"My daughter is a compulsive liar," my friend said to me last week. She was speaking about her kindergartner, whom we'll call Lucy.
"I was at a parent-teacher conference and Lucy's teacher asked if we had a snake."
It seems that during a classroom discussion about reptiles (or pets?), Lucy's teacher asked if anyone had a snake for a pet. Lucy raised her hand. When pressed further by the teacher, Lucy told the class that she has a pet snake, named Sparkle, who lives in a drawer.
"Would you bring in a picture to show the class?" Lucy's teacher asked.
"Umm, Sparkle doesn't really like to have her picture taken," Lucy explained. No cheap paparazzi shots for Sparkle!
My friend was horrified. I laughed. I told her I didn't think it was a big deal. And I admitted to her that I told my entire 4th grade class that I had a cousin who lived in Paris. (Hey, I was just a girl in Northwest Ohio looking for a little street cred!) My point was that I don't think she's raising a con artist, that Lucy's fib sounded more like a wish than a conscious effort to deceive.
A day or two later, I was flipping through the November issue of Parenting Magazine and came across this article, by Juliette Guilbert, about the big fibs our little people tell and why, in many cases, it isn't cause for grave concern. Guilbert breaks things down by age and discusses the types of lies each age group usually tells and how to handle it every step of the way. And she relates some great advice on raising honest kids from some childhood development experts.
Sparkle the reclusive snake has likely already coiled herself up in a forgotten corner of Lucy's memory. Lucy remains a vibrant, sweet and (mostly) honest kid. But the story of their brief, imagined cohabitation will be a funny one to tell the grandkids someday.