Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Delaying Lie

I’ve never been a very good liar. But now that I’ve got a nearly-two year old boy who seems to need almost constant attention, I find myself lying all the time.

“See Animal Shelf?” asks Jack.

Animal Shelf is his absolute favourite video of the moment. He must have seen it ten times this week. I want him to find something more creative to do with his time. He’s got loads of toys.

“No” I lie, “The television’s not working today”.

Why should I feel guilty? It’s for his own good. It’s just a little white lie.

“Fruit bar?” he asks hopefully when we go for a ride in the car and he gets hungry.

Fruit bars are a great snack, healthy and easy to take away. We invariably have some in a bag in the car. They’re great for filling up Jack’s empty stomach when the trip out has taken a bit longer than anticipated and we should really have been home for dinner a while ago. If there’s a long journey home and Jack’s really kicking up a fuss, I might let him eat one in the car seat. But the crumbs go everywhere. It’s not a habit I want him to get into for every journey.

“No, the fruit bars are all gone” I say. Another lie.

“Washing up with Daddy?” Jack asks when dinner is over.

Jack loves washing up. It’s not really washing up, of course. He enjoys standing on a chair at the sink and splashing the water around, playing with the bubbles, pouring from one container to another. I attempt to wash up as we go, but it takes three times longer than if Jack wasn’t joining in. It’s a rare treat for when I have the time to mop up and change his soaking clothes afterwards. Today there are things I've promised myself I should get done.

So out comes the biggest lie of all: “Maybe we’ll do it later”.

Of course once the moment is past Jack finds other things to interest him. He’ll go and poke his sister in the eye, play with a bike in the garden or chuck jigsaw pieces around the living room floor. He’ll never remember the half-promise. I hope.

There are a number of variations on the delaying lie: in a minute; in a little while; very soon; maybe tomorrow; another time. But the technique remains the same. Promise you’ll do it later, distract the child with something else, then never do it. I probably use the delaying lie ten times a week.

But Jack has the most amazing memory. He remembers the exact details of a scene from an animation he saw on TV once three months ago, and the name of the friend whose house he was in at the time. How long will it be before he catches me out? “It is later," Jack will say, "Daddy do it now”.

Verbally, he’s already capable of this. He just has to understand the treachery, put two and two together and see his father for what he is: an inveterate schemer, a compulsive con artist who’ll lie to his son for a quiet life.

Does Jack already know I am a liar? Does he hear the TV working when he’s gone to bed? Did he see me put the fruit bars in the glove box?

What kind of an example am I setting to my son? What kind of father am I?

I resolve to be more truthful to Jack. I’ll even stop using the delaying lie. I will.

Very soon.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Jack's First Words

When I was fourteen months old, my adoring mum, who was very proud of my vocabulary, made a list of all the words I could say. There were about 100.

I made the mistake of compiling a similar list for Jack. There were 130, and more he could understand.

It's quite unnerving discovering that your son is cleverer than you.

I've attached the list below as an exercise in child psychology. What matters when you're fourteen months old?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jack SAYS about 130 words including:

Mummy
Daddy
Grape
Shreddies
Shoes
Puppy
Up (stairs)
Down (stairs)
Toes
Hand
Foot
Eyes
Hair
Car
Tractor
Teeth
Ear
Knee
Finger
Flower
Wee
Poo
Pooey
Willy
Apple
Fruit
Yoghurt
Bubble
Kiwi
All gone
Water
Chair
Oh-Oh
Steady
Wow
No
Yuk(y)
Raisin (“ryas”)
Toast
‘tatoe
Jack
Grace
Lily
Mary
Sara
Archie
Emilia
Laura
Sarah
Nanny
Swing
Go
Book
Bee
Star
Pretty (lights)
Keys
Milk
Ta
Bib
Nap-Nap (nappy)
“Shut the door”
Lorry
Truck
Hat
Trousers
Shower
Sock
Arms
Sneeze
Atishoo
Sniff
Blow
(put) Back
Wheel
Cow – moo
Cat – miaow
Dog – woof (“foow”)
[Mouse] – ee ee
[clock] – tick tock
[horse] – clip clop
Sheep – baa
Frog – hop
Duck – quack
Lion – roar
Tiger – roar
Jocko (neighbour's cat)
Whale
Spider
Fish (“shish”)
Teddy
Tree
Kiss (action)
Ball
Blocks
Spoon
Cup
See…? (as question, to be lifted up)
“So big” (+hands up action)
Hiya
Hello
Seeya
Bye
Goodbye
Strawberry
Step
Buzz (bee)
Tongue
Sticky
[monkey/gorilla] - ooh ooh
Brush
Pull
Push
Ticket
Tebbies (teletubbies)
Go
Here
(get) Out
Shh!
Digger (“dig dig”)
Detol (“duhtuh”)
Rake (+ action)

Jack UNDERSTANDS all the above plus:

Potty
Hungry
In a minute
Here we are
Wait
Round and round
Roly poly over
Ready steady go
‘Fingers’ (as a warning not to get them trapped)
Garden
Coat
Pram
Buggy
Where
Eat it
Head
Tummy
Banana
Hot
Sit Down
Grandma
Grandad
Albert
Walk
Bounce
Bottle
Dance
Transporter
Funny
Fire Engine
Helicopter
Lid