A Truth Half-Told

Lately we’ve had some issues with Little Miss Sunshine being, shall we say, rather fluid with the truth.

There’s two facets to her dishonesty. One one hand, she’s doing this weird thing where she denies having said something she JUST said. For example:

Me: Would you like juice or milk?

Her: Juice.

Me: pours juice

Her: I said, I want milk!

Me: No, you said you want juice. Do you want milk?

Her: I said, I want both. makes “Duh” face

The second thing she’s doing these days is inventing fanciful stories about things that never actually happened. Like so:

Her, while riding in the back seat of the car: I just saw the museum!

Me: That does look like the museum, doesn’t it? But really it’s just a school.

Her: I have been to that school before.

Me: I don’t think we have, no.

Her: Yes, once my teacher took us there. It was a field trip and we rode the bus and I sat with Emily and Tamara. And my teacher said, hold on tight over the bumps! And we did and it was SO funny. Then we got to the school and the teacher had brought everyone apples and granola bars! And we had a picnic on the lawn, and then we went in and saw a concert. And Elmo was there!

And so on.

Lately we have begun trying to correct her when she denies having said what she said, Sir Monkeypants and I will gently remind her that it is okay to make a mistake or change her mind, but it is not okay to say you didn’t say something when you definitely said it. So far she is not taking to this kind of correction very well – she gives us her stank face and stands by her story. We are flirting with the idea of upping the ante with a trip to the naughty step. It’s not serious now but we both think it’s important to enforce the idea that she can trust us with the truth.

As for the storytelling, I used to find it amusing but now I am somewhat worried. I think this kind of fanciful dreaming happens sometimes in kids (although our other two were firmly-planted reality-addicted kids who would never, ever have come up with something so ridiculous). I’m trying not to crush her creative spirit. But I do wonder what, exactly, she is telling her teacher at school about me. SHUDDER. So again, I’m starting to think about having some more serious discussions about truthiness.

What do you think – phase she’ll grow out of, or dangerous warning sign of future grifter?

9 thoughts on “A Truth Half-Told

  1. Our guy is SOOOO like that in terms of the “you JUST said that.” “No, I DIDN’T” he says, then he grimaces and sometimes tries to hit or kick us. As if we did something bad to him by pointing out he had just contradicted himself.

    As for fanciful stories, we’re not worried about that. He has all kinds of crazy stories. I meant to write one down from the other day, but I don’t remember the details. Suffice it to say, it somehow involved fart guns (his favourite) and stink rockets. I wouldn’t worry about tall tales. Future grifter? Perhaps! There are worse ‘careers’. 😉

  2. When I worked in a before-and-after school daycare, we had a lot of this going on. What seemed to work best was a neutral discussion about “fiction” and “non-fiction” with an emphasis on how fiction was not true, but still interesting and creative and admirable. Then, when we got the fancy stories, we’d say casually, “Wow! What a great/interesting/fantastic story. Is it fiction or non-fiction?” Usually, they’d label it properly and we’d go on with the conversation. For some kids it took a while to catch on. 🙂

  3. twohandsfull

    I had the funnies ride in the car a few weeks ago. I had my son and two of his friends in tow. One started to tell a story that was obviously a lie. Then my son told the same story but added his own twist on it, then the third embellished it even more. With each telling they were all “WOW did that really happen?” to the teller, and all in awe as it was confirmed that yes it did! I am still baffled by the 7yo brain. 🙂

  4. How old is she? Meena (3 going on 4) has been doing the same thing, and I’ve always encouraged her stories (often including her imaginary friends, Emily and Alice), as evidence of a vivid imagination. But I’ve also worried about where to draw the line.

  5. Meh, I think it’s a stage. Like when my older son thought he was actually Doc Hudson from Cars and made up all these elaborate stories about his life as Doc. Sometimes he still does that, but with Mario Kart characters. OMG MAYBE HE ISN’T OUTGROWING THIS.

  6. smothermother

    We are going through the EXACT same thing with the jellybean. Maybe it’s the age? One of his stories was so convincing that we were worried he had actually been taken on a field trip without getting parental permission. Once we found the truth he looked all sheepish and said “it was just joking.” so we talked to him about how he can tell us all the stories he wants, but at the end he has to tell us whether it was joking or not. I think I like the fiction/non-fiction line too.

    as for the denying he said something, i don’t know what to do about that. he’ll tell us we said something that we really didn’t and then get into an argument and really get upset and it drives me insame. i usually just ignore it but i think we will have to figure something out, because the “ignore it and it will go away” method doesn’t seem to be working.

    glad to hear he isn’t the only one though! 😉

  7. hanaboomom

    Ohmygosh, going through EXACTLY the same thing with Jamie.

    “Jamie, do you want cereal for breakfast?”
    I make cereal, then call him down for breakfast.
    “I wanted toast!”


    And we get all sorts of outlandish stories told to us about his friends. One thing we have noticed is that the outlandish stories often come up when the rest of the family is really engaged in a conversation. For instance, if Hana is telling us a story about how a friend of hers just got a dog, and the dog chewed on her friends shoes, Jamie might chime in and say that a friend of his got TWO dogs and they chewed on his COAT! In that case, we figure that he’s just wanting to be involved in the conversation (and maybe play a bit of a game of one-upmanship with his sister).

    But then there are even taller tales. For instance, I had an email from the mother of one of Jamie’s friends congratulating me that I’d one a car from Roll-Up-The-Rim. Except I didn’t. To be honest, I actually found that funny, and also somewhat surprising, since I didn’t think Jamie even knew about Roll-Up-The-Rim.

    Anyway, we have talked to Jamie quite a number of times about not lying, and he does slowly seem to be getting that it’s not a good thing to do. I’m not overly concerned at this time just because it does seem to be a thing with this age. It actually helps to read all the other comments here and realize it’s a pretty common phenomenon.

  8. LittleSis used to make up stories all of the time. Yes, she really believed they were true, which I never understood or appreciated, but she turned out okay.

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