Truth, Lies, and the Politics of a PreschoolerPosted: May 17, 2013 Filed under: kids, parenting | Tags: Barack Obama, Lies, Mitt Romney, Parenting, Politics 8 Comments
Lately, Mouse and I have had a lot of discussions about truth and lies. She’s been pretty late to this game; at heart, she has never been the type to spin tales. She’s also previously been terrible at holding up to scrutiny. Usually I’ll just ask her different versions of the same question, and she’s toast.
“Did you tell me the truth? Yes. Did you tell me what actually happened? Yes, mama. Did you lie? Yes… Wait, mommy!” (Crying ensues.)
Lately, though, she’s been telling some pretty tall tales. It is fairly obvious when she isn’t telling the truth because she fidgets and looks up and to the side while she is weaving her web of lies. Mostly, she lies when she thinks that telling the truth will get her in trouble.
Last night, she and I were having yet another conversation about why it is important to tell the truth, and she got quiet.
“Well, mommy, but sometimes you can say it fifty-three-hundred times and it might come true.”
Does the very act of putting out your own narrative over and over again lend it life? Where is the actual truth? Sometimes Mouse’s lies are, well, a little fuzzy. When I push her on them, she knows what she said isn’t right, but I’m fascinated by her ability to re-frame the events of her life.
Mouse: My sister is sad because she didn’t know how to twirl like I do.
Me: Your sister is sad because you told her she wasn’t twirling right.
I can’t help but think of politics. One side has a narrative, the other side has a narrative. Facts, meh. Then each side goes about raising as much money as they can to yell their narrative as loudly and in as many places as possible, while simultaneously muffling the other side’s narrative. Yeah, sometimes there are pesky truths that get in the way. Not always.
Obama: Mitt Romney is a privileged business man who cannot fathom the concerns of the average, middle class Americans. He will continue a dark legacy of money and privilege that I have been fighting for four years. He does not respect you.
Romney: Obama has eroded our American values of hard work, individualism and accountability. He has lead our country into crisis by redistributing middle class Americans’ hard earned wealth and refusing to be fiscally accountable.
(Please don’t virtually tar and feather me. I’m just trying to show how relative today’s politics are and now none of it has much to do with actual facts and truths.) I see this dance play out in every major political debate, every marriage, every disagreement. We are all fighting to have our story on top.
Before this, I used to worry that Mouse was too passive and honest to a fault. I might be wrong, eh? Now I’ve got to worry about my kid going into politics. Shudder.
It is still not cool to lie, Mouse. I understand how complicated it is though. I really do.
I have seen many instances in my life, of people who tell a falsehood – large or small – so many times that it becomes truth to them. The mind is a very interesting thing.
Yes, indeed the mind is an interesting thing. I think we all do this. Or, more accurately, we all have repeated what we wish to be true, in hopes that it would actually be true. More to the point, though, is that maybe there is no truth. Maybe facts stay static, but each individual has his or her own truths.
My concern is that as Mouse gets older and more sophisticated, we’ll continue to believe that we can tell when she’s lying, but she’ll play our hubris like a fiddle. I suspect that things will be a bit more straightforward with Chipmunk, who does not appear to be on a fast-track to blind parental trust, God bless her little soul.
If anyone is going to be bamboozled by Mouse, it is you, husband. You’re a sucker for her ways.
Precisely the hubris I’m talking about, my overconfident wife.
Well, I dunno, who gets suckered into staying in his daughter’s room for twenty extra minutes every night at bedtime?
Ah, but as she ages, your Mouse will be less and less inclined to lie, because the lies will take on more gravity, and she will understand the power of those lies to impact your respect for her.
My oldest was a glib and happy liar at age 6, which scared the life out of me. She got older and learned to be an honest and forthright woman.
My second child tried very hard to lie, but was a failure. When he was six, he carved his name in a mahogany hope chest in my bedroom. I called him on it, in a fury, and he stuttered, and stumbled, and then said, “I’m trying to think of a lie, Mommy, but I can’t.”
And my third was, and is, a charming rogue who always tells the truth buts casts in a way that makes us all feel happy.
Don’t worry; it will all come out just right!
This made me laugh out loud! Darn lies, they don’t come fast enough! Thanks for the perspective of one who has seen her children through more years than I have. :)