Babies are delivered by storks and other untruths we tell our kids.

6 March 2015

Dear friend,

When is it that children begin to lie? I am not sure. As we have never had to deal with lying until now. Autistc children don't lie... 

I have read this numerous times, writers stating that this is a clear sign of autism. Autistic children do not have theory of mind so can not lie. 

Well somebody obviously forgot to tell the big lad this because after 8 years of the truth and nothing but the truth, there has been a swing in the opposite direction. So what should my reaction be? Disgust, anger, disbelief, disappointment? 

Most parents would be shocked and perhaps a little disappointed but I feel relieved as I recognise this as a significant step forward in the big lad's cognitive development. Yes, my son lied!

Up until now, things have been very simple. Did you wash your hands? No. Did you hit your brother? Yes. Who ate the last cookie? Me. 

The world was black and white with no shades, tints or hues of grey, only honesty and mostly brutal honesty at that; you smell, look at that fat lady, that cake is horrible, it stinks in here, Dutch food is better than English food etc 

When we have tried to explain that his comments can seem rude, the response has always been, why? I am only telling the truth, that is what I think. How can you argue with that?

Next there was the dancing mouse... A new pet shop had an advertising campaign which involved some poor man dancing (to rave music) on the grass verge of a main road, dressed in a fluffy, grey mouse suit. My husband and I had found it quite amusing so when we passed with the kids a few days later I said, look out, there was a dancing mouse here the other day.

 Stop lying mum, was the big lad's response. As I was deeply offended by this slanderous allegation, I had to take this further and responded that; I never tell lies. The big lad insisted, Mum you are always telling lies and went on to describe numerous occasions when I have indeed lied to him. (We had hamburgers for tea, not pizza; we didn't go to the toy shop; The little man didn't sleep in my bedroom; you said we would do/eat/play/watch later and never did!) My boy had obviously been storing up these incidents for a long time! 

As we approached the corner I was desperately searching for disco mouse and as luck would have it he emerged from the pet shop and walked towards us, so he wasn't dancing but he was there at least. I was vindicated. See Mum never tells lies...

This made me think about the kind of untruths we tell our kids.  When it comes to lying are there different types of lies? We tell lies to encourage, to discourage, to warn of danger, to embellish our stories and to save people's feelings:

  • If you eat all your dinner then you'll grow big like daddy.
  • Eat your carrots and they will help you see in the dark.
  • We're almost there!
  • There are no cookies/sweets/crisps left.
  • We'll see (always means no!)
  • I don't know where your toy/ipad/music player is! (I've had enough noise or I gave it to the charity shop.)
  • The injection/cream/dentist won't hurt! (Well it won't hurt me!)
  • I'm leaving now and if you don't come I'm leaving you!
  • Babies are delivered by storks.
  • Let's not even get started on the whole Santa/Easter bunny thing.
  • I always know when you are lying. (Tell me the truth now.)
  • Teachers and especially mummy teachers have eyes in the back of our heads!
I thought I was a honourable person but obviously not!  Why am I surprised that my son is following my example? 

Most of his lies are purely avoidance techniques e.g. Yes, I did wash my hands, brush my teeth, feed the dog, it has not developed beyond this and there is one saving grace. He is really, really bad at lying! When he lies he can't help but laugh and his eyes become as wide as saucers, head tilted slightly to the side. After three seconds he has crumbled. 

His difficulty lies in keeping up that lie. Is this because he believes me when I say I have eyes in the back of my head? 

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