Dear Social Media: Please Invent A Button For Things I Simultaneously Like & Unlike At The Same Time
The Plastic Wrap That Ate New York City

"Teachers Don't Have Phones."

And with that, the question over whether or not he was telling me the truth was answered. 

We caught Noah in his first big, sustained lie yesterday. The details are exhaustively boring, but suffice to say he'd figured out a way to game his token/reward system at school and make us think he was earning more points for good behavior than he was. Then exchanging those points for treats at home like playing video games or getting some Halloween candy. (That is not actually from Halloween, but just what the boys call candy year-round here.)

I'd grown suspicious and questioned him a few times, and he remained consistent with his cover story (his teacher couldn't find the stamp so she marked his paper with a crayon instead) and insisted that he was telling the truth. 

"I promise, Mom," he'd say, cooly and calmly, with perfect eye contact and an earnest, dimpled smile.

That was what made me back off, every time: the eye contact. Noah remains a jumble of different quirks from both on and off the Spectrum -- at his last IEP his teacher said she absolutely didn't want to change his diagnosis code from the catch-all "Developmental Delay" yet because she simply cannot figure him out, because he simply ISN'T just one thing or the other and doesn't seem to really fit any of the "usual" codes -- but eye contact is a big deal. If he's upset or overwhelmed in the slightest, it's the first thing to go. 

But yesterday the cover story took a turn for the improbably convoluted. I listened to him chatter on, asked a question and sensed the teeniest, tiniest bit of "OH SHIT MAYDAY MAYDAY" in his voice as he quickly tried to backtrack -- yet his words never seemed to fail him, and he continued to speak clearly and articulately. He wasn't making sense to me, but in a different way. There was no hint of his word retrieval/processing problems; he just sounding like a typical kid attempting some verbal gymnastics while trying to assure me that I'd misunderstood the first version of events he'd just described.

Finally, I told him I was going to call his teacher and ask her about it. He jumped back three feet and froze. "Don't call her," he whispered. 

He wouldn't tell me why he didn't want me to call her. He repeated the story again. He promised he wasn't lying. 

"Why don't you believe me, Mom?" he asked, his voice so full of hurt that I wavered again, because if there's one thing Noah is not, it's an actor. He still won't wear costumes or pretend to "be" anyone during play, and he gets unnerved when Ezra incorporates emotions into their games, like fake crying or anger.

But still, I didn't believe him because my gut didn't believe him. The developmental stuff was a convincing smokescreen, but if I pushed it back and stared at the piece of paper covered with suspiciously childlike scribbles that he insisted were done by an adult, well. Come on, dude. 

I repeated my intention to call his teacher. 

"You CAN'T!" he wailed.

"Why not?" I asked. "Is she going to tell me something different?"

"No! I don't know!" he paused. "You can't call her because...TEACHERS DON'T HAVE PHONES."

Aaaaand there it was. The wheels were falling off. We'd hit the limits of the logic ceiling. 

I gave him another chance to fess up -- I assured him that I cared much, much more about the truth than I did about how many points he was getting at school, but that there would be definite consequences and loss of privileges if I had to find the truth out from someone else.

Instead, he opted to double down. "I am telling the truth," he said, with a perfect poker face.

I went upstairs to get my shoes on -- we needed to leave in a few minutes for his occupational therapy appointment, after all -- but apparently Noah thought I was calling his teacher right then. Jason found him staring up after me with a look of nervous, stomach-churning agony. 

I was halfway back down the stairs when the confession started. 

"I just wanted more Halloween candy," he admitted.


Lying is bad and wrong, of course. And being lied to by your child is annoying. Choosing punishments and reinforcing the importance of the truth while curbing your own white-lie fibbing habit is an exhausting and not-particularly rewarding part of parenting.

But oh, you guys, it's also just so normal


tracey just another mom

I am smiling for you because YES! Yes, it is awesome to have your kid be naughty in a way that you expect!

And (BONUS!) he told the truth! Hang up your Mommy hat for the day. You definitely earned YOUR points.


Oh man, as an SLP I am just GRINNING from ear to ear! YAY NOAH! I mean, not really, but yes, really!


Normal indeed. And probably too adorable to keep a straight face. I remember when my oldest daughter tried to lie her way out of cutting her little sister's hair, despite the evidence being all over the bathroom.

They both turned out great by the way. :)


Oh my. I feel your pain. My son is ASD w/major OCD. He tries to lie, looks you in the face too but there's just a look that comes on his face, you just know he's lying. I tell him he must tell the truth or the punishments are more severe (as in an extra game taken away). He always, ALWAYS, outs himself. I secretly hope he always tells on himself, that the guilt continues to eat away at him. At least then I know he feels *something* moral. Eep.

