Fact Chucker

Dear Dr. Babooner,

My 7 year old son Jimmy has a problematic relationship with the truth.

He simply cannot leave a fact un-tortured, particularly if it implicates him in some kind of wrongdoing. Whenever we say he has done something, Jimmy denies the charges.

But that’s not the worst of it.

He also takes facts that dispute his claims of innocence and he re-imagines them as evidence in his own defense. When we challenge this mis-interpretation of reality, Jimmy goes on the attack and then retreats to a place of victimhood, saying we don’t listen to his arguments because we’re against him.

For example, last week we docked his allowance $5 to help pay for the repair a lampshade he had damaged while playing Frisbee in the house – an activity that is strictly forbidden. Jimmy immediately went into defensive mode, claiming that we had dramatically increased his taxes.

We pointed out that we were simply asking him to pay his fair share of the cost of rectifying a bad situation that diminishes us all (the bare bulb makes the living room appear very much like a gulag), and he called us socialists who are bent on stealing his wealth so we can throw it away on overpriced furnishings.

I offered that Jimmy would have no “wealth” without us, and he became very, very upset and called us “wards of the state.” My husband almost had a stroke and said if anyone in our house was a “ward of the state,” that would be our son, since we pay for the infrastructure that supports his very survival.

Jimmy then argued that he was, in fact, a “job creator,” because by knocking over the lamp and smashing the shade, he made work for the lampshade mender, whereas we did nothing for the economy but simply “handed money out and made demands,” like a branch of government.

I have never seen my husband’s face that particular shade of crimson.

Jimmy then pointed out that the Frisbee is something he purchased with his “earnings”. If we were going insist on penalizing him for utilizing this capital expenditure, the long term effect on the economy would be dire. He would have less incentive to by more Frisbees, since we seem bent on enforcing these unenforceable rules and regulations. The only logical choice for him would be to stop all his expenditures until the uncertainty subsides.

Sigh. We caved and took on the whole cost of fixing the lampshade but I’m concerned that he’s now learned to argue his way out of a bad spot and to never, ever accept responsibility for anything.

I’m not sure if he gets these embarrassing tactics from Republicans or Democrats, but I have noticed whenever we simply assert our authority because he’s only seven and we are, in fact, “the boss of him”, he asks to see a photo ID to be sure we are not just some creative and mischievous strangers determined to cause havoc.

Dr. Babooner, I’m concerned for Jimmy’s future when I see him willfully misinterpret the truth to press his own advantage. But perhaps I’m overdoing it. He’s only 7 and there’s plenty of time for him to outgrow this contentious behavior. Isn’t there?

Flummoxed in Fridley

I told Flummoxed that Jimmy could very well outgrow this fact-twisting phase, but she should hope he doesn’t! Political operatives in both parties are paid very well, and his ability to toss a fact so far away from it’s starting point that it appears to be a reverse of itself is a talent rivaling that of the greatest Olympians. Jimmy will do well in the Brave New World if he manages to keep his hubris.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

44 thoughts on “Fact Chucker”

  1. jimmy is what is wrong with the world today. the sniveling little sobs are the way the world comes to the arty these days. if there is no explaination for your bad behavior lash out and turn the tables making the accuser the accused. lying little twits get their comeuppins on the play ground but now in our more civilized world they instead get promoted to the head of the class for having the wherewithall to be able to
    retaliate with such an effective defense, never mind that it has nothing to do with reality, truth or intent. if it is effective that is what points seem to be given for. i think there should be a truth factor built in. if i make a claim that is harmful and deceitful to you and it is shown to be malicious i believe that all cost and effort to undo this wrong should be paid for by the wrongdoer. if jimmy thinks it is not a good idea to make up stories that take things out of context and reverse the real perspective then he should be taught a lesson. jon stewart or david letterman can have fun taking lines out of context and doing a cut and paste job to make us laugh but jimmy should be taught this technique for a comedy bit is not appropriate for an anchor to build your life around. it is a new mantra of jimmys ilk that will be the redefinition of slime. if you have enough money and enough followers to pay attention to your lies then you say them louder and more often and the reworked version of the lie becomes the standard of the platform. is this what life is about? it is a sorry state dr baboon. i think the foundation of the american dream is turning into a nightmare brought to us by boogie men hired for the soul purpose of scaring the general population with mexicans muslims and gays sneaking into your childs bedrooms and stealing them away in the night. the truth is that a child has been stolen out of their bedroom at night but the basis of that for a lead point build your life around is a bit odd and misleading. make jimmy pay for the lamp. take away his frisbee for a month and tell him if he wants to be credited with being a job creator you will apply his allowance to where he has done damage with his irresponsible mischiefmaking. that should be enough to have his purpose in life serve as a different version of focus on self and twist the ends justifying the means to more of an all things have a consequence type of message. jimmy could also be run as a model for planned parenthood and the fact that our children may grow up to be members of society but that doesnt mean contraception couldnt have saved the world a lot of trouble.


