Truth. Fib. Lie. Dealing with Kids and Lying


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Ryan started telling tall tales somewhere around age four.  They were so harmless I can hardly remember them.  Like most kids, he had lots of creative explanations about things he did or saw.
I remember a few whoppers from my childhood; mostly ones I told after being caught doing something wrong.  Once, on vacation in Florida when I was probably eight or nine, I hid out in one of the pool dressing rooms, reading a book and chewing on Twizzlers and chocolate bars I had sneakily purchased from the sundry shop.  When my mom poked her head in my dressing room, I took off running.  When she found me in a stairwell a few minutes later, I made up this story: I thought she was a kidnapper walking in the dressing room, I got scared and I ran away.  There was some truth in it: I was scared (of being caught in my hideaway with my contraband) and I ran away.  The rest no one bought — I’m quite sure moments like this one are what have made me a fairly honest adult who eats licorice and chocolate out in the open.
Luckily, around the same time Ryan started lying, I came across Sandra Levins’ book, Eli’s Lie-O-Meter: A Story About Telling The Truth at the library.
The book is funny and a story (rather than a preachy kind of lesson) about a little boy who tells some pretty fantastic lies.  Eli’s pretend play and imagination is celebrated throughout the story, but when he goes too far, his mom rolls in a Lie-O-Meter machine that spits out tickets when Eli doesn’t tell the truth, in six levels of severity: truth, fib, lie, big lie, giant lie and whopper.
We read it. I remember thinking then how much easier it was to talk to Ryan about Eli’s fibbing than addressing his own.   I hardly wanted to stop Ryan from imagining, but I wanted to be sure he knew fact from fiction and that when I asked for the truth, I’d be sure to get it.
A few days later, I told Ryan that moms are natural lie-o-meters. And I made colored tickets for TRUE (green), LIE (red)  and FIB (yellow). I laminated them. And for a few weeks, when he started telling stories, I’d run and get one and hand it to him.  I didn’t say much. He would laugh and grin, knowing that I knew he was making something up.
When I was being sarcastic and said something pretty awful (possibly a cooked green vegetable) was really great, he even ran up and gave me a LIE ticket.  Clearly, he got the lesson.
The tickets still float around the house, along with the occasional tall tale.  Some we let go, giving a little creative wiggle room, others we investigate and deal with.  I’m guessing there are plenty of dressing room crises ahead in my parenting days, and I’m glad to have some vocabulary and experience to guide me.
You can print and download my FIBLieTruth tags here.
FIBLieTruth
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Comments

  1. Amy says:

    Fabulous and you never cease to amaze me. Keep those around for the teenage years.

  2. Bonnie says:

    Jodie, you just ruined my image of you as the perfect child! Your sister’s library book was a whopper. Remember?

  3. Barbara Sadowsky says:

    I don’t believe that Jodie every told a lie!!!!

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Trackbacks

  1. […] The book is funny and a story (rather than a preachy kind of lesson) about a little boy who tells some pretty fantastic lies. Eli’s pretend play and imagination is celebrated throughout the story, but when he goes too far, his mom rolls in a Lie-O-Meter machine that spits out tickets when Eli doesn’t tell the truth, in six levels of severity: truth, fib, lie, big lie, giant lie and whopper. http://www.lovethemmadly.com/2013/04/12/truth-fib-lie/ […]

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