So now, at 4 years plus 3 months old, Henry is waist deep into lying.
It started a couple of weeks ago, as we were reading William's Doll, a book written in the 70s about a boy who wants a doll, and although his neighbor and older brother make fun of him for it, his liberated grandmother--looking smart in an orange-and-brown plaid suit--finally buys him the blue-eyed baby he yearns for.
Henry was quiet for a few minutes after we finished the book, then said, "I told Theo I want a doll, and he laughed at me and called me a stupid-head." Henry's eyes were downcast, his voice tinged with sorrow. It was a very convincing story.
Except that I know Henry, and I know that despite years of me pushing dolls on him, he has never shown even a flickering interest in them. He likes real babies, he likes certain stuffed animals, and he likes dressing up like a princess. But if he were in a room of only dolls, he would simply run in circles to entertain himself. It is as if dolls do not exist for him.
So I was suspicious of his doll story. But he repeated it to Simon, and then to my mom, and I began to wonder.
Then a couple of days ago, after Henry had been stomping and growling all evening, I asked him if he was stressed out about school starting. Henry climbed into my lap, and said, in that same small, sad voice, "Well, the other day I was playing with this little school, and my teacher called me an idiot."
This I did not believe, even for a second, which was all it took for the story to change to the teacher grabbing the toy student from him. Then it was his friend Brighton grabbing the toy student and hitting him. Eventually we distilled it down to Brighton taking the toy student after Henry sent the student down the toy slide. No grabbing, no hitting, no teachers calling Henry an idiot.
I proceeded to explain the importance of telling the truth, how I can't believe him it he tells me things that didn't really happen, how other people could get into trouble. He nodded thoughtfully and asked, "Is Chewbacca a good guy or a bad guy?"
Last night my sister was babysitting, and Henry gave her an elaborate story about how I make him wear pull-ups at night because it is too hard for him to climb up and down the ladder to his bunk bed for nighttime bathroom visits. And, you know, Henry hasn't worn pull-ups in months. I didn't even know we still had any pull-ups in the house.
"But he was so convincing," said my sister.
So, fabulous. He's not just a liar--he's a very good liar. Can you imagine what this kid will be like as a teenager?