So much has happened the past two months that I'd love to talk about, but a lot of it would require individual back stories (i.e., the struggle that was my thesis magically resolving once I decided to ditch it in favor of something else; how the big kiddo is adjusting to kindergarten, etc.). I honestly don't think I have the presence of mind for it.
What I do have is a temporary need to stop thinking about my thesis, after looking at the latest revisions, and finding out it's not as bad as I imagined it might be, but not a walk in the park either. So here goes a story about the three year old and the emergence of white lies.
Mr. V started telling whoppers around his third birthday. It all started with me putting some chalkboard paper on his walls so he'd have something to scribble on when the mood struck, or so I could put notes on it, like "need more diapers" or the like. Almost immediately, someone "mysteriously" made a game of pulling it off the wall. Frustrated, I joked to the toddler "Don't tell me! Daddy did it?", only for Mr. V. to respond with "Yeah. I told daddy not to do it. But daddy did it, and I'm sorry." I thought it was funny until I told the husband about it, and we looked at each other and it dawned on us: this kid can lie. Not convincingly, but he's already got it.
Having a kid on the spectrum, this is a new one. At best, my daughter lies by omission. She might not tell you something bad happened unless you directly ask, at which point, the truth always comes tumbling out. Creative lying, on the other hand, is beyond her, and while she can spot when other people do it, her reaction is to shrug it off as more of the silly stuff people do, which is a step up from her preschool years, when she would routinely quip "mommy, why did [person] just lie?" in the loudest voice she could possibly muster.
But Mr. V has been at fancy tales and imaginings for as long as he's been able to utter multiple sentences, which has been about a year now. He'll come up with things out of nowhere like "Mommy, I'm gonna steal Parker's* baby.", which prompted an explanation about how Parker would miss his little sister, not to mention that Parker's mommy would never allow it. And there's also the times when he comes up to me and says "mommy, I wanna be a baby today." and sticks a pacifier in his mouth (this from the kid who actually never used the self same pacifier as a baby, but discovered it in a drawer last spring and wondered what it was).
So why should I be surprised that we have made up an evil robot who does bad things? It started with an epic head butting at bedtime. The husband had supervised bathtime, and Mr V was in his PJs and ready for bed. The toddler got passed from arms to arms as happens a million times. Only, sometimes he gets excited about reading time with me, and he wiggles. He even wiggles a little jig sometimes. Even knowing this, I held out my arms a fraction too long, and somehow his head connected with my mouth. Hard. My teeth still hurt, even though nothing seems broken. My bottom lip is still quite fat, nearly 24 hours later.
In the moment, I was in such pain that I started screaming and crying out of ... well ... pain. I handed Mr V back to his dad and ran off to the bathroom to make sure my front teeth were still where they should be. Mr V burst into tears because (a) the impact must have hurt for him too and (b) he was worried about me.
Five minutes later, I got to his room, Mr. V got on my lap, and I could talk through the pain, even though tears were still streaming down. I held him and tried to kiss his head through the side of my mouth, while telling him it was ok, everything was going to be okay. Within 5 minutes he was calm, and even trying to brush out my tears. And then... "Mommy? Daddy told the bad robot to trip me. Then I hit you and you got hurted."
"Buddy, it wasn't a bad robot. It was an accident."
"No, mommy, it was the bad robot's fault. He's mean."
"Baby, no. An accident means it was nobody's fault. I didn't mean to hit your head, and you didn't mean to hit my face."
"I know. It was the bad robot."
"No, no, it just happened. That's why they call them accidents. Hey, are you ready to pick out a book to read?"
I honestly thought the bad robot would just be forgotten. But this morning, as I was driving my tot to preschool, he pipes up "Mommy? Sam's family got stealed by bad robots, and he had to go be a ninja." I reassured him that there was no bad robot, and that Sam* would be at school ready to play cars, the way he always is. "But what if the bad robot comes to steal you and Giada and daddy away when I'm at school?". I replied that the bad robot could never, ever steal us.
"Yes. I'll just make him go away."
He seemed to believe me. For now, at least, no tall tale can measure up to the fact that mom can be pretty adamant about no one being stolen away, or bad robots making us do bad things. Let's hope that lays the bad robot's evil deeds to rest.
*Names changed to protect other presumably innocent toddlers.