Roman did something amazing today- he crossed a developmental milestone, even if it was just a gingerly step over the threshold.
Learning to lie is a survival skill set that babies learn as early as age two and hone through the years. Whether to avoid consequences or to spare feelings with white lies, this is an important survival skill.
And falsehoods come especially handy when one must politely thank someone for an epic gift fail (like when your French college boyfriend gives you an industrial strength facial hair waxing kit for your birthday. <-- Actually happened to me. It had a wax filtration system, y'all.)
Lying demonstrates theory of mind - sometimes called intuitive psychology or mind-reading - the ability to see beyond oneself and grasp that other people have distinct emotions, thoughts, and motivations. And guess who's best at lying? Survey says: the popular kids. *shakes fist in a fit of high school PTSD*
And because the ability to lie convincingly - by commission or omission - is a critical social skill, it correlates directly with social status.*
Lying skills are often underdeveloped in kids with autism though,** who are notorious for telling the filter-free truth. Even when it hurts. Like when I was giving Roman a bear hug a few years back, and he drops this gem on me: "I can see your mustache, Mom." Perhaps you can guess what I did with that gift from college? *twirls end of handlebar*
So today, my husband and I are talking at the dining room table when I see Roman cross the far end into the kitchen. He's doing that stealthy Scooby Doo toe-walk. And out of the corner of my eye, I see spider-like fingers thread through the gap in the door jamb as Roman starts to slowly close the kitchen door without being seen.
This triggers my maternal alert system, and although he is doing his best to be invisible, I break the fourth wall to warn him not to pinch his fingers. He pulls them out of the gap and catches the door in the middle by the woodwork, closing the door like a rock climber working a ledge with his fingertips.
"Romi, why are you being so shy?", I ask, feeling like a hermit crab has just adopted our kitchen.
Then he peeks through the doorway at me, smiles, grabs the doorknob and closes the door. Mmm-kay. Jeff and I go back to our chat.
A few moments later, Roman opens the door again and hustles back through towards his room. Except I hear a rustle, and he is holding his front pocket in an odd way.
He is concealing something. I do a mental inventory of the time of day (before dinner) and of the kitchen contents, and I know. He's taken a cereal bar (or a "candy bar" as he calls them), for a litttttle walk. I smile to myself. Snack access usually requires prior authorization.
"Romi, whatcha got there?", I ask as he rounds the corner into the next room. "Nothing else", comes the reply over his shoulder as he heads for the stairs.
And I am stoked- this is one time I am happy to be lied to.
PS California does hot dog and fries right- served in a cardboard car.
PSS By the way, lying to solve the pressing problem of an empty stomach seems a culinary crime of the most innocent variety. Am I right? ;)
* Speaking of high school, Journey could done just as well with: don't stop... deceivin'... (Or could they have?)
** This brings to mind the old Roman saying, "liar, liar, pants for hire." Sigh.