I've Been Duped by a 5 Year Old

I used to be a reporter. I was a man who was paid to be confronted by an issue, to wade through the deceptions and discover the truth and then promulgate the truth to the people. Yeah, I know.

I must have gotten a little rusty as my five year old came down the stairs this morning claiming to be sick. Now, mind you I've got four other kids. I'm no slouch at telling if kids are faking. If any kids are reading this, the dead giveaway is the overacting.

My now nine year old daughter used to come down the stairs each morning like a multiple stabbing victim. It was so common that the other kids would grade her performance many mornings. Each morning she felt she had to come up with a new symptom. These new symptoms didn't replace the old symptoms, they were simply added to as if she was the victim of some calamitous disease. One morning, the poor girl was running out of distressed body parts, so she was forced to complain that her hair hurt.

That symptom has become a family joke in the house, and code for faking sick. If anyone comes down saying they don't feel well the others will ask them if their hair hurts.

But anyway, the five year old didn't come down the stairs overacting. She simply walked right up to me and said her stomach wasn't feeling well. This was strange. I'm used to wincing, groaning, and acting as if they're attempting to hold their spleen in their body by pressing on some vague part of their stomach. I asked if she wanted to try eating and she said no. I told her that she could have a cupcake for breakfast if she agreed to eat. She didn't even blink. She said no thank you.

I'll admit it, it was the thank you part that sealed it.

So I let her stay home. On our way home after dropping the others off at school, she asked to go to McDonalds for breakfast. I reminded her she was sick and she actually said, "Oh yeah."

She's now playing Wii with a Batman cape on.

I've been duped. But she's not getting that cupcake.
*subhead*Sick kid?*subhead*


  1. Thanks for the laugh! She's obviously learned a few things from her older siblings' successes and failures. My younger daughter used to throw herself into my arms whenever I was angry with her about something (she was about three, I think, so I probably wasn't that angry) and sob, "Oh, my poor baby Mommy!!!" The older one used to hide in the lazy-susan cupboard with her back to the corner and say, "I staying in here so you can't weach my bottom!"
    Now we have a two-year-old boy (number 4) who seems to think he can vaporize his opponents by aiming his sister's binoculars at them--and growling.
    I love being a mom!

  2. Ha Ha Ha! I have one who used to be a bit of a hypochondriac. Once she said that her hair hurt. We use that phrase as a joke in our house too!!! We also regularly ask her if her boogers hurt.

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  4. Don't worry. I fell for this one last week. The high schoolers were off on Monday. The 3rd grader felt left out and claimed to be deathly ill. Since I was still recovering from the worst cold ever, I believed him.

    Only later that day did the high schoolers and my husband tell me that the 3rd grader is "always" sick when the high schoolers are off.

  5. HAHAHA. Love this!

    I have an 8-year-old sister who, whenever it's time to clean up, claims that her 'legs hurt' and that she's 'tired', but then is perfectly well when it's time to go shopping.

  6. Did you suck as a reporter as much as you suck as a blogger? You're an ignorant piece of trash.

    1. What in the world is your problem? Did someone wee in your wheaties or what?

  7. "She's now playing Wii with a Batman cape on."

    ok...that's a problem. No reprecussions for lying to you?

  8. no, a child lied to her parent, and got exactly what she wanted in telling the lie, and everyone thinks its cute. It's not cut; it's appalling. She learned a very clear life lesson...lie, get away with it, everyone laughs, I get what I want.

    If it'd been my mom that I did this to, had i been 5, 8, or 15, she would have driven me home, got me dressed, taken me back to school with the admonition that I would have no TV, friends over, or play for a week...just study and reading of books she approved; and if I did it again, it would've been for a month. I learned quickly that lying is a bad thing, not a cute thing. And don't assume you know my home; it was full of laughter and light, a mom (who knew and told every joke in the world) and dad who loved each other, and brothers who were, well, brothers, but we all loved each other very much. We said our prayers every night, and I saw my father kneeling at his bedside every night in prayer. Our code of conduct revolved around God's Law and especially the Ten Commandments, and breaking any of them was a serious matter. Not a cute anectdote to be shared to the sounds of appalling applause.

