My six-year-old daughter, Boo, has spunk. In spades. Her imagination is extraordinary. She spits out phrases that could only come from ghosts or fairies in the night, whispering in her ear. I suspect she’s channeling an eighty-year-old Italian man. Or a pirate.
Boo has a wavering respect for truth. Sometimes, she fudges it, especially if she thinks she’s about to get in trouble. This is normal child development. For kids her age, the lines between fact and fiction aren’t always absolute.
From a writer’s standpoint, that’s kind of cool. From a mom’s standpoint, it can get irritating. If there’s milk all over the carpet, and Boo’s alone in the room, she still insists she didn’t do it.
One night at dinner, we decided to “make a point” about truth telling. My older daughter — who is a stickler for absolutes — told the story of “The boy who cried wolf”. I’m sure you know it. A young boy is supposed to watch the village sheep and keep them safe from wolves. When he gets bored, he shouts “Wolf!” just to cause commotion. The villagers come running with their pitchforks. No wolf. The next day, same thing. On the third day, there really is a wolf but no one comes when the boy calls. Alas, poor sheep.
The moral’s clear, right? Tell the truth, or there will be Dire Consequences involving all manner of teeth and claws. We have assumed this linear path, A to B, for centuries — the story has roots in Ancient Greece.
That’s not what Boo garnered from the tale. No, with the plot laid out before her, Boo said:
“Those people should really keep their sheep indoors.”