Friday, 21 May 2010

Pants on fire!

Can you believe it? Telling lies is good for you! Yes, fibbing makes you clever; telling porky pies can make you wise.

No word of a lie.

And that's not all. Ladies, you knew it all along didn't you? Men are better at it. They do it more often, about a wider range of subjects and are less likely to feel guilty about it. All of which proves, once and for all, men's superior intelligence over women. Doesn't it?

You can't deny the creativity of a lie. Writers are at it all the time. And they tell fibs as well. While truth has always got to be the best policy ('Oh what a tangled web we weave' are the words of one well practised in the art... you've got to feel sorry for poor Jean Armer!) fiction can be more exciting. Not that I'm advocating lying. But, as the Director of the Insitute of Child Studies, Toronto University, said: 'Parents should not be alarmed if their child tells a fib...almost all children lie.'

And she wasn't kidding.

Of course, it's part of responsible parenting to bring up children to tell the truth. And persistent lying can be a sign that something's wrong, especially in adolescence. But things are never black-and-white. There are times when 'little white lies' are more acceptable than hurtful truths, and learning that is an important social lesson too. And then there are the 'fun' fibs, like Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy or my solemn assertion the other day in discussing 'Get out of PE' notes with Sally, that teachers have to do a special course in pulling sceptical faces.

It went something like this:

Me: Do you think you'll be able to do PE today or do you want me to write you a note?

Sally: No, I'll be ok. Anyway, you should see the look our teacher gives you while she's reading notes like that.

Me: Doesn't she believe you?

Sally: Oh yes, she always says that it's ok... but her face says she thinks you're skiving.

As it happens, Sally wouldn't have been. Skiving, that is. She'd genuinely hurt her back a day or two before. At least, I think she had.

That's what she told me.

But how can I be sure?
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