liar, liar, pants on fire

I have always taken solace in the fact that while my children can be total handfuls, they do not lie. I figured it was a maturity thing, and the day would come when they could lie to my face without compunction. But up until now, they have had a complete inability to do so, even when they knew the truth was not something I wanted to hear.

MOMMY: Cooper! Did you dump out this hot cocoa all over the floor?
COOPER: (his face crumpling, in anticipation of what is to come) Ye-essss…. (abject sobbing)

But those halcyon days are, apparently, over. As of this week, all three of my children have become pathological fibbers. Exhibit A, from yesterday morning:

MOMMY: Fergus, did you brush your teeth?
FERGUS: Yup.

His toothbrush is completely dry.

MOMMY: Fergus, I KNOW that you didn’t.
FERGUS: Why? Were you wooking?

I convinced him that it was my mommy superpowers of perception that tipped me off, and that I had seen him through the door.

MOMMY: We don’t lie in this house. What should your punishment be?
FERGUS: (not too concerned) Hmm. I not sure.
MOMMY: How about we say no TV show before school today?

Fergus felt that this was excessive. I disagreed. It wasn’t the lack of tooth-brushing that got me, it was the baldfacedness of his denial.

Cooper overheard me talking to David about this, and as the eldest, felt obliged to put in his two cents:

COOPER: Mommy, let me just tell you one thing. If you wonder if Fergus is telling a lie, don’t wonder. Because he lies ALL THE TIME.

He was being a tattletale, but I couldn’t resist.

MOMMY: What does he lie about, Cooper?
COOPER: Well. Every time he says I hit him? It’s a lie.

Clearly, Cooper was himself turning out to be an unreliable source. Then, this morning, Exhibit B. Cooper had not seen bath water in a couple of days, so I shooed him off to the shower while feeding his sister. Ten minutes later, he emerges in a towel.

COOPER: I took my shower, Mommy!

He is completely dry. His hair has a few wet spots on top, apparently added in haste from the bathroom sink.

MOMMY: No you didn’t.

COOPER: Yes I did, Mommy! Look, my hair is wet.

MOMMY: Your hair is like one percent wet. I don’t think you can take a shower and have your hair only get that wet.

Cooper’s eyes dart around madly, searching for a backup story.

MOMMY: I think you’re lying to me.

COOPER: (sighing heavily, and returning to the bathroom) Ohhh-kayyy.

Anyone want to tell me what the hell this is about? And how long have they been opting out of showers and tooth-brushing? Are they really such onerous tasks, so oppressively burdensome, that my children need to resort to subterfuge?

Maybe they learned this from Maddie. She’s been lying for months now:

Maddie stands pushing against our coffee table, red-faced.

MOMMY: Maddie, are you making a poopy?

MADDIE: NOOOO!!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica May 27, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Hilarious! I don’t think we’ve hitting lying at our house yet, but I’m sure we’ll get there. Good luck!

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themrs May 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm

ugh! we’re in the thick of the lying also. my problem is that i can get them to not lie, to some degree, for fear of consequences. but i want them to not lie because it’s wrong! is that too much to ask? (my husband says yes)

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Mollie May 27, 2009 at 8:29 pm

FWIW, I actually had a similar conversation with Cooper a week or so ago on the topic of hair-washing. “OK, we just have to wash your hair and then it’s time to get out.” “I already did.” “I…don’t think that’s true.” “Yes it is! I really did wash it!” “It’s barely even wet.” Then, very earnest: “My hair dries really fast.”

Rather than argue with this, I just said, Fine, but I’m going to wash it “again.”

I think it has more to do with boundaries and testing and so on than it does with hygiene. There are only so many things they can control, after all…

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CD May 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm

This post made me remember the many many times that I lied about brushing my teeth or something else silly as a child (though I did quickly learn to wet the toothbrush under the sink before lying about it). I can’t say why I did it, but I did. For what it’s worth, I’m now a pretty well-adjusted, honest person who survived her days of unbrushed teeth with no cavities (something I attribute to genes more than my dental hygiene).

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Shannon May 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

My 4 year old lies often as well. We couldn’t decide what to do about this issue when my husband remembered something our psychology professor told us she did with her 5 kids. She told them that when little kids lie their heads smell bad. So when my daughter comes to me and I think she’s lying, I tell her to let me smell her head. If she’s lying she’ll often tell me no she won’t let me, or she’s sprayed hair spray/lotion/perfume in her head and then I know she’s lying. when she’s trying to prove she’s not lying she’ll tell me to smell her head. 🙂 It works out really well for us.

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Amy May 28, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Shannon I am totally trying that. Whether or not it works, it sounds like it will be hilarious to try.

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Roxane B. Salonen May 29, 2009 at 3:27 am

Amy, all I know is that, I think, it’s a normal phase. I remember lying about brushing my teeth. Natural consequences are good. I got my first cavities as a result. Didn’t like the shot in my mouth. Wasn’t worth it. Starting brushing after that. Haven’t skipped a day since. They’ll learn. We did. 🙂

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Kelly June 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm

This was so funny! I remember going through this with my older ones. We are trying to potty train my daughter at home and they are training her at school. If I ask her if she is poopy or if she is wet, she’ll look at me and say, “No mommy, I dry, I not a baby, I a big girl”. I know by the smell she isn’t telling the truth but she refuses to admit it. One time she even told me that her sissy did it!

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