Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To Tell the Truth

The Pumpkin has a very active imagination. She loves to make up songs, stories, names and, well, everything. She is taking drama class again this year, and she loves to pretend to be things. Most often lately she's wanted to pretend to be a teacher and I am the mom teacher, which is a cute idea.

She also loves to be silly and does things just to make people laugh. Part of her silliness is making up funny things, combining her love of thinking up things and being silly. She comes up with all sorts of things, and I'm constantly amused, as is Londo and the Pookie.

But it can be hard to figure out exactly what to believe sometimes. I know what she makes up when I'm right there (she is not really marrying her brother), and I can also guess quite a bit of what's made up about school (they do not have a classroom horse so they can learn about taking care of horses). But sometimes there are stories she tells that I don't know if they are true or not.

And just to keep me completely confused, she either doesn't understand the concept of "true" or thinks it means something it doesn't. Because after she told me the story about the classroom horse? She looked at me, nodded her head and said, "It's true." One time she even said, "True story"! Kids these days learn that internet speak early!

One thing that drives Londo crazy is when people lie to him. So he's worked to explain what is true versus what is a lie to the Pumpkin for years. She either isn't getting it or is pushing her boundries to see what stories she can get away with. Either way, it can be frustrating for all involved.

If we can't believe her when she says something is true, then it become really hard to trust that she's doing what she should be. For example, if we ask if she washed her hands after she used the potty, we've heard her insist she has even though we saw her NOT do it. But other times, she insists to the point of tears that she has and we don't know if she has or not, which must be extremely frustrating for her if she really is telling the truth.

I always keep in mind a phrase one commenter on Ask Moxie who was a teacher would say to her students' parents: I'll believe half of what the kids say happen at home if you believe half of what they say happen at school.

I know it's a normal development phase, and the book Nurture Shock claimed that the ability to lie shows intelligence in children. But it's still frustration.

On the bright side, she does have an amazing imagination and tells very interesting stories and comes up with very creative games. That's the part I concentrate on, even when she tells me that she truly had the toy first, not her brother, when I know she didn't. Who knows what that girl of mine is going to come up in her life? I can't wait to find out.


Cloud said...

That would be frustrating! We have this to a far lesser degree. Our Pumpkin makes games up, but for the most part, she is fairly truthful (although, not always). But we get negotiation on everything. Which drives me nuts.

So I guess I'm saying- I feel Londo's pain!

Claudia said...

I don't remember how old Pumpkin is, but I think the 4-year-old book from Ames and Ilg says that yes, this is normal, and either they or some other book said to acknowledge that they wish it were true, but you can see that's not the case. Please rectify in whatever way it needs to be.

Likely she'll grow out of it, and soon.

songbird said...

I wonder if "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" would help her understand the difference between lying and truth?

Bisbink said...

We are going through this as well. Most of the time it is harmless, such as yesterday's story about being the first one on the firetruck at school, and then being taken for a ride in it. The firetruck at school was true, but the ride was his imagination. However, there are times when I don't know what to believe. He has already pulled the.. "I don't feel good and can't go to school." That one is really tough. I don't want to discredit him and say you are fibbing, and need to go to school. I kept him home one day at the end of last month because of this, and he seemed fine all day. I decided that in the future he has to be running a fever or throwing up in order to stay home.

My husband and I also find this phase very frustrating, and really need to make an effort not to keep telling him he is fibbing. I guess we just need to believe him when he says he has washed his hands after using the potty.

hush said...

I was going to say "remember the chapter from 'Nurture Shock' on lying?" - like you said, highly intelligent kids are more prone to it.

I don't often know how to respond to this behavior from my own DS, because like @Londo, I personally hate lying and in general don't want to encourage it. I'm wary of overreacting.

And when I think about it a bit further, I also feel that knowing how to lie effectively is a pretty damn useful life skill (think of history, and the amazing people who hid Jews or slaves in their homes. Their "lies" saved lives.) We just want our kids to use their deceptive powers for good and not evil. ;)

mom2boy said...

Tate lies about flushing the toilet all the time. I have no idea why. I just say okay well flush it again so I hear it this time. And he already uses I don't remember when he just doesn't want to talk about something. I don't know if that's better or worse than making up a lie.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this. Libra is a born storyteller - he gets it from me - but it frustrates my partner to no end because he cannot abide lies either. We have been teaching Libra the concept of time, which has worked a little. Now he can at least say "I already brush teeth last night," and we can say "Yes, Libra, but now it's morning and you need to brush them again," instead of just getting a useless back-and-forth of him insisting that he has brushed when we know that he hasn't.

The tall tales, though, I'm less sure what to do with. I pad stories and just plain ol' make stuff up all the time - some of that they even call "writing fiction" - so it doesn't seem to be as much a problem to me as it does to my partner. It's something we're figuring out as we go.

Samantha said...

Oof. My older is well and firmly in this stage. He loves big words, so he's learned the word fiction and now I can ask, "Is that a fantastically creative FICTIONAL story, bud?" When said with a big grin this invites him to own up to having said something creative and imaginative instead of pressuring him to confess to a lie (since that is likely to lead to denial and more lies to my face, ugh). He also understands that trust=privileges and more freedom so sometimes a reminder that he wants me to trust him helps. This reminder usually has to be a concrete example of a freedom he has and how he earned it/that one time he lost it...and sometimes I just shake my head and wait for him to grow out of it.

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