Even though it's normal, it still hurts us parents a little when it happens. Good luck!


Absolutely, beautifully normal (right down to the just wanting more candy :)


Echoing Tracey! Yay Noah and Amy!


"Teachers don't have phones."

Good save Noah! He is intelligent and very cool under pressure. When he is not using those powers for evil they will serve him well in the future.


Yes, yes and yes. I also love/hate the feeling that, yes, I know you are lying because I'm your mom and I just know. No matter what amazing perfectly logical explanation you think you're coming up with - I know.


(For the record, even though it seems like everybody so far gets what I was *trying* to say, I actually attempting a couple re-writes of that last sentence after hitting publish because I feel like it's awkward -- or like I'm implying that kids who don't lie are ABnormal, which holy God NO.

This was more about me realizing that I could actually STOP running everything Noah was doing/saying through the filter of his quirks and, my kid is telling me a complicated, semi-plausible yet totally hilarious lie and I can approach this exactly the way I would approach any kid telling me a lie.)

Keri Always

My 11 year-old almost went down in flames over a simple lie about not using a calculator to do her math homework. I can't do 2-digit multiplication without pen and paper, and she expected me to believe she did 837x498 in her head?

"I did it on another sheet of paper." where's that paper? "I threw it away" get it out of the trash "I can't find it" look until you do "I don't know where it is" keep looking "WHY DON'T YOU *EVER* BELIEVE ME?!?!" {scalp splatters on ceiling, brains shoot from my ears}

It's a good thing we love them, right? Otherwise, mine would be left for the dogs to raise.


yeah, just a normal kid. :-)

Nancy Gould

my fave:
"Instead, he opted to double down. "I am telling the truth," he said, with a perfect poker face."


This is a hoot, and I don't mean to make light of the lie, because, you know, but YES. It's so totally normal and kind of, sadly, funny.

Adam and I were lying in bed last night talking about our ridiculous little three-year-old lying liar, and how she tells half-truths sometimes ("I put the cookie in my mouth, but I didn't eat it." ORLY, SAM?) or sometimes, flat-out lies. (See: the time I found my makeup bag emptied on the floor, mascara on her face, and she saw me, leaped to her feet and announced, "I'm just brushing my teeth!" I DO NOT THINK SO, SUNSHINE.)

I can't imagine the relief you must feel watching a completely normal developmental milestone come to pass like any other kid would handle it. Bravo, Noah, for . . . lying. Oh, dear. Heh.


Amy.. I think you should just add your editorial comment to the post...for future story reference.


Wow. I'd say he's brilliant. I mean, for a kid that age who had previously been pegged as "differently abled", it sounds awfully normal to me.


Yes! We special needs moms just see things so differently. When I found a sea of ver expensive shampoo on our bathroom floor, my first thought was: "What excellent problem solving to climb up and get it and wonderful fine motor control to unscrew the lid."

Of course she had to help clean it up and I made a big show of what a BIG mess it was. But inside I was proud.


Oh hell yeah! This is one of those parenting moments when the "we're screwed" is because you see your kids tasting success at outsmarting you (or at least see the wheels turning in that way). Im a school psych and I brought a developmental inventory home to get familiar with for a student, and watched my 18 mo old maneuver his way throught the tasks, and when there was something he physically couldn't do, he'd change the demands of the task and use the materials his own way. Stubbornly, creatively: i was proud but filled with dread of all the creative ways he's gonna try and get us when he is older.


My sister tried to convince my mom that our room was a mess once because the flying pigs did it. Kind of awesome, but definitely not a good lie. Unfortunately, that skill was picked up later by both of us, I only used it when the automated school recording would call to tell my parents I had missed one or more classes.


Hooray for the developmental milestone! ...and sorry he's good at it. Congrats, anyway!


We haven't gotten to the involved story telling yet but frequently get the deer in the headlights 'I don't remember'. Dude, it *just* happened. Did you push your brother? "I don't know." Are you kidding me child, I stood right here and watched you! *breathes*
Glad that it was, you know, normal but wish the lying in general wasn't. If that makes sense. Probably not. Okay, I'll shut up now.


I totally get it. My own quirky kid is I think just now at 3.5 figuring out how to lie to save his own butt. His default is absolute truth telling, like a narrator, with no emotional attachment to the good or bad of the story. His preschool teachers totally don't get that about him or that we are used to it and they have tried to soften stories from school, not getting that we have like a little movie version for our son. Ha! He will innocently tell on anyone, even gramma. Or at least that is who he was until recently when I realized he has started filtering his stories for me in a way that looks like lying. It's interesting and a little fun for me, when maybe it shouldn't be. Enjoy this new frontier.


