When I was five or six I took a Popsicle out of the freezer and ate it in the middle of the night and told my mom I was sleepwalking. Hmmm — is this true? Did I really do such a thing or am I remembering that I thought about doing it. I don’t ever remember cruising around the house in the middle of the night.
My son says that his sister has a poopy diaper, when in fact it is his diaper that needs a changing in a very big way. I Googled lying and toddlers and discovered that lying starts very early on; it’s a pretty brilliant way to get around in your world and it’s pretty savvy that my boy doesn’t blame the obvious smell on his dad or the dog — or me.
So now I’m trying to think of the earliest I remember lying and I know I lied as a child. I certainly remember lying as a teenager and then I remember being caught by my parents and adamantly refusing to back down.
I was a young teen — 13 or 14 or so — and was going to walk around the neighborhood with my friend (really — we would walk around a nothing-happening-neighborhood and do nothing but walk), so I told my folks I was babysitting. I babysat almost every weekend for a dollar fifty an hour and I was a pretty good kid so there was no reason to think this particular weekend was any different than others.
But it was — and some odd intuition radar detector went off and my mom said, “Who are you babysitting for?” I came up with a name and my mom asked to call it. Um — whoops. I refused to give them the number, (Duh — I didn’t have one) and they sent me to my room and I think told me to fess up and tell the truth and I didn’t. I just dug my heels in and stuck to the lie as if it was truth. I did a beautiful indignant act.
Amazing how sometimes people caught in an obvious lie just keep b.s.ing away.
In the book Nurture Shock, the author talks about studies of kids’ lying and how it’s really a fairly sophisticated tool and usually socialized out by age six or seven. Not that they never lie, but that they just use it when it’s appropriate — such as when one wants to walk around a do-nothing-neighborhood with their friend after bedtime. Or when they really really want a Popsicle that is sitting in the freezer.
My earliest lie? I can’t remember, but I’d be curious to know what it was. I’m going to think on it. Yours?