Me: Rollie! What's going on in there?
Me: Why is Baby Elsa crying?
Rollie: I don't know.
Elsa whines something unintelligible, yet oddly indignant.
Sighing, I put down whatever it was I was doing and stalk into the playroom, where Elsa is on her back, hair in her eyes like a sheepdog, her chubby cheeks apple red and tear-streaked. Rollie is stationed by one of many Rubbermaid toy bins that have been multiplying like dirty laundry around our house, his fists triumphantly clutching a plastic car and a toy dog.
Me: What happened? Why is Baby Els on the floor?
Rollie: I don't know what happened. She just fell down.
Me: No way, Rollie Scott. That is not what happened. Did you push her?
Elsa sits up and rubs her head, still whining in that expository babble. She sounds like a hysterical drunk lady trying to recount a bar fight.
Me: Did you hit Elsa on the head?
Rollie looks around the ground as if trying to come up with a convincing story somewhere within the carpet fibers.
Rollie: I guess she just knocked herself down.
Me (kneeling down in front of my slippery little worm of a son and looking him in the eye): Rollie, I am trusting you to tell me the truth. Did you hit Baby Elsa on the head?
Rollie: ...Well...I guess Elsa bumped her head on my knee, but my knee is all right, Momma.
I try not to smile, mainly because I am in the midst of a quickly growing trend that I am trying to nip in the conniving little bud: Rollie is turning into a liar.
As you know, the lies kids tell start out small. Initially, all they lie about is whether or not their diaper is dirty. And once they start potty-training, they will lie about whether or not they have to use the bathroom. These lies are automatic, inherent, and seemingly harmless. "Oh, you don't have to use the potty after drinking fifteen juice pouches? Okay. Fine. No skin of my back if your bladder is crushingly full, kid. I'm not the one doing the Pee-Pee Dance. I can wait all day for you to finally admit that you'd like to use the bathroom. Except after awhile I might make you take your lies outside so I don't have to clean anything up off the carpet."
Rollie finally past all that. Finally. Now his lies are branching out into uncharted territory. Now I have no real means to verify his tales. Now I am venturing into the realm of actually having to trust him to be honest. This is a scary place. I've never had to rely on the veracity of a preschooler before. And it's a bit terrifying. Sorta like a gas station bathroom...the kind you have to get a key from the cashier for.
Sometimes I have to piece together the crime scene to deduce what has really happened. Like today when Elsa and Rollie were playing in his room. I heard Elsa crying and I went in to find her sitting on his bed rubbing her head, and Rollie sitting on the floor across the room, innocent as a lily. At first I figured Elsa must have just bumped her head on the top bunk, but she was babbling far too angrily to have sustained a self-induced injury.
Then I noticed a few objects lying on the bed that looked out-of-place. A shoe. A lego. A bouncy ball. They all looked like they had been thrown there. By someone from across the room. Someone right-handed. About 40 inches tall. Last seen wearing a pair of Diego undies and a look of calculated ignorance.
Me: Rollie, what did you do?
Rollie: I don't know.
Me: Why is Elsa crying and rubbing her head?
Rollie: She hit her head right here. (He walks over to the bunk bed and taps it on the side, where it would have been physically impossible for her to reach. Man I feel like Columbo. Jessica Fletcher. Matlock. And suddenly like a 63-year-old shut-in.)
Me: Rollie, I want you to tell me the truth. I'm trusting you. Did you throw something at her?
Me: Not maybe. Did you throw a block at her and hit her on the head?
Rollie: No. The shoe hit her on the head.
Me: The shoe you threw hit her on the head?
Rollie: Hey Momma, shoe and threw rhyme.
Me: That's great, but that's not what we're talking about.
Rollie: But they sound alike, Momma.
Me: Rollie, why did you throw a shoe at Baby Els?
Rollie: I didn't want her on my bed.
Me: Rollie, that is no reason to throw anything at her. You never throw things at Baby Els, or anyone else, either. Do you understand?
Rollie: Baby Els and else sound alike, too.
So I'm thinking about creating a new board game for moms. Kinda like Clue, where the players have to reconstruct various crimes based on evidence, excuses and whether or not the perpetrator has taken a nap that day.
Crime One: You walk into the bathroom to discover the toilet paper is completely unrolled, the bathtub faucet is running and your box of tampons is scattered all over the floor. Your two children are in the other room watching TV; one of them is wearing a wet shirt and the other is sucking on a tampon wrapper. Which of them is the guilty party?
A: Perpetrator A--The one in the wet shirt.
B: Perpetrator B--The one sucking on a tampon wrapper.
C: Neither--Perp A's shirt is wet from spilled juice, Perp B pulled that wrapper from the garbage can. You were the one who turned on the bathtub to draw your own bath, only you were interrupted by the dog blowing a snot rocket all over the floor and in your haste to grab some toilet paper to wipe his nose you pulled too hard and unraveled the entire roll. The tampons spilled out of the box when you angrily rifled through the bathroom cabinet for some disinfecting wipes to clean up dog snot from your tile floor.
I bet we could even turn it into a drinking game. Now there's an idea....