    Do ya really think God didn't mean them? Tell me "anonymous', what part of thou shalt not steal is cute?...how'bout Thou shalt not commit adultery?...looks like a whole lot of today's adults thought that one was a laughing matter too.

    I'll turn your question back at you, "What in the world is your problem?" (besides hiding your opinion behind the 'anonymous' tag?)

  9. When I was in school, my mom would let us stay home whenever we said we felt sick. The catch was since you were sick, you had to stay in bed. All day - no TV no computer no playing. You could read a book and that was it. Even lunch was brought to us on a tray....we didnt stay home much unless we were really sick. (I had a few serious illness as a first grader and i was allowed to watch TV then...but those were rare occasions)

  10. btw i posted my comment before i saw susan's. My story was just meant to be funny...not a critique on anyone's parenting. I am sure Matthew is a great dad :-)

    1. I'm sure he's a worthless dad who needs to stop reproducing.

  11. wow...you guys really take things to the absurd. I'm sure Matt's a wonderful parent, I'm sure he's a great guy, but I think it's totally ok to point out that this wasn't cute or deserving of lauds. I can't believe it's even an argument on one of the leading Catholic blogs to say that a child (of any age) shouldn't be rewarded for lying. It's not cute; it's a bad lesson. How is that deserving of rebuke?...I mean go ahead and rebuke all you want, but it's really become a parallel universe living in this country.

  12. Susan:
    The Catholic Church teaches that a child usually doesn't reach the age of reason until around 7 years or so. A child of five is not normally held accountable for her "sins" since she can't really understand what she's doing. (In fact, she may very well have felt a minor tummy ache at the time and not realized it was one of those fleeting things rather than an illness.)

    In any case, the story is cute not because a child of five lied to her dad and got away with it (gasp!) but that an experienced dad missed the cue that the tummy-ache was minor or non-existant.

  13. Freddy...you clearly didn't read anything I actually said. I don't have a problem with the child; kids will push the envelope to see what they can get away with. That's where we, the adults, are called to teach the relevant life lessons. I have the problem with a dad rewarding the lie. Just like I'd have a problem with a dad rewarding a little stealing, or a little cheating.

    It's not cute. She learned (and yes Freddy, 5 year olds are capable (gasp!) of learning) that a lie got her what she wanted, and dad published a story about it, and everybody's laughing and saying how cute the whole thing is, except that mean lady who's saying that rewarding a lie is wrong. What the heck is wrong with that mean woman?...she's so not nice, talking about Commandments and all that utterly irrelevant and mean stuff. She makes us feeeeeel bad.

    p-a-r-a-l-l-e-l universe.

  14. Sometimes one of my kids will complain of queasiness in the morning, but an hour or so later, the queasiness passes, and a salty snack starts to look pretty good (hence, perhaps, the sudden craving for McDonald's). Usually I'll hear, "I really did feel queasy when I got up this morning, Mom, but now I feel better." Since I homeschool, it's pretty easy to say, "Well, now that you're feeling better, you can get started on your schoolwork for today." If I had to take my kids to school, I'd probably let it go for a day and send him or her back to school the next day.
    I wouldn't be too quick to assume that Mr. Archbold's five-year-old daughter was lying.
    You're right, Susie, that lying ought to be punished, if the parent can prove without a doubt that the child, in fact, felt fine from the beginning and was lying to get out of school.
    You're not a big meanie, though. If I found out one of my kids had lied to me about feeling sick (and didn't just have a passing case of queasiness, which, for some reason is kinda common around here--could be my cooking), there would be no computer time or TV/movies.
    Maybe Mr. Archbold is just giving his five-year-old the benefit of the doubt, since he can't get into her stomach or her head and prove that she never felt sick to begin with.
    Don't know, though, since I can't get into anyone's head (other than my own, and sometimes that's enough of a challenge).

