I finished reading Nurtureshock: New Thinking About Children about a month ago, but keep thinking about some of the results of studies they report –many of which contradict previously held theories on parenting, childhood and childhood development. The section on “Why Kids Lie” came back to me this weekend when B mentioned some lie he had told me when he was “little” (it was so inane I’ve now forgotten what it was). In the chapter on lying, the authors discuss the results of several studies (including a couple they conducted themselves) on young children and report (1) most kids are experimenting with lying by the age of four, (2) parents who let it go because they think the kid will grow out of it as he/she better understands the difference between a truth and a lie are misguided – the better a child understands that distinction, the more likely he/she is to lie given the chance, and (3) lying is linked to intelligence and should be considered a developmental milestone. Oh, and (4) about of one-third kids who lie frequently at age seven are likely to continue to use lying to deal with difficult social situations. In other words, they are hooked. I don’t have any memories of either of my kids lying excessively as young children, although my sense is that B is and always has been, a bit more devious than W. Caveat: DH may have completely different memories – that tends to be the case when we compare our takes on the boys’ early years. These days, they lie occasionally – mostly to avoid tasks they don’t want to do. Those lies are easily detected. It’s almost like they don’t have any real expectation of getting away with it. On the other hand, when they have a fight and I’m getting two different stories about what happened, I sometimes can’t tell which one – if either – is telling the truth.
An incident from last spring does come to mind... One Friday night, B’s class had a sleepover in their classroom. We picked him up early because we were headed down to the lake where both boys were supposed to be racing their boats. B got in the car and announced that he didn’t get much sleep, then proceeded to detail what he did during the 12 hours he was there. I was counting hours devoted to sleep – maybe 2 or 3? I was livid. B is an absolute bear if he is really hungry or tired. I stewed for at least an hour on the drive down to the lake, deciding that B should not sail but should go directly to the camper and sleep for at least 4 hours before being allowed to do anything else. About 15 minutes from the lake, he confessed that he had gone to sleep around 11 and slept through until 6. For a few minutes, DH and I were not sure which story to believe but eventually decided that, given his demeanor, he had to have slept. It was a damn good story though. And what was the point of the lie to begin with? The child is a Master Button-Pusher.