Not So Sly

Before my children were born, I was a Brownie leader for 5 years. One of my leaderly duties was to take a gaggle of giggling 7 and 8 year old girls on our annual camping trip. We went on nature walks, we tried our hands at archery (survival tip – my aim is very poor), we went swimming and we sang around the campfire. When night fell, we slept in a cabin. Or, at least, the adults tried to sleep and the girls tried their level best to avoid it.

This was my first real experience caring for children overnight. I remember being in awe that parents ever got any sleep at all. I also discovered, for the first time, how sly children aren’t. During the day the girls practiced jumping back into their bunks when I entered the room, as I did at night to check on them. Different girls took turns playing my role, knocking on the door and loudly proclaiming that everyone had better be asleep. In fact, they even asked me to participate, playing myself. Then they informed me that I’m not a very convincing Amber.

At night, listening to these kids bounce off the walls and then pretend to be asleep when I entered their room my mind wandered back to my own childhood. I recalled my own time at Brownie camp, thinking we were pulling the wool over our leaders’ eyes when we suddenly became quiet the moment they showed up. I remembered ‘indoor days’ in elementary school, when kids would stand lookout at the top of the stairs so that they could warn us of the principal’s impending arrival. At top volume, less than 10 feet in front of him. Oh yeah, we totally had him fooled.

Now I have two kids of my own, and once again I am discovering that they are not so sly as they think they are. In toddlerhood I’m not sure they even know what sly means. You ask them a question and they give you a direct answer. Lying doesn’t occur to them, because they don’t know that deception is possible. Somewhere in the preschool years that changes, and they start messing with the truth to their own advantage. But at first, they are very bad liars. Embarrassingly bad.

My babies, 19 months & 5 years
Not super-spy material, at least not yet

Here are a few gems I have heard out of my own daughter, Hannah, who is now 5:

  • “Mama, don’t look at me right now, I don’t want you to see me!”
  • “I just accidentally drew that picture on the wall.”
  • “I don’t want to tell you what that noise is, because I don’t want you to be mad at me.”
  • “The baby is crying because he misses his mom!” (This was preceded by her saying, to him, “Give me that apple!”)
  • “My grannie says that TV is good for children.”
  • Don't lick your brother!
    Hannah later explained that her brother likes to be licked

    I don’t really sweat the subterfuge at this point. It is developmentally normal, for one thing. I can understand why Hannah would try to fudge the truth to get her own way or avoid possibly invoking my anger. Who wants their mom to launch into yet another round of ‘Don’t jump on the couch’? No 5-year-old that I know, that’s for sure. I also don’t know any child who doesn’t lie to their parents once in a while. (Except me. Hi, Mom!) I’m not entirely sure how I will handle it later on, but for now it seems pretty harmless, although I can’t quite resist pointing out the flaws in the child’s logic. Perhaps I shouldn’t do that, as it will likely just help her improve her craft.

    In the meantime, tell me – have your children come out with any ridiculously awful lies? Are they not quite as sly as they think they are? Please share!

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    1. How did you get into being a Brownie leader without kids? I always saw the leaders as parents of the daughters. At least that’s what my Mom did.
      I don’t have any sly stories but I can already see it in my sons eyes… he tries. And I give him credit for trying to be crafty at such a young age. Lately he’ll point at something behind me just so I can get distracted, then he proceeds to do what he wants behind my back. Tricky little guy!
      .-= Sara´s last post ..Green Oil =-.

    2. My daughter just turned three. Occasionally she will tell us that Grandma or Miss Claudia or Miss Leslee (her teachers) say it is okay to do something when we ask her not to.
      .-= Tepary´s last post ..Baby Steps =-.

    3. My story is not about a lie, but transparency.
      My eldest was about 4. We were still nursing and sharing the family bed. Our walls were white.

      One day she drew on the wall closest to my side of the bed. With permanent Magic Marker. Black.

      God gave me an extra measure of grace at the moment her art work was discovered.

      Instead of shrieking about, “Why did you draw on the wall?!”, I asked, “Why did you do this?”

      She replied, “You always tell me how much you like my drawings, so I put this one here so you could see it every day”.

      What could I say???
      .-= Trece´s last post ..Motherhood =-.

    4. Last year in playschool Emma would come each week and proudly practice writing her numbers and letters. The number four was a challenge for her, but once she mastered it, she proceded to draw a huge 4 on my bedroom door…and then when I gasped she quickly pointed out that ‘Hannah did it’…Hannah was 2 at the time and could manage to sort of hold a pencil, let alone draw a perfect 4! I told Emma that is she was going to fib, she better make it believeable in the future.

    5. at 3 the jellybean doesn’t lie quite yet, but i suspect it isn’t long in coming.

      i’ll have to try and remember them to remind him of his simpler days.
      .-= smothermother´s last post ..Standing in line =-.

