Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Chloë has entered the much-anticipated "why" (or rather, "Because why?", which I submit is much cuter) stage. Why is Daddy going to work? Why is it too late to make cookies? Why does water run out of the tub? Why isn't the moon in the sky?

(She's suddenly become extra-obsessed with her "Cat in the Hat in Space" (actually There's No Place Like Space) book, demanding six or seven readings today. It details the planets, the sun, and moon, and a few constellations. When we went to the window this evening to see if the moon was out, it wasn't but Jupiter and Venus were, and Orion was spread out against the sky like a patient etherised upon a table--I mean, like he is in the book. I pointed him out, and she talked about "Orion the Hunter" a few times afterward. At bedtime she wanted to see him again, and--surprise!--the moon was out. "I thought the moon would be in the 'ky. Maybe it would," she said.)

At the same time she's learning various truths about life, I think she's starting to consider withholding some of her own. Today was her bath night, and she had bubble bath, and bath crayons, and toys, and foam letters. It was a complex bath. Maia stood at the rim, as she does, and helped by gnawing on duckies and then knocking them into the tub. I pulled out a few for her to play with, put the books up on the second shelf instead of on the floor so they wouldn't be dripped on when we put the toys away later, and drew duckies for Chloë which she then added orange feet to, so they could go to the grasshopper (don't ask):

I got distracted by something or other (maybe the thought of the nefarious duckipede) and shortly thereafter Chloë said "Look Mama," and handed me Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, which is a board book we've designated as a bathroom book.

It was sopping wet. "Oh, no!" I said, already knowing what must have happened and considering how to present this conversation. "It's all wet! Was it in the tub?"

"Heth," she said.

"How did it get there?" No answer. I tried prying a couple of pages open, gingerly, hoping the cardboard wouldn't separate. "Did Maia put it in the tub?" No answer. "Did something else happen?"

"Domething happened," she agreed, hesitantly.

"Did you take it from the shelf and put it in the water?" I said.

And there was this moment where I waited to see if she would decide to lie to me. I hadn't presented any anger, but I'd made it clear that this wet book was not something I had expected or wanted. Would she decide to lie to avoid my possible wrath? Would it even occur to her to do so? She's told untruths before, but they've been pretty clearly (a) a case of not understanding a word, (b) not being able to control her language to match her meaning (i.e., "I don't want it! --I do want it!", or (c) being totally silly, never with the intent to deceive.

I'm not sure if it did in the circumstances, and the evil-scientist part of me wishes I had put on some display of anger just to see if that response could be provoked, if she's developmentally mature enough for that. But she confessed, "Heth."

So I told her, calmly, that books are not meant to get wet and only her two bath books can go in the tub. Luckily we have another copy of that book, so it's not a big deal. I wonder how long it will be, though, before her first true lie.

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