It’s amazing to me that my four year-old has such a well developed personality, no matter his mood he can gather the attention of everyone in a crowded room. I am beginning to think that he will either be a thriving con-artist or a celebrated actor. One moment he is telling us how his friend’s dad shot someone in their front yard and in the next breath we find out that he has told his whole class that he learned karate from a sensei in Japan. The daily pick-up from school has become my newest comedy fix, I don’t know what else to do but laugh. Cheetah has become so good at ‘pretending’ that teachers and friends believe everything he says. He has told the teacher that his dad is on the television at night, I like to be called ‘Master’, I let my him get a real tattoo on his back (he had a tattoo that lasted more than 2 months), and that he gets to eat ‘packing peanuts’ if he’s good at school all week…I am sure that the school is building a file on us as I type away.
After one particularly entertaining evening of storytelling, pouting, and door slamming, I called my mother to rehash and vent. I began describing all the ‘I won’t be your best friends, ‘it’s not fairs’, and the ‘you are breaking my hearts’ when I began to hear laughter. I was calling for sage advice and she was laughing, “Mom really, I don’t know what to do, he has more attitude that most 15 year-olds and the pretending is out of control!” Taking a breath she replied, “I know Jane, I am YOUR mother.” Hmmm, never really thought of it like that…I was beginning to understand. Oh Lord am I in for it. Between my attitude and personality and those of my husband there better be a small country somewhere saying ‘round the clock’ novenas for us. We are going to need them.
I have tried to explain to him that pretending is when you act like someone you are not or do something you normally can’t do and that when you tell a story that’s not real it’s called lying. I was pretty impressed with that ‘rule of thumb’ I passed along until I was reading him his bedtime story and he asked if the monsters in the book were real. Of course I said ‘no’ and quickly he pointed at me and sang, “Ooohhh you are telling lies”. So I’m back at square one, apparently to a toddler there’s a thin line between lying and pretending. It’s like explaining why something is stinky; ‘It just is’. Maybe it’s good (this is me trying to convince myself not to worry) that he is having a hard time telling the difference. Maybe he’ll end up doing something incredibly creative, earth shattering even.