This is the newsletter I sent out to my email list in July… I don’t usually post it but the topic of the lies versus stories that children tell came up with a few parents I was talking to. I thought it was a good one to post.
Hi Mindful Mamas, Papas, Carers and Teachers,
I am bursting with excitement at the moment! I just got word that an article I wrote is going to be featured in Mama Mag. It should be hitting the streets next week. So, keep an eye out for it.
In the article I discuss my new workshop for schools and kinders ‘Books Alive” (follow the link to read about the stories being brought to life.) I also give a list of ways to bringing a good book or a fabulous character to life at home.
In our case dramatic play tends to happen anywhere and everywhere. I was starting to worry lately that my encouragement of role play has had one dire consequence. I never know when my children are telling the truth or a story.
Case in point:
A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter Leeloo said to her younger sister.
Leeloo: Hey Ziggy, did you tell mum about the kangaroo and the fox we saw when we went to the bush with Dad?
Ziggy: Yeah, we saw a kangaroo and fox. Awww, they were so cute!
Leeloo: But then the kangaroo ate Ziggy’s sandwich.
Ziggy: And I am never going to get that sandwich back again!! (cue hysterical crying now!)
Me: What a kangaroo stole your sandwich? W…(interrupted by further crying)
Ziggy: And I am NEVER going to get my sandwich AGAIN!!!(more crying with tears)
Me confused, bewildered.
They didn’t break character. Not once!
I finally asked my husband what happened in the bush.
Husband: Are you kidding I never believe anything those two say.
Their commitment to the story was staggering and hilarious. They do come from a long line of actors and performing artist so I guess this talent has been passed on.
The youngest is interesting because she has just started her storytelling segment of life. Up until a month ago she ‘told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth no matter what’ the consequences. For example:
Me: Who broke my favourite necklace!
Ziggy: I did. (No remorse in delivery)
Ziggy: Because I broke it (unfazed)
Her brutal honesty, now a thing of the recent past, always disarmed me and just left me shaking my head and trying not to laugh in-front of her.
Here is how I approach ‘The Stories’ or the ‘Porky Pies’…
I usually ask, after one or both have told me a story with questionable details, “Is this a real story or one of YOUR STORIES?” (Wink wink nudge nudge.) At this point the oldest will say, “HAHA tricked you!”
The youngest still tells everyone she meets about how the kangaroo and the fox took her sandwich so… we may have a ways to go with this one.
Am I worried I am creating lifelong liars destine for a life of crime?
No, they are just finding their creative feet exercising their imagination and inventive thinking.
I believe, when we introduce the real-world and stick to only the facts, too early, we rob them of the possibility that they will find a way to connect with the truth in a more meaningful way.
To be honest, when I have tried to correct some facts along the way, they haven’t believed me anyway. They are certain that the steps they have taken towards understanding something are valid. They are right and unless their conclusion is going to seriously end in destruction I generally let it slide.
Eventually, someone who they deem to be more knowledgeable than me, probably a kid in grade 5 or 6 or a teacher, will set them straight.
In some situations, I have had to make it clear when it comes to their safety or the safety of others they need to stick to the facts. Also, we have a rule we cannot makeup stories about others to get others in trouble. The old “How would you feel if the same was done to you?” doesn’t always work yet. However the “I am really concerned about this I better call (insert child’s name here) mother.” This gets to the truth pretty fast.
My recommendation is…
Go forth and create stories with your kids…Wildly unbelievable stories that may be based on little or no facts because when they are scientists, engineers, or politicians they will need this very important skill of dreaming up the impossible.
Then through action, in the words of a master…
“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”
Wishing you a week filled with mindful moments and impossible tales
P.S. Join my email list and receive a Mindfulness starter kit, of activities to share with the children in your life, now.