The First Lie

Screenshot of Pinocchio from the trailer for t...

It’s as plain as the nose on your face (Wikipedia)

A few weeks back we spent most of the day visiting doctors because Mr. T woke up with a dodgy leg.  It was quite frightening because as far as we were aware he hadn’t banged it or dislocated it or anything.  Nevertheless, when he got out of bed he put his weight on his leg and immediately fell to the ground and started complaining that it ‘doi’ or ‘hurt’.

To cut a long story short, it wasn’t a serious problem and after a couple of days he was back to his old self: running up and down corridors and bombing around parks chasing birds.

Last week we went to the park as we often do when it isn’t pissing down.  We usually go by bus because Mr. T is obsessed with them, and that means I put him in my shoulders to walk to the bus stop and from the bus stop to the park.  When we got through the entrance of the park I put him on the grass expecting him to run off in search of a tractor or a pigeon as he normally does.

This time he just stood there for a minute.  He asked to be picked up again but I told him he should go and look for a tractor or some water.  He then pointed at his knee and said ‘doi doi’ and my heart skipped a beat.  Was his leg hurting again?  Should I get him straight back to the doctor?

But then I realised he had been running around in the flat with a football, so his leg couldn’t have been hurting him that much.  I decided to carry him to the grass where there is a patch of mud that he often likes to play in.  He wasn’t too sure, but he started to mess around in the loose earth, and so I walked to the next one and encouraged him to follow me.  He started to walk tenderly towards me when a jogger cam past on the path.  Mr. T saw the jogger and started to run himself.

Relief.  There was no pain in his leg.  It must have been something very slight, perhaps his shoe was on strange from sitting on my shoulders.  I thought nothing of it as we walked and ran around the park hunting tractors, playing with cold water and feeding the fish.

When it was time to head back to the bus Mr. T stopped again and asked to be carried.  I wanted him to walk until the park gates and then I would carry him to the bus stop and so I asked him to walk.  He looked at his knee and said ‘doi doi’.

I was astounded.  His knee obviously wasn’t hurting him because we had spent over an hour messing around.  He wanted to be carried but I had refuse, twice.  And each time I had refused he had complained about a sore knee to try to get me to do as he wanted.

PEGI white bad language tag

What I wanted to call him (Wikipedia)

The conniving, manipulative, lying little…

…and yet, at the same time, I was impressed.  He was trying to manipulate his environment to the way he wanted it to be.  He knew that when he had legitimately complained about having a bad leg I had carried him everywhere, so he experimented with trying it again.

And after all, it would be impossible to exist in human society without lying occasionally.  Right?

Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to reward him for his first experiment with telling porkie pies, so I told him I wouldn’t carry him and that he should walk with me and then I walked off.  He stood there for a bit, but eventually decided he wasn’t going to win and so ambled along after me as if nothing had happened.

Is this our first lie?  He is two years and two months.  Is this early to be lying?  Or is it not really a lie, just an attempt to manipulate me to do what he wants?  If you have any answers, please leave them in the comments below.


24 thoughts on “The First Lie

  1. I think this was manipulation which I think even babies can do from a very young age. The difference this time was that he was very aware of what he was doing and it is a skill that he will need to develop. We are all guilty of manipulation after all who doesn’t want to get their own way at some time.

    • I am leaning on the ‘manipulation’ side as well at the moment. In everything else he does he rarely tells ‘lies’ unless it is as a joke and then he has a big smile on his face as he says it.

  2. He has been manipulating you from birth. Now, he has learned to do it with language. Just another step in childhood development. Perfectly normal. He will be telling much bigger whoppers within a couple of years. The creativity will amaze you.

  3. A lie, is a chocolate covered face, convincingly saying ‘No Mummy’ when I ask ‘Conor, have you eaten chocolate?’

  4. to start with they are not lying they are just denying the truth. This was obviously for attention and it worked, it has worked once it will be used again.
    Only 1 of mine could lie with a straight face so if they all said “not me” with a straight face then I knew which one it was.
    If she was telling the truth then working out who the other liar was was a bit more difficult.

  5. I don’t think it can be considered a lie at that age. He’s simply experimenting with what he can control and what he can’t. He said doi and got a ride, then tried it again. The fact that the first time he was actually in pain and this time he’s not isn’t part of the equation for him. And the second time, he learned that simply saying the word doesn’t win him a ride. He might have learned that actually being in pain got him the ride, but I bet he’s still got some experimenting to do before he puts it all together that to get a ride you must actually be in pain and express that you’re in pain. Doing only one or the other won’t get you what you want.

  6. I agree with everything the others said here. It’s not a lie, he knew, by experience, that if he said that his knee was hurting, you would take care of him and carry him. You can make him understand that he doesn’t have to have pain on his knee (or wherever) in order to get your attention or to be carried. Maybe he was only tired and didn’t dare to ask ? Or did he maybe ask and you tried to convince him to walk and then he remembered that if his knee hurts he’ll be allowed to be carried? – Anyway, you can tell him that he simply has to ask for what he needs and, if you think it’s ok, he gets it without having pain. A 2 year old understands this 😉

    • The best part about writing this post has neem the considered comments from people such as yourself.

      I am no longer too worried about whether he was lying or not, in fact I have decided to look at it as a developmental milestone and one which such be aprreciated. Everyone ‘lies’ for one reason or another and he is starting to experiment with this technique. It is also interesting to think that he is imagining another reality and trying to create that reality.

      You are right when you say we have to show him that he doesn’t need to lie to get what he wants/needs. We have to model the appropriate behaviour and ways of making requests.


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