Is it wrong to call B.S. on your 8-year-old child?
I’m increasingly torn between busting my daughter Jellybean for lying and enjoying the outlandish stories that fall from her lips.
We could be passing a mom in the school car line, or driving by an old house. I might ask a rhetorical question about a celebrity, or wonder aloud why Burger King needs my name in the drive-thru. Then, all of a sudden, I will feel a pregnant silence before Jellybean bursts out with, “Did you know …”
What follows is a total lie, but I’m enraptured.
“Did you see that woman?” Jellybean asks in the car.
“Sure,” I answer, grinning because I know what’s coming.
“That’s Savannah’s mom. She’s in my class. Her dad is a weather man, but he and Savannah’s mom don’t live together anymore. I think he lives in Atlanta but he’s in town covering some big weather thing … have you heard about it?”
I try to answer but I’m too slow.
“Yeah he studies tornados. You know that song we listen to about those tornadoes in Alabama?”
(That would be “Tornadoes” by Drive-by Truckers.)
“Well he was there in Alabama when all that happened. He was the one who told everybody that it sounded like a train when those tornadoes hit and his truck got sucked into one.”
(This is starting to sound an awful lot like the plot of “Twister.”)
“Everybody else died but Savannah’s dad. He’s got a huge scar on his face and has to walk with a cane. …
“I’m glad you work in an office.”
Then she stops, leaving me to ponder where all of this came from.
It would be easy to shrug off these tall tales as something a friend told her, were it not for the consistency with which she yanks up such whoppers from the deep rivers of her imagination.
For example: the story about the old house we passed on the way to softball practice.
“You see that house?” she began.
“My friend, Emily, you don’t know her, but last Halloween, she snuck out of her house with some friends when her parents thought they were asleep. They all snuck into that house ’cause everybody says it’s haunted. When they walked in it was real quiet but they heard something bumping around, so they went into the basement. The other girls were too scared, but Emily went down there. She had a flashlight but didn’t see anybody. Then the flashlight died and she was in the dark. That’s when she felt a hand on her shoulder and someone whispered, ‘Get out!’ So she and the other girls ran all the way home.”
The hairs on my neck were standing up at this point.
I know she’s making this stuff up. I’m pretty sure that she knows that I know she’s making this stuff up.
The parent in me doesn’t want to let her get away with lying, but the writer in me wants to foster this kind of spontaneous creativity, because I remember what it felt like to just make stuff up.
Guess I’m not so torn after all. Besides, the truth is usually so boring.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.