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For a four year old, truth seems a fungible commodity. She can and does generate more than her fair allotment of crocodile tears, but remorse seems to live only almost as long as the typical anemic fruit fly. She personifies expediency, equally savoring ill-gotten and properly-earned gains. She plays her grandparents as if the price tags still hung limply from our straw hats. She plays pretty much everyone, for the universe does in fact circle around her.

Pure ego must need such innocence to thrive. I lost that innocence long ago, trading up or down, depending upon your perspective, for more of the other stuff. My shriveled sense of self benefits from these immersions in a four year old’s centrism, though I’m apparently unable to replicate it for myself. I remain the boss, however, in matters involving permissions, even though I know full well she’s often misrepresenting her needs. She’s teaching me to say “No!” more emphatically, but also more lovingly.

Should that ego remain unbridled, she’ll puncture her inflated sense of self. Should she not learn to be ashamed of her self, and why, she will remain not merely innocent, but ignorant, for only the truly ignorant are capable of shamelessness once they reach the age of maturity. She, and I, have much growing to do.

I’m working with the idea that I might accept whatever she tells me as the truth, the whole stack-of-bibles truth and nothing but. I believe she might well receive the most powerful consequences from lying if I merely presume she’s always telling the truth, rendering her into a spiffed-up version of the probably apocryphal Boy Who Cried Wolf.

She sometimes wails with wounded pride when denied even the smallest request, but I seem unable to shake her wonder. She looks at me as if I were somehow magical, and seems to trust even my most outrageous inventions, perhaps because life’s more fun when experienced as a richly-populated fantasy. She smirks, of course, showing that she can and does discern between my facts and my fictions, much as I can usually distinguish between hers, but she hops on for a ride, anyway. Later, we’ll laugh at our abject foolishness and forgive each other’s useful trespasses. The lies tell on themselves, accepting their mock punishment, then proceed on into the next story. Truth is, we know no other way to live.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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