Last year I heard the my teacher has no phone lie.

It makes me so happy for you that you got this one too. Because it's so very normal. So very six.

Noah's a good kid. He may be quirky, but hey we all are. I love getting to see him grow and change over the years.


Totally goes with your post title from the other day about simultaneously liking and not liking!!! Not liking the lying and liking the "normalness" of the situation.

Booo Lying!!!
Go Noah!!! (and mommy too)


Oh, so very normal indeed!


Actually, teachers don't have phones because after the kids go home at night, they go into the coat closet and power down...where they sleep until the janitor turns them back on in the morning. What?! I know it's true, cause my kid told me :)


Lying sucks but oh what a wonderful feeling (sing it! sing it, I command you!) of it just being...normal. And it always kills me when the wheels fall off, when they haven't yet reached the point of "this can't make sense, lemme try to make my lie better." Also, maybe some teachers DON'T have phones, damn you. Candy!


And HOORAY for normal! :)

(you know, except for that whole lying thing.)

Korie B.

Go Noah!


This is so awesome!!


I kind of love this story. Because of the normalcy. Because it reminds me of my first lie - which, yes, I remember telling - and I know exactly what he was feeling and can now also imagine exactly what you were feeling too. Which is weird.


I burst out crying at my desk when I read that last sentence....

Mom In Two Cultures

My ASD kid has gotten really good at lying, too. It's unnerving, particularly the part where he lies for no apparent reason other than to see if he can pull off the lie. Sigh.


This is fantastic!!!!!!!! Also, I read that the younger kids start lying, and that is really well done lies, which this sounds like, the smarter and more intelligent that kids will be when they grow up.



This is fantastic!!!!!!!! Also, I read that the younger kids start lying, and that is really well done lies, which this sounds like, the smarter and more intelligent that kids will be when they grow up.



Totally normal and smart! I would be secretly cheering.


this might be my favorite Noah story of all time. He is damn precious and you are a fab mommy.

I'm smiling


Yeah, it IS kind of cool that he managed to (almost) pull that off. Isn't it amazing how you can be disappointed and impressed by your child AT THE SAME TIME!?


My son's too young to lie yet and I secretly hope he'll be the truth teller...but that's because I'm a first time mom!

Love this post! be normal...isn't it just...wonderful!


Mom of a quirky kid here. I was thrilled the first time my son lied because it is so normal. My husband was upset and didn't understand why I was happy. A lot of kids on the spectrum will never lie. They are 100% black and white. It wouldn't even occur to them, to lie.


lying is such an important achievement! Socially skilled children lie and they learn to lie for many good and sometimes bad reasons. They learn from their interactions and from watching adults/their parents. People learn to lie to spare others feelings, to be polite, to look better to others, etc. It's not always good, obviously. A book by Po Bronson: Nurtureshock talks about lying and how punishing lies does not help. Praising honesty tends to improve honesty. Po Bronson also says that we shouldn't force kids to lie by saying things like, "Did you do this?" when you know they did, this will only encourage them to lie to you because they realize the consequences of telling the truth- so therefore telling the truth means punishment in their minds. It is much better to explain what was wrong and explain what would be right. Anyways, it sounds like you did the right thing though, by telling him that you didn't care about the candy or anything except the lying, go Amy!


I totally get it! I am a preschool AS teacher and when my kids really start talking and telling their parents "no!" our hearts fill with joy! How adorably, annoyingly typical.


Normal is GOOD!!!! :)


This is great. My little one is still is still in the 2.5 year old let-me-tell-you-everything-I-did-that-was-naughty-today phase of his little life, and while I enjoy coming home to choruses of "Mama - poke sister eye" and "Mama - poop floor" and my all time favorite "Mama - pee Sofia" (which recounted the time he peed all over my 8 month old), I think it will be neat to see him get the social awareness he will need to lie for more candy! Great post. Little Noah is a champ.


i get it. i get that need and want to look at your kid with the same glasses as every other parent. not wanting to have to filter the crap because your kid is 'special' ... congrats. it is an amazing feeling when we let our filter slide away and we are just a kid with a parent, nothing special .. just the SPECTACULAR. keep looking for the balance, and God Bless


Another mom of quirky here. I remember the first time my now 10YO sassed back at me with delicious snarkiness. It was backtalk to the nth degree but it was clever. It reflected a level of social understanding that I wasn't sure was there before. And I totally smiled and giggled with my husband - before sending the kid to his room. Go Noah (and Amy & Jason)!


SEE! He's a REAL boy!
You make me laugh, sometimes I cry. But I always stop by.