    6. I will often overhear K talking to himself saying what he plans on doing wrong. “I’m going to drop my milk.” is a variation of something I often here. Sometimes he’ll even tell me that he’s planning on pushing Em. Or if we ask him if he’s going to be good he’ll tell us “No way!”

      He has also started to not tell the truth though. I read kids learn to lie at age four (according to some study). I’ll miss the pure truth phase.
      .-= Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves´s last post ..99 Things =-.

    7. The Imp, when asked (based on the smell in the room) if he’d pooped, said: “No, Mommy poop.” He insisted it was me. He’s 21 months, little rascal, and not crazy about having his diaper changed.
      .-= Alexis´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

    8. My son had a massive sticky fart, the husband and I looked at him and were like “Was THAT you?” my sweet little boy pats his Daddy’s leg and says “Noo that was you Daddy” …umm sure!

      .-= Tara´s last post ..TaraCain: @mommyingaround Whoo hoo! Let’s hope! =-.

    9. For a while when Angus was two-ish, if I said no to something he’d say ‘but Daddy just TOLE me’, which was funny when Matt was in Japan.
      .-= allison´s last post ..*****************Freshly Cracked (Craic-ed) =-.

    10. Those are real gems! I think little children don’t lie maliciously, and I have collected some gems from my children too. They never bothered me too much. Preschoolers don’t understand yet the value of truth and honesty.
      .-= Francesca´s last post ..What is this? =-.

    11. I love the line, “Then they informed me that I’m not a very convincing Amber.” Hilarious.

      I know Annabelle is entering the phase where reality and fiction interplay much with each other. I can’t think of a really good lie (funny), but I think she is pretty honest actually.

      What might make for a good post (more introspection on my part) is how to respond to Annabelle’s comment this morning that she doesn’t like it when her dad is at work. I’m trying to understand why dad is so worshipped; I really need to stop enforcing guidelines, lol. Anyway . . .

      this post made me smile.

    12. My kids aren’t creative at all when it comes to lying. They just do it outright. Although, thankfully, they’re still young enough to give themselves away pretty easily.
      .-= C @ Kid Things´s last post ..Happy Birthday, Dad. Again. =-.

    13. I really love the “don’t look at me”. Umm, when you say that I am going to look at you extra hard! Last night it was “don’t follow me into the kitchen” and then scrape scrape as she dragged the chair to the freezer.
      .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Discovering my passion =-.

    14. This reminds me of my days at Girl Guide camp. Except I was such a goody two shows I never wanted to trick the leaders. Geez, did I ever miss out! Lol!
      .-= Melodie´s last post ..Normal Day =-.

    15. Usually, when Naima wants to do something new, the nanny will tell her ask your mommy. she then runs to me, says hi mommy, runs back to the nanny and tells the nanny.. mommy said yes!

    16. hiding when they were filling their pants was the fist attempts at deception (it certainly wasn’t out of modesty)… and then “mommy GO!” with outflung hand as if to push me away while the #2 was being done. “Do you have to go to the potty?” I’d implore… “No” was the standard response.

      The deceits are a little more sophisticated now…. my oldest will be 13 in 2 weeks. Oh I am not sure what to do about the big teen lies yet…. I’m just hoping I don’t get all tyranical as a reaction to it, ’cause I know that never worked for my parents with my sister! She just got BETTER at lying and sneaking around and I don’t want my kids to ever have to do that.
      .-= *pol´s last post ..I hate it less now… =-.

    17. Oh my youngest’s favourite trick these days is to ask me and if I say “go ask dad” he goes to ask dad but says “Mom asked me to ask you and she said it was okay”. It rarely works anymore!
      .-= *pol´s last post ..I hate it less now… =-.

    18. Mmm, that must be a tasty baby brother! 😉

      My preschooler isn’t that quick. When I ask him something that might be lie-worthy, he just says, “I don’t know.”
      .-= Holly at Tropic of Mom´s last post ..Dating my husband =-.

    19. Oh, they try so hard, don’t they. 🙂 Right now, we mostly get “innocent” suggestions that we should have candy for dinner and such like that.
      .-= Lady M´s last post ..A Different Kind of Sock =-.

    20. How funny. Baby is still way too young for that, but I’m sure he’ll be funny when he’s older. Is it hard to keep a straight face while disciplining when they make comments like that?

      I still remember breaking a lamp when I was like 5 and my parents believed me when I said it was my brother. I still feel bad about it. Poor brother.
      .-= Maman A Droit´s last post ..Tuesday is Newsday =-.

    21. I’m just amazed that you were a Brownie leader years before having kids. Smart thinking.
      .-= Cold Spaghetti´s last post ..Fancy. =-.

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