    1. Whoa, tim, that seems a bit harsh for that infraction by a seven year old. I do agree, however, that it was a mistake for FiF to have caved on the fine. A $5.00 fine and no Frisbee for a week would seem reasonable to me; a month is a very long time for a seven year old. And, the Planned Parenthood connection in this circumstance, forget it. I can just see the line of advertising that could lead to.


      1. if he owned it and showed remorse and changed hsi ways i would give his frisbee back before the end of its incarceration but i see no reason for leniency here. it seems the truth is 7 years is not enough time to learn whats right and wrong and 40 years later he will make a case for the fact that is wasnt his fault the other guy put the lamp right there in the path of his suv. did you notice how much jimmy looks like eddie munster?


    2. tim – I don’t think I’ve ever seen “comeuppins” in print before. Lovely. I was just discussing parenting styles in the car this morning with a friend. I have two sisters and we’ve each raised our kids very differently from each other. I marvel at this since we all three had the same two parents and presumably the same parenting model. I’m on the end of the spectrum with you…. at seven the child would have had a consequence, although since she was never as mouthy or argumentative as Jimmy, it would have more likely been loss of the Frisbee for a week. Allowance didn’t happen much – although she could earn money for jobs around the house that were outside her normal chores.


    1. i love john prine. i am listning to spotify and using john prine, lyle lovett etc to steer my invisable disc jockey. they do a pretty good job but the mix starts out pretty limited. when i watched dear abbey at the end it shows another fistfull of tunes many by john prine some by steve goodman or tom waits or some reasonable connection. i could go all day. the people at spotify do it for me. like pandora


  2. If this article (that I just read this morning) has any truth to it, perhaps Jimmy just needs more structure in his world – perhaps there are things happening at school or changes in his world that are making him fearful, causing him to lash out against authority and the lampshade: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=calling-truce-political-wars

    Or perhaps Jimmy needs a lesson in understanding that the lampshade is a finite resource that must be protected in order to maintain the everyday values and societal structure of the home. By assisting with the repair of the lampshade he is maintaining the traditional order and aesthetic of his family and home, not giving a Socialist handout to a bloated government structure.


  3. The sad thing for me today is I’m pretty sure, based on Dale’s track record, that this blog entry highlights something that has happened recently on the political scene… and even though I follow the news fairly well, I haven’t the vaguest about which “misrepresentation of the facts” he means. There are simply too many these days!


    1. Here’s just one of countless “misrepresentations” for you: Lyin’ Ryan stated yesterday that because of Obama, 1.4 million small businesses have gone bankrupt. A quick fact-check turned up only 47,201 bankruptcies. He was only off by about 1.350 million.
      Actually, this goes well beyond mere misrepresentation and straightaway to a LIE!


  4. Dear Flummoxed, you say this brat is seven? How can that possibly be good news? That means you have eleven years of this before you can kick his argumentative butt out of the house. My advice, and you might want to take notes on this, is to schedule a family auto vacation in some distant region. Look for a gas station that has electronic games. Set Jimmy up with a stack of quarters while you “put gas in the car.” Peel out, but don’t speed, for you don’t want to get a ticket. Put on a new set of license plates that you have hidden in the back of the car. Drive on back roads until you get out of the state. When you get home, shut off the phone. If you are lucky, Jimmy will give up trying to contact you. I


    1. How many kids have you gotten rid of in that fashion, Steve? Small wonder Molly is so well behaved if she was along on one of those family vacations where you were disposing of brats.


      1. I’m tempted to write a joking reply, but the truth is Molly was a great kid even when she was being a little difficult. I was never tempted to abandon her at a gas station. In fact, she only had one major disagreement with us in all the years we had together, and we manged to handle that one with civility (the issue was whether she would stay overnight with fellow performers at the Renaissance Fair). Rather than being eager to get rid of her, I enjoyed her and spent years dreading the moment when she would leave for college. One of the saddest days of my life.