Kelly Ozley

I did chuckle... okay a lot. How clever is that little guy. My daughter loves to lie to me -- usually when she wants candy. "Mommy you be so bootiful now"... mind you I have just come in from hot yoga... and I know dat is not true.
Love your blot.


Yep, totally got it, Amy. What a great Noah story. The things parenting will lead you to celebrate are weird, but we all have those moments, don't we?


Yay! and awesome!


LOL that's fantastic. The guilt did actually sink in after he thought you were calling the teacher but fessed up, priceless. Indeed you will be able to stop filtering him through his quirks soon enough.

Robin from Israel

Go Noah go! I could totally have written this post. I could never quite decide with my own quirky+ kid whether to be angry about the deception or secretly thrilled that they'd thought of it and carried it out, just like any other kid would.

Choose to see the good in it for your sake, and then set the consequences for his ;).


I didn't have Noah's sensory issues, so this is more of a "normal" lying story, but once, in 5th grade, I blew off studying for a test because my grandmother was coming into town. I went to a pretty rigorous school, and was the Tracy Flick of the class, so blowing it off was a big deal.

When I came in, I told my teacher that I studied the wrong chapter. He didn't miss a beat before reaching into his desk and grabbing the test for the NEXT chapter - the one I claimed to have studied for.

That was an important lesson in tying to bullshit your teachers.


I'm actually really happy to hear this! Lying is something I hear Autistic kids can't do, hence, my longing for a lie from my Noah. But, the forward thinking he had to do to manipulate this situation shows very positive growth in him. Congrats Momma ... did you punish him ?


I totally understand. I teared up at that last sentence. I hope that someday I can have that sort of sense of relief about some things. I mean, we're getting there. But we aren't there yet. son's only 3 1/2. So maybe by the time he's 6, we can celebrate a normal thing like a lie to get more candy!

Plano Mom

You guys are gonna be sayin' "Teachers don't have phones!" for the rest of his life.


Completely off-topic...
I'm reading through archives right now and typepad or whatever randomly tosses in photos from the future into your posts. Office pic becomes baby pic in a flash.
Technical error for sure, but since I've been reading faithfully since Noah was teensy and the sole kiddo around, it's sort of extra poignant to read about the babyless angst with flashforwards interspersed. Sort of wish there was a little window like that for tough situations in real time...


I am sitting here in pearl-clutchy horror!! LOL -- I've got two kids-- one lies like crazy to the point I believe NOTHING she says (12 years old and I guess lying about using a calculater to do your math is a common occurance in this country..) and the other devolves into a puddle of tears if she even attempts to lie (she's 15). Amalah, I will stay tuned with rapt attention to see how your other two turn out... And I certainly didn't need any other editorial about what you meant in the last sentence or two. Your sentiment couldn't have been clearer.. right on and write on, Amalah...


Normal. And I remember doing it myself... Good for you for walking him through it.

Big Gay Sam

I was too terrified of my mother to lie. Nothing scarier than a bipolar woman with perfect aim.


It really can be so weird how grateful we can be when our kids do something like this. I completely get where you're coming from. Yay Noah! hehehe. I mean - Lying is bad Noah. But, yay! ;)


I could always tell--EVERY TIME!-- when my children were lying to me because they would look me straight in the eye, never dropping their gaze. Somehow, they must've gotten the idea that to shift their eyes away was a giveaway that they were not telling the truth, so instead, they would both give me a steady stare as they lied away. EVERY TIME, I'm telling you!


My 2 boys did the same thing before,they trying to cover up their mistakes..
After several hours of questioning,younger boy can't help it but saying the truth.


My 2 boys did the same thing before,they trying to cover up their mistakes..
After several hours of questioning,younger boy can't help it but saying the truth.

Helen Spencer

They can only hold it for so long. It's a sign that you've raised them with a conscience. No bad thing at all! - family stories past and present


hmmm, we eat Halloween candy around here until about Easter, then Easter candy until Halloween. Seriously.

Amelia Sprout

You know that was what I thought as I was reading that. How normal of him. That is so awesome! You know, not the lying part of course... but the normal part. Hehe.


LOVE this post


Isn't that great! He can lie! I mean, sort of not, because it's lying and all, but how cool is that? With eye contact and everything! Well done, Noah!

P.S. - This being the innerwebs, this comment could be read as very sarcastic, but it isn't meant that way at all. I get the joy that he's doing something 'normal' at the 'right' time. I would be aghast to find out you'd read this and thought I was being sarcastic. So now my disclaimer is longer than my comment. Who's 'normal' now, huh? Yeah. Not me.


Noah is awesome, and amazing, and this is funny and wonderful and cool.

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