up her watering can and water the plants. I said that she could as long as she only watered the plants and nothing else. (She has a strange fascination with watering the paving slabs but each and every time fails to remember how slippery they get until she's flat on her back and complaining that someone made the slabs wet.) Anyway I left her filling her watering can from the water butt and carried some washing upstairs. Our stairs have a window overlooking the back garden so I looked out as I went up. Of course I saw Anna doing something she shouldn't be doing. I opened the window
- Anna, what are you doing?
- Watering the plants.
No hesitation, no quick check over her shoulder to see if I was watching.
- Anna I can see you pouring the water over your dolly's head. She is not a plant.
One of her most frequent things to lie about is names. Generally her own but sometimes other peoples. She once told an old lady in a shop that my name was John and that Iris was called Anna. On this occasion she refused to give her own name. When giving herself a fake name she tends to go for a reasonably normal name but occasionally she will make up a name. This is always good fun because it's a good test of the person she is talking to; sometimes they smile and nod, sometimes they ask me to repeat it, so I have to go along with the lie and on one occasion they turned to me and said something along the lines of "That is an unusual name, what made you choose it?" There is no way of answering that question without looking like a lunatic.
Another day we were out at the zoo and she met a boy. Anna strolled up
- Hello, I'm Arly. What's your name?
- My name is Benjamin.
They spent the next 20 minutes playing together. After a while I said it was time to go and Benjamin's dad thought the same. As we turned away Benjamin shouted
- Bye Arly
Just as his dad said...
- Come on Joseph time to go now.
Joseph? What?! He was doing it too! Benjamin wasn't his real name! Have I missed something here? Has playground etiquette changed since I was a boy? Has stranger danger moved on? Are children now taught from an early age to use fake names when in public? What are the chances of two children bumping into each other in a playground and both lying about their names without hesitation? She did bump into Benjoseph again later that day and they realised that if they got really close to the cheetah enclosure and ran up and down that the cheetahs would chase them, jump up against the fence and generally try to eat them. Which they both thoroughly enjoyed. Benjoseph was evidently an idiot too.
She briefly took to lying about needing the toilet when were out in the car. Not long after she was toilet trained she would announce whilst we were driving somewhere, usually once we had got onto a pretty big road, that she needed a poo. Anxious that we didn't want her to poo in the car we would pull over and get the travel potty out by the side of the road. We would be there a while without her going despite being insistent that she needed to go. How much time we wasted doing this I don't know. Then one day she was sat with her pants down at the side of a dual carriageway when she whispered into my ear
- I don't really need a poo Daddy, I just like looking at lorries with my trousers down.
She lies to get out of doing stuff too. Not big stuff but stupid little things like washing her hands. Is washing hands that much of a problem?
- Have you washed your hands Anna?
- If I were to smell them what would they smell like?
- They would smell like the minty soap!
- Ok, let's try... Hmm, I think they smell like dirty hands...
- Whoops, I meant to say I forgot to wash my hands with the minty soap! Silly me.
Stop backtracking Anna, you can't talk you way out of it now!
Her favourite lies however are the ones she tells Carolyn when she comes home. Today she told her that we had to stay in all day because she had been poorly and I had to look after her when actually we had been out all day visiting friends. Recently when Carolyn came home after a couple of nights away Anna told her that I had gone out and left her at home so she stayed up late, watched television and drank wine. She frequently answers the question "What have you done today Anna?" with well thought out, elaborate lies. Answers so far have included...
- Nothing. Daddy made me sit on this chair all day.
- I had to look after Iris while Daddy went out.
- We did sticking but without glue because Daddy wouldn't let me have any.
- I hurt myself because Daddy tripped me up.
I'm intrigued by how long it takes her school to make a social services referral once Anna starts and spreads these lies to her teachers... It's not just me though; she tries to get Carolyn into trouble too.
- Daddy can I have some biscuits please? Mummy hasn't given me any breakfast or lunch...
She topped it off with one big blitz of lies on one afternoon when Carolyn came in from work. She started by denying that I had given her any breakfast (she had Weetabix). She then said I gave her old bread and water for lunch (she had risotto and apple juice). Her next line was
- I had to sit here all day waiting for you to come home Mummy and Iris has just been left on the floor in the living room.
She could obviously tell that her lies were funny as she then stepped it up a gear.
- And Mummy do you know... Daddy made me do all my poos and wees on the garden path!
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