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    Long Noses

    “A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt to be dangerous.”

    Alfred Adler

    It’s strange when your innocent little four-year-old looks you right in the eye and lies.  I think Pip’s experimentation with fibbing began in the bathroom.  She isn’t one to linger in the loo.  In fact, in the time it takes Pip to poop, most people haven’t even sat down!  She’s a ‘drop it and run’ kind of gal.

    My mom was watching the girls one day and was astonished when I came home and asked her, “Did Pip wipe after she went to the bathroom?”  Mom was in a state of shock.  She couldn’t believe that Pip was ever out of her sight long enough to have a bowel movement.  I had evidence though; Pip rarely flushes.

    I think Pip just has too much fun doing whatever it is she is doing, and she doesn’t want to interrupt her play with a tedious visit to the washroom.  So, she holds things in as long as she can, (not healthy; I know,) then dashes off to the facilities and spends the least amount of time possible conducting her business.  Flushing?  Washing of hands?  Calling for back-up  to help clean her bottom?  Too time consuming for our Pip.  Thus, the fibbing began.

    “Pip, did you just poop?”

    “No Mama.”  Clearly Pip doesn’t have the deception thing down, because she never hides the evidence.  Once I find the turd in the toilet, I simply ask her to return to the scene of the crime, wipe her bottom and insist that she wash her hands.  I usually throw in a lecture about good hygiene & bad germs at the same time.

    Pip seems to be coming around though.  I told her that it would be a dream-come-true if she started calling me into the bathroom to wipe her bottom.  It was the best thing I could have said.  Now, when I get the call to wipe Pip says, “Your dream is coming true Mama!”  and I bend over her with the toilet-paper and say,

    “Yes it is, Sweetie, this is my dream-come-true!”

    That’s the good news.  The bad news is that she still experiments with lying.  I was in the kitchen the other morning when I heard Fig erupt in a fit of tears.  As a Mom, you can differentiate between your kids cries; you know when your child is really hurt and when they’re frustrated or overtired.  This was Fig’s ‘my feelings are hurt’ cry.  As she came toward me, I heard her say, between sobs that her sister hit her.  “Where?”  Fig hit her own head.

    “Pip,” I asked upon entering my daughter’s bedroom, “did you hit your sister?”

    Pip, looking like the cat who swallowed the canary, said innocently, “No Mama.”

    “Pip, you know how important it is for everyone to tell the truth,” Pip nodded, “so can you please tell me what really happened?”

    “I didn’t hit Fig,” said Pip convincingly.  (It’s even more disturbing when your child is a good liar.)

    “Is that the truth, Pip?”

    “Yes Mama.”  Fig was still whimpering in my arms.  There was no doubt in my mind that Pip had hit Fig.  I just couldn’t believe she was still sticking to her story.

    “Fig, did Pip hit you?”  Fig nodded, demonstrated the hit to her head again, then burst into another woeful wail.  Her feelings hurt more than her head.  “Well, Pip, I believe Fig.  She has never lied to me and you’ve lied to me  before, so I don’t know if I can believe you.”  The truth hurts sometimes, and it looked as though Pip was really taking my words to heart.

    “Is my nose growing?” she asked.  It took me a second to respond.

    “No Sweetie, Pinnochio is a pretend story.  Lying doesn’t really make your nose grow.”  She was definitely coming around, so I asked her again.  “Did you hit your sister?”  Pip nodded.

    I think I surprised her by thanking her.  I said that I really appreciated her telling me the truth and then I went into my spiel about how we don’t solve problems by hitting.  I didn’t give her a consequence for her behaviour;  at that moment in time, I decided it was more important to send the message that truth-telling pays off.

    What will I do next time though?  We have a ‘no tolerance’ policy for hitting and I want to be consistent in my discipline.  So how will I still make honesty the best policy?  Congratulations for telling the truth, maybe even a big hug, then removal from the situation as a consequence for hitting?  It’s a bit tricky.

    I find it quite unnerving.  Is this when it begins?  I think of all the potential lies that lay ahead, about parties and drinking and boys.  Is it just a natural part of development?  I’d like to think so.  I’d be lying if I said I never lied to my parents when I was growing up.  Why did I lie?  I think sometimes it was because my parents thought so highly of me, I didn’t want to disappoint them.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to avoid a punishment, but I wanted to live up to their expectations of me.  So what is the best way to encourage your children to always tell the truth?  Perhaps part of the answer is to let them know that we are all fallible; we all make poor choices and that’s how we learn.

    Later that evening, when Pip and I were snuggled in her bed for a story, she looked up at me and said, “Mama, I’m sorry that I lied to you today, but I solved my poo problem!”

    Ah yes, my dream-come-true.

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