My two-year attempted to tell one of his first lies the other evening at dinner. We try not to force food on our children, we don’t want them to develop issues related to eating. However, we do require them to eat some sort of vegetable with dinner. They both get into vegetable ruts and eat the same thing every night – the younger will only eat corn and the older will only eat spinach (I know – weird!). The two-year old finished with his meal, but his corn sat untouched. He started to get up, saying “Excused?” – my wife asked him if he ate his corn. He said “yes.” I looked at him, motioned to the corn, and told him to eat. He just started laughing. He knows that he can say anything he wants. He has that power. I’m sure if I hadn’t noticed corn, he would have gotten up and started playing in the other room. He is learning the power of language.
Certainly it is small and hopefully we can teach him the importance of being truthful. The problem is that we are filled with a world of half-truths and outright lies. It all depends upon the spin and your point of view (and which station you get your news from). National, state, and local politics are filled with these. Television is filled with these. For some reason I accept these with a critical filter, expecting a spin or a bias. Everything sent out by my district regarding the current standoff is critically examined and never taken at face value. However, I am not as careful with my social interactions. I do not expect someone to look at me and lie to my face. We are (although arguably at times) a civilized society, there is no need to elaborate upon the truth or outright create it.
In the last year, I have had a couple people weave webs of lies that I accepted hook, line, and sinker. I realize I might be a little naïve that I am perhaps too willing to believe people who look at me when they speak. I know that of the 10 kids that say their printer ran out of ink the day before a paper or project is due, some are probably lying. Are some lies more OK then others? Do we teach our children that telling the truth is important by severely punishing or humiliating them? Or will that just make them tell more lies to avoid the punishment?
Sure it’s corn today, but what will be tomorrow?