One day your kids wake up and they’re one person, the next day they wake up and they’re entirely someone else. They’re someone completely different. One day, they’re these sweet innocent balls of humans and the next they’re rowdy, smelly, sweaty, mouthy little things. Their baby cheeks are gone. The gaps in their baby teeth are gone. Their clothes are covered in dirt. Their hands have been god knows where. And their mouths are running 100 mph with actual words and full thoughts. Or, in Matty’s case, elaborate lies – er, stories?
Last Friday afternoon, Matty turned a page in our book of fun known as life. I was sitting in Seth and I’s bedroom folding clothes when Matty came in and snuggled up on the bed beside me. We had had long day, we had taken a trip to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum that morning followed by lunch at the state park, and he was worn out. As he snuggled up next to me he said, “Mama?” in the sweetest voice and looked up at me with two big puppy dog eyes.
“Dada told me to shut up.”
“Dada told me to shut up.”
“He said to me, ‘Matty don’t be a pansy or I’m going to tell you to shut up.'”
“WHAT?!? Why would he say that?”
“He’s naughty. You don’t say shut up.”
“You’re right, you don’t. Let’s both go talk to Dad and you can tell him he hurt your feelings.”
Partially fuming, partially so fucking confused I walked into the living where I found Seth watching golf. He could tell by the look in my eyes something was up.
“Your son just told me a very interesting story.”
“Oh God. What was it?”
“What did you say to him?”
“Well that’s not what he said. He told me you told him to shut up, that you told him not to be a pansy or you’d tell him to shut up.”
“WHAT?! He asked to watch an episode and I told him to go ask you if he could watch it in there.”
Seth was laughing hysterically when Matty entered the room.
“Matty come sit here next to your dad and tell him what you told me.”
Matty marched across the room right up to Seth, looked him dead in his eyes and said, “Dada, don’t tell me to shut up. I don’t. like. that!”
Seth and I both held back our laughter.
“Matty, I didn’t tell you to shut up.”
“Yes, you did.”
“You said, ‘shut up, Matty.”
“No, I did not. You know lying will get you in trouble right? What did I say to you?”
“You told me ‘Don’t be a pansy. Shut up, Matty!'”
“Matheson, you asked if you could watch an episode and I told you to go ask Mom. I’m in trouble with Mom because you didn’t tell the truth. That’s not okay. Lying will get you in trouble and it can get other people in trouble, too, and then nobody will want to be your friend.”
“Well, you did tell me –”
“Matheson. I did not. Stop lying.”
The conversation went on for a while before Matty, in a round about way, admitted he had lied. Part of me was happy because I finally had a good reason to ask Seth (again) to stop telling people to shut up (it’s a pet peeve, you guys) and the other part of me was concerned. Nobody wants to have that kid. Nobody wants to be friends with the boy who cries wolf. And no parents wants their kid to be an outcast (even if it is because of their own annoying tendencies – insert strong eye-roll here).
Researching all of the reasons toddlers lie made me face the truth that, even though I want to say it’s because of his active imagination, we are entering the thick phase of sibling-induced jealousy. Abbott’s nearly 19 months now. He’s running and playing and talking. He gets carried every where and Matty gets carried no where. Whenever Abbott provokes Matty to do something he shouldn’t (pushing and shoving or the occasional hitting), Matty gets in trouble and Abbott gets a stern “No, thank you”. They’re best friends and mortal enemies at the same time. They’re so much alike but still so different. We may have become a family of four a year and a half ago but Matty is feeling the change in our family dynamic now more than he ever has, because Abbott is finally capable of stealing some of that only-child attention he’s used to getting.
I hope this phase fizzles out before it really begins but something tells me it will only get worse. Hopefully, if anything, Matty’s lies will become more about fake achievements than throwing people under the bus though because sweet jesus – that is a parent-teacher conference I do not want to have.