Sometimes my son has a tricky relationship with the truth.
I don’t mind so much when he tells stories about things he’s “read” or “learned in class.” Some of them may be true facts, but others are either misunderstood or bubble up from a vivid imagination, and occasionally I wonder if he can tell the difference.
But other times he insists on, shall we say, “alternative facts.” He misremembers things we’ve said. (“You said I could watch tablet after dinner!” “Dude, I never said that.”) He misremembers the way things happened. (“We went to the park yesterday.” “Actually, that was Tuesday.” “No, it was yesterday!”) Or he says things that are wrong, like that birds lay eggs in the fall or that it’s snowing when it’s actually raining. And that’s not to mention actual lies, like fibbing that he’s washed his hands or brushed his teeth.
I eventually realized that, for my sanity, I had to pick my battles with my son. I had to learn to let little things go. This is hard, given that my father has always been dedicated, not just to the truth, but to the complete, factual, correct truth. He can get rather pedantic. We both tend to fall into the habit of logically working out whether something is true rather than, say, checking the recipe. My best friend once said to me, “Wow, you just have to be right, don’t you?” And after I took a good hard look at my ego, I realized that it isn’t just that I have to be right–I have to be 100% factually accurate, or I feel like I’m lying.
Bring into this mix a six-year-old who loves facts (one of our nicknames for him is Small Fact Boy) but doesn’t always get them right, or rewrites them to suit himself, or doesn’t want to admit when he gets something wrong, and you have trouble.
Here’s the thing: Now we have a whole presidential administration devoted to alternative facts and creative rewriting of the past. She didn’t say that. He never talked to that person. My crowds were bigger than his crowds.
All day, I get to be driven crazy by the way this administration messes with reality and perception. Then I come home and get another dose from my 6yo? Oh, hell, no. I was beginning to feel like my son was turning into Donald Trump.
Then I realized that what my son is doing is developmentally appropriate. This is the age when they lie to get out of washing their hands, and insist on things more loudly so they can “win” arguments, and take the words that come out of your mouth to revise them in their own heads.
The problem is not that my six-year-old is turning into Donald Trump. The problem is that Donald Trump is acting like a six-year-old.
And, of course, we love to slam politicians for acting childish. But President Trump really is acting like if he denies the truth enough, or shouts his version loud enough, or lies to people’s faces, that he will get away with it. These are the actions of my actual six-year-old. What’s shocking is that, in a way, Trump does get away with it. No one has deposed him as CEO of his company. The Electoral College voted him into office. No one has impeached him.
My son will grow out of this phase, even if our president doesn’t. In the meantime, I grit my teeth, pick my battles, and sometimes let the boy get the last word. Sometimes.