Thursday, June 14, 2018

Little lies and language learning

"Benny peed in his pants!" Zoë tattled (somewhat triumphantly—because she really had him this time!) after flinging the back door open.

"He did what?!" I groaned.

He hollered at her to get back outside, "Zoë!"

She ran back outside and he told her a few things and she poked her head back inside to announce sheepishly, "Benny did not pee in his pants."

Clearly this was a matter that needed to be sorted out, but I certainly didn't want to be the one to do it. I was tired. It had been quite a trying day and—did I mention this?—my husband was no help (because he was in Sweden). I sighed heavily (it's yogic) and went outside.

"Hi, Mom," Benjamin said, meeting me at the door. "I'm going to tell you The Truth."

"Great," I said. "That's exactly what I want."

"The truth is: I didn't pee in my pants."

"Fabulous. Then tell me what you did do."

"I just did."

"No, you told me that you didn't pee in your pants."

"Right. I didn't."

"That's not telling me what you did. That's telling me what you didn't do. There's a difference."

"Okay. Then I will tell you The Truth."

"Let's hear it."

"The truth is: I didn't pee in my pants."

"We've established that."

"Then...I can go?"

"No. I still want to know what happened."

"What happened is: I didn't pee in my pants."

"Right. I get that. But clearly something happened and I'd like to know what that something was."

"Well, I didn't pee in my pants, if that's what you're wondering. Because you told us to go potty before we could go on a walk and I did. I went right inside to the upstairs bathroom—and I even remembered to take off my shoes first—and I went potty and then I came right back outside. So I don't know what Zoë is talking about."

"Okay, see, I don't think that happened because everyone was in the kitchen and, um, we all know you didn't ever come inside. So that part can't be the truth. Why don't you just tell me the truth?"

"The Truth?" he gulped.


"I peed in the garden," he mumbled.

So instead of coming on our pyjama walk, Benjamin got to sit on his bed with no books, no music, no toys, and no light (Grandma was at home and it wasn't even dark outside yet, don't worry). He cried the entire time (his choice). His punishment was not so much because he peed in the garden (though we do strongly encourage him to use the toilet); it was because he lied to me repeatedly while telling me that he was telling me the truth.

Honestly, if I had stepped outside and he had told me, "When you heard Zoë say that I peed 'in my pants,' what she was really saying was that I had peed 'in the plants.' But I should'definitely've used the potty inside. Sorry about that. My judgement is suboptimal. I'm a moron six-year-old boy," we wouldn't have had a problem.

I can handle six-year-old shenanigans. No problem. But lying to me and assuring me that it's the truth? Well, I get that that's still six-year-old shenanigans, but the consequences are going to be more severe for that than for just peeing in the garden. Especially after a long, hard day (sorry little dude).

The good news is, he got to go on tonight's walk and last night's walk, and I haven't had to prise the truth out of him the past couple of days, either. At least, not that I know of.

He even admitted to filling up an entire container of water (to dip paint brushes into) and then spilling said water (after brushes had been dipped several times). Of course, it helps that when I said, "What happened here?" all his sisters chorused, "Benny."

But, you know, he didn't deny their accusations, so it's going down in my books as a win.

For her part, Zoë needs to start using the right words when tattling on others (or, you know, she could stop tattling so much). Pants vs. plants is a rather important distinction.

Oh, and this afternoon she came in crying about something-something "lost."

"What did you lose?" Grandma asked.

"Nothing!" Zoë screeched, perplexed. "There is a lost. A lops. A losp. A fosp. A fops. THERE. IS. A. FWAPS. OUTSIDE."

"A...wasp?" I asked.

"Yeah! A FWAPS!" she panted.

She's getting to that age where she can tell she's not saying things quite right (and it bugs her little perfectionist self). I love her self corrections and I'm happy that her language is improving, but I still mourn a little whenever she fixes something she's routinely said incorrectly.

Because what am I going to do for entertainment after all my kids learn how to speak properly?!

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