Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Little lies, sweet little lies

B is old enough now that we're having to start dealing with more of those complicated social nuances. For instance, a couple weeks ago I found myself telling B that the right thing to do is lie.

There's this little girl at his pre-school, maybe 3 or 4, who finds B and his older kid friends uber-cool. She's always imitating what they've just done and calling for B to watch her do the same thing. B and friends is of course completely uninterested. She'd been seeing B and friend hitting at various things with sticks and so one day, when B was off playing Indiana Jones and having moved on from the stick, she comes over to give him a stick as a present. B takes the stick, breaks it in half, and declares he doesn't want it. I frantically told him after the girl wandered off that he is supposed to just say "thanks" even if he doesn't want a present and then discretely toss it away when the giver isn't watching anymore.

B also still has child-syndrome in which he states every observation he makes at the top of his voice. At the swimming pool parking lot last thursday, someone in a wheelchair was getting into a van. B declares all the way across the parking lot: "Look! That girl doesn't know how to walk!" I'm still handling these things by pretending not to be embarrassed and discussing the observation politely with B. So I just say, that's right in a tone implying that that's a normal way to be.


Precie said...

Ah, yes. The social nuances. Today I was treated to a respite from those...Instead, Child asked on the way to school..."What does God REALLY look like?"

Robin S. said...

As the words to the old song said...Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end...

In other words, man, do I ever commisserate with ya.

I dated a guy one time long ago, whose parents had had an 'oops' baby. We were eighteen at the time, and the oops boy was three. We took him to a shop down in Aiken, South Carolina (I was visiting them, as they had moved), and the boy sees an attractive black lady in a nice pant suit and also wearing a cape and hat, as it had been raining - and he points to her and looks up at us and said, "Look, she's a witch!" because of the cape and hat.

Embarrassment ensued.

Thank God the lady smiled - I thought I was gonna die, down there in the deep South with that kind of comment going on.

Then I really made an eighteen year old ass out of myself, thinking I was really smoothing things over by pointing out the obvious, and I said something like..."Oh, it was your cape. He's seen the cape on the witch in the Wizard of Oz. That's a really good movie, by the way. Have you ever seen it, ma'am?" And on and on. Yeah. Good times.

Anyway, later on when I had my own two kids, when this stuff happened, I did what you did with the first instance, and explained why that wasn't nice. And I pulled the old "how would you feel if..." because I think it's good for a kid to see there are other perspectives, and to learn some (certainly and expectedly anti-natural) empathy for others' feelings.

In the second case, where the honesty/loudness factor came into play, I must admit there were a few times I fussed at the girls, leaning over and speaking so they wouldn't be humilitated, bu still, saying something, because I never did get over that witch incident, I guess. And I think it's perfectly fine for a child to find out that they are, in fact, only the center of the universe to a small group of people, and that manners are what keep us from killing each other sometimes. It's a hard line to walk - not to humiliate them in the process - but I think you're right to be concerned about and wanting to handle this. Even when the other part of you may be grinning - because dammit, just saying what you mean sometimes just feels so damn good.

Yeah. Those were the days.

Robin S. said...

P.S. forgot to say- loved the Fleetwood Mac memory in the post title.

writtenwyrdd said...

Sounds like you are doing excellently. I recall having my mother explain why I shouldn't say that mommy said she didn't like a lady's dress after mommy said she did to the woman. Much lack of hilarity ensued on that one among the adults. My embarrassed mother couldn't explain the polite white lie to me at three, lol.

ChrisEldin said...

Love that song too, btw!

Oh, yes, children can be little beasties.

Re Robin's story--sorry, I have one to 'top' that one, hehehehe!
Children went to preschool at a convent. Of course nuns, dressed in black with those pointy hats--calling a nun a witch? Oh man. I remember looking for that rock to crawl under...

Little Paca sounds very cute!

Ello said...

HA! I have 3 of them! Constantly with the inappropriate commenting! This is my life, it doesn't get easier!

writtenwyrdd said...

I could wax poetical and snickering about my brother who at 5 decided (long story) to explain where babies came from. This was in 1964. It went over like the proverbial lead balloon. I wasn't in school yet, so I got dragged to the meeting, which I can still vaguely recall. I was even asked if I knew the facts of life (dum da dum) and I promptly explained them, to everyone's horror. Heh. Good times.