        1. I’m in the same spot now, Steve. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not projecting a year from now when she’ll be away at college. Sniff.


        2. Our family went to the Renaissance Fair about a week before we took Molly to her college. The photos we took of that RenFair are hilarious, in a way, because Molly’s face is just a tragic mask. She could only think that this is the last time we’d be doing this as a family. Molly and I wept buckets when we actually separated.


        3. i imagine it might be hard when the last one goes but the first bunch were a snap. eauclire , eau claire , st thomas. see ya soon. the last one is in 6th grade this year so in the second yar of hillarys presiental run i will say good bye to emma but heck ill be 63 and ready for a little empty nesting. i recommend fish sherrilee. the proper amount of attention is required, some but not oodles. you have dogs so this will keep you distracted while you are feeling alone. not as much fun to have breakfast with but a good buffer with loneliness.


        4. I’m glad it was such a snap for you, tim. It sure helped that your kids didn’t fly very far when they left. Those are close colleges.

          Our circumstances were very unusual. Molly chose a college on the western coast, about as far from St Paul as she could go without being in the ocean. Why? She loved me so much and was so close to me that she needed to get away so she could develop as a self-sufficient person. That was wise of her.


        5. My experience of launching three children was tempered by the sheer number of times that they did indeed return, either for summer vacation, job loss, or in between attempts to live independently. It became a ritual with each leave-taking that Mom would stand on the steps weeping, “This is the last time you’ll live here” when, in fact there were probably a total of a dozen or more periods in which they returned briefly. Somehow, however, my emotional brain treated every leaving as “the final one”. I might as well have had a dozen children, each of whom left just once?


        6. It was hard for us when our daughters left.
          But the one that was odd for me was when I left Minnesota to go to college on the east coast. My mom, who never got up early, got up for breakfast. That was a big deal! And my dad took me to the airport. I was only allowed to call home once a month, because collect calls were so expensive, and I never had enough quarters for the pay phones. I came home at Christmas and at the end of each school year, and there was no bedroom for me when I came home. (Large family! A bedroom was an opportunity for someone to relocate. I slept in the living room or the basement.) So when I graduated, I moved out. It was the only way to survive. How’s that for a parenting model? (And yet, they did love us!!)


  5. Good morning. These days there seems to be no end to the amount of lying being done. I don’t know if Jimmy is old enough to be effected by most of this lying. He certainly should be guided away from lying. I think taking $5 dollars out of his allowance and also taking away his frisbee for a while would be okay. There is no guarantee that Jimmy will respond well to any attempt to guide him away from lying, but his parents should keep trying to correct that bad behavior.

    When it comes to politicians lying, that seems to be increasing and virtually all of them do it. Apparently fact checking doesn’t have much effect. The public needs to know what is behind the lies and we don’t hear very much about that. The big lies that seem to mostly be ignored are the bad ones. The idea that the terrible war in Afghanistan is being fought to preserve our freedom is one of the biggest lies.


  6. My advice to such parents is “Ask me no questions, I will tell you no lies”. By that I mean that it is a total waste of time for parents to try to get a child to tell the truth, as the begging and pleading for the tyke to ‘fess up only gives the tyke more power. I just tell parents to tell the offender they know what they did, here is the consequence, end of disucssion.


    1. I think you are right, Renee. They know they are lying and they know that you know. There’s no point to getting into a power struggle with them by extending the discussion about the lie or trying to make them admit to lying when they are being resistant.


  7. Well said, Renee. When parents take a stand, it is respectful to inform the kid of their reasoning. But that shouldn’t become an invitation for negotiating. I’ve seen seven-year-olds who were like little lawyers, highly adept at bending arguments to excuse what they’ve done, talking on and on to try to break down their parents’ will. Keep it simple, keep it short. Keep it authoritative. The kid will be happier for that in the long run.


    1. Yes. The heavy handed approach will probably just make the child more resistant to taking your advice. I don’t think it will necessarily turn them into two faced politicians, but it will probably not be the best way to set them on a good path.


  8. Was that not one of the most profound conversations you’ve ever been part of?? I’m talking about Bill Clinton of course. Oh, and the 7 year old? Get a friggin exorcist!


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