Fact or Fiction

A typical weekday evening in the Nord household sounds something like this:

Mommy/Daddy: “Wyatt, how was Kindergarten today?”
Wyatt: “Oh brother. Fine.”
Mommy/Daddy: “What did you do?”
Wyatt: “Ummmmm…we went outside one time and we played in the warehouse two times.”
M/D: “Oh, yeah? Did you learn anything?”
Wyatt: “Nope.”
M/D: “Lovely.”

You can imagine my surprise and delight one recent evening when Wyatt responded to my “How was your day?” query as follows: “We had a program today at school. The first and second graders from the other campus came over on the school bus and did a program for us. Then we went outside to play and we had hot chocolate when we came back inside.” Though not exactly anacademic discussion, I was nonetheless pleased that he had something moderately interesting to say about the last eight hours of his life. I thought, perhaps, we were having a breakthrough.

Such hopes were quickly dashed, however, when I went to choir practice that night. You see, I happen to sit next to Wyatt’s Kindergarten teacher in the church choir. She’s a lovely woman, and we like to chat it up while the rest of the choir rehearses their parts. While our lone bass stumbled through a particularly tricky passage, I leaned to Wyatt’s teacher and said, “So, I hear you had a program today.” She looked at me puzzled. I said, “Didn’t you have a program from the first and second graders at the other campus?” She said, “Noooo…” I asked if they had gone outside. No. Hot chocolate? Definitely not.

Wyatt had made up the whole story. And with confidence! I was dumbfounded, and frankly felt pretty dumb. He had taken me for a ride on his imagination train, and I’d been a very willing passenger.

If this had been a single occurrence of truth-stretching, I probably would have shrugged it off. But unfortunately, Wyatt has been intermixing fact and fiction for several weeks now, and I can’t help but think that he enjoys pulling a fast one (or twelve) on the adults in his life. He hasn’t lied about anything serious, but there’s definitely a pattern of half truths, quarter truths and nonexistent truths going on here.

I stewed about Wyatt’s “program” story all night, and as soon as I could reasonably drag him out of bed the next morning, I did. We sat together at the dining room table, and I told him that he was busted. (He sulked.) I asked him why he lied to me. (Because he wanted to.) And I told him that he had made me sad. Did he like making me sad? (No, of course, he didn’t.)

I know this latest phase for Wyatt is perfectly normal. And I know it’s not the last time he’ll pull one over on me. He’s way too good at it not to try his luck a few more (hundred) times. There’s also a part of me that’s impressed by his imagination. The kid can spin a good tale, and there are lots of useful applications for such a talent. (Famous novelist, anyone?)

What this situation calls for is a little “channeling of energies.” Maybe a heavy dose of imaginative play will lessen his need to embellish his ho-hum life. Or maybe it will just make him better at his craft. Either way, he’s a good kid. And I love that little dude.

— Sarah