Monday, June 11, 2012
When children are very small, they generally believe everything you tell them - you are, after all, pretty much their main source of information and direction, so there is little reason for them to doubt you. As they get older, their variety and quantity of sources gets larger, and so, they begin to question you. This is ok - it promotes exploration of their world and the way it works, it inspires investigation, trying to see if they can find their own answer to questions about their environment, their family, their world, but it also creates skepticism. You tell your child not to touch the stove because it is hot and will burn them. At two years old, like the baby, they pull their hands in close and back away, fearsome of the terrible hot thing in the kitchen, both believing that the stove is very hot, and that you are so wonderful and nice to tell them, and also magical for having the power to touch it yourself. At four years old (the blonde, not too long ago), they begin to wonder "is it really hot, or is this large person just telling me that it is to keep something awesome away from me?". The doubting child lingers, weighing the probability of whether or not the stove actually is indeed hot, and how she could possibly prove to the obviously ill-informed large person that the nature of the stove's hotness is questionable. She lifts a finger, slowly drawing it near to the stove, hesitates for a moment, the large person tells her "don't touch it, it's hot", thus reminding the child of her quest to disprove said stove's hotness, and she quickly snaps her hands out to the stove, touches it, and invariably finds out that the large person is much smarter than she thinks and had been correct in the assertion of the stove's hotness all along. This is when you, as a parent begin to see that statements of truth are no longer enough to convince your doubting child of your own knowledge. You need proof, or, at very least, an outside source. You start saying things like "well, your teacher said..." or "I learned it in school" or "it was on the news". This last little bit about the news is particularly useful in cases of outside activity. Here in Florida especially, swimming is available most of the year, and the girls love it, so their requests for trips to the pool come frequently. Now, I love swimming, too, but sometimes, the work to get all of the children and their accouterments to the pool is not worth the ten minutes they last in the pool before they want to go home and have a snack. Also, afternoon thunderstorms are common here, and no one wants to run back from the pool dragging three kids and fourteen pounds of towels and floaties and mermaid Barbies. That said, there are times I have to say no to pool time, and in response to their "Why? We want to!" I often back it up with a solid "the news said it's going to rain". This is usually true, I don't ever (well, rarely) say it just because I don't feel like swimming, I only use it when I don't feel like swimming in a thunder storm. Typically this gives me enough outside source credit to quell any protests, and so the worst I get is a smug face and a threat that tomorrow's weather better be sunny, or else. Now, ironically, the same time when children begin to doubt their parents is the same time they start to lie. I don't know what it is - there must be some sort of truth lobe in their brain that goes haywire between three and five years old - but along with their own doubts of my truthfulness, comes doubts of my own about theirs. Generally, it seems, they more often lie to prevent themselves from getting in trouble - the classic "Who broke this?" "Not me!" routine - or to get something they want, or just because they can. The brunette in particular is not only a frequent fibber, but an unshakable one. She could have frosting all over her face and would deny to the grave that she had anything to do with the missing cupcake, and I have to say, she keeps such a stone face, I might believe her. Even with clear evidence, it takes a lot of coercion to get her to admit to the truth. Lately, though, the tables have turned. Just as I have beefed up my arsenal of persuasive tactics, she, too has been working some out. A topic will come up, like what to do today. She'll suggest the playground. I'll answer that although that sounds super fun, it is raining at this very moment outside, and so the playground is not a good option for today. She rebuffs with "well, I heard on the news that it is not raining." Oh snap, she's catching Channel 9 when I'm not looking! I open the blinds to show her that it is in fact currently raining as we speak, but she insists, "the news said it's not." I try to explain that some weather prediction can be wrong, and that while Doppler radar has greatly improved meteorological forecasts, there are still instances in which the news may be incorrect, as is shown by the weather situation at this time, and also, I'm pretty sure you didn't really watch the news. "Well," she starts, "I'm pretty sure the news said it's not raining. And the news said that Ariel is going to be there." Umm, what? She even puts her shoes on here. "What news did you watch?" I ask. "The news." Well, duh, THE news. I tell her that I'm very sorry the news said there is no rain today, but I can see it outside right now, so we are going to have to go to the playground another day. Smug face, crossed arms, disappointed brunette. "You know, " I say, "I think the news did say that it's not raining tomorrow."