Inception of a Toddler Lie

My toddler whispers sweet words of deceit into my ear. As we covered yesterday, I’m curiously wondering if perhaps this is all our fault. It turns out that my wife and I are not always the most truthful when it comes to dealing with our daughter. What if she is only lying because of that one time I told her ice cream will make her throw up? What if she found out that there was a season 2 to Dora the Explorer when I had told her it was cancelled? This might just be poetic karma as my sweet little girl wiggles her way into a life of deception; our life as a family has forever changed…

The most fascinating part of raising a young toddler is watching their mind develop right before your eyes; you can watch as they slowly comprehend their own emotions and abilities and seemingly immediately start to use them against you. Eliza took a tumble the other day and didn’t realize that I could see her from over the counter; my little monster literally paused after falling to take a moment to contemplate her reaction. She wasn’t teary, unnerved, or injured, but she was still also sorting out the event in her mind and basically making a decision on how to move forward. Eliza, as most toddlers tend to do, opted for a theatrical performance that suggested her leg just might fall off. I comforted her with a smile on my face, mesmerized by the entire performance. This may not qualify as an outright lie, but it was interesting nonetheless—a two-year old pausing to assess the situation and making a rational decision…to cry irrationally and get daddy’s affection.

It’s not just actions, of course, that reveal a shade of dishonesty from my little sweetheart. Bedtime seems to be the culprit for the origin of these lying games. If you missed it, she started gargling nonsense a long time ago (HERE), but it was somewhat pointed. She instinctively knows that the word “poop” will bring a parent running so she uses it as a weapon regularly. We’ll lay her down to sleep and she’ll sob a bit as we walk away, only to yell “I POOP” a few minutes later and bring daddy right back to the door. Not only does she use potential bowel movements after bedtime, but coincidentally always wants to use the potty right at bedtime (she’s not potty-trained). Hmm…maybe night 78 of her throwing a party on the potty right at the bedtime will actually result in a potty-trained child. Or not.

The other glorious battleground of falsehoods is the use of her beautifully innocent eyes to attempt a con game with mommy and daddy. I’ll watch her attempt to climb a cabinet, yell at her, and try to suppress giggles as she looks at me sadly and claims “I no climb.” Eliza, I was standing 18 inches away from you and I know you did it. It makes no difference. Just tonight, her face turned purple and she made strong eye contact with me as she filled her diaper; “Eliza, did you poop?” “No, more berries.” “Eliza, do we need a new diaper?” “No, more berries.”   These are direct lies to my face…and I can’t help but love her even more for them. She’s so cute when she lies. I hope that line won’t need revisited someday in front of a jury of her peers.

The most endearing parts of a toddler learning to lie is how blessed are the motivations. She wants to use the potty at bedtime because she knows that usually translates into a long book reading session with mommy on the toilet. She plays the role of tortured and abused at the slightest fall knowing that daddy’s arms patiently await. She lies about her dirty diapers because she views a diaper change as an inconvenient impediment to more time playing with her friends or family. How can you be made at this miniature little human who is lying in order to spend more time with you? In another 10 years, she’s going to be lying in order to spend less time with me.

We are transitioning into some timeouts and discipline for a lovely but challenging little toddler. We’ll do our best to get a head start on squashing the lies early in life, but I must admit it is not always easy to keep a straight, strict face as she recounts her version of events. Maybe she really didn’t know her diaper was full of disgusting nonsense? Maybe bumping into the padded couch really did break her arm? All I know is that another threshold has been crossed and my little girl, against her daddy’s wishes, is growing up. At least the first few months of her dishonesty will be enjoyable to witness…

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