  15. Oops. I just realized I called you "Susie" instead of "Susan." Sorry about that. Should have double-checked. :)

  16. Sarah,

    that's ok...I actually usually go by Susie :)

    I get what you're saying here, but it doesn't really square with the way the article was written; its title is "I've Been Duped by a 5 Year Old" which implies pretty strongly (as does the rest of the article) that the child was purposely 'faking', and her dad was taken in by it, and was in fact, pretty impressed with her 'ingenuity'.

    No, we can't get into other people's heads, but if that was the requirement for disciple and moral teaching, there would be none. Anyway, my whole point all along has simply been that as the article is written, I didn't think the lesson was cute or laudable. I realize it's not popular in the 21st century to stand for very clear and consistent moral teaching, even from very young ages, but that's ok; I'm not the least bit concerned with being popular in the eyes of men. And I think I have some pretty good company. :)

    God bless you, and thank you for the kindness in your response. Your kids are blessed.

  17. Well, Susan, I actually did read everything you wrote. I even understood it. You don't think Mr. Archbold's article is funny. You think he's morally permissive, rewarding his child for lying, teaching her that she can lie and get away with it; even achieve the dubious honor of the fleeting fame of a blog post. You think that the fact that he and others think this is a cute, funny story is What's Wrong With the World. You think that you are one of the Lonely Few who are bravely Standing Up For Unpopular Truths.

    I'm well aware, Susan, that five year olds are capable of learning. I have a five year old. In fact, he's my youngest -- of seven -- all of whom are Catholics in good standing, thank you very much. I'm also aware that children need to be taught good behaviour and the difference between right and wrong before they are capable fully of understanding it.

    That said, I am aware, as you still do not seem to be, that in the eyes of the Church, the child is not culpable for a lie -- so why on earth should she be punished for it? I'm also aware, having read the article, that she was not in fact rewarded for a lie, if there was indeed a lie, either: Mr. Archbold clearly stated that she wouldn't be getting the cupcake.

    The sad thing is, Susan, that you want to set yourself up as some kind of martyr ("What the heck is wrong with that mean woman?...she's so not nice, talking about Commandments and all that utterly irrelevant and mean stuff. She makes us feeeeeel bad.")when no commandment was broken or even twisted and no one is advocating either.

  18. I agree--and I'm grateful--that mind-reading isn't a prerequisite for effective discipline and moral teaching. And the way the article is written does imply that there was some deliberate "duping" afoot. I think there's also something to the argument that at age five--before the age of reason and, hence, culpability for sin--there are mitigating circumstances.
    But I don't think anyone would disagree that even at such a tender age, the child must be taught not to lie--and that there are consequences for doing so. Mr. Arcbhold, being the father and having seen the look on his daughter's face would be best able to determine whether or not his daughter was lying or just trying (ultimately unsuccessfully) to hide the fact that she was no longer queasy. ;)
    In any case, your children are also very blessed, and thank you for your reply! God bless you and your family.

  19. Some children, of course, can appreciate right and wrong by four or five. However, many are not so capable. Traditionally, under the common law seven was recognised as the age when a child could be held criminally responsible for his actions. Up to 10 or 11 years, responsibility in a particular case could be contested and the Judge would examine the child to ascertain whether in the particular instance the child lacked sufficient moral understanding.

  20. Freddy, seriously...relax. you're gonna pop a blood vessel.

    And Sarah, A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours. Hug your family extra tight...the world is being set on fire all around us. The Light and Grace of GOd will be our stronghold.

  21. Thank you, Susan, and a blessed Thanksgiving to you, too! :) You are so right!

  22. Susan, thank you for your kind concern. Pax, and have a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving.

  23. Gosh, I'm so confused. I thought it was a cute story, not a morality lesson. I was raised by a tough mom who didn't let us get away with transgressions. I raised my son the same way. I still laughed at the story. If the story had been written as a serious parenting article on raising moral, Catholic children, I think the author would deserve being taken to the woodshed. But this is a blog, and sometimes it's okay to be frivolous. Lighten up, get the twists out of your knickers, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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