But that is the bare truth of it. Around about now, children learn the ability to lie. And my daughter is doing it in spades.
"Did you take those sweets when I told you not to?"
"No Mummy. [sound of crunching sweets and the rustling of a wrapper being shoved under a pillow.]
It's so hard to deal with. I know, because had there been a prison for tiny prisoners, I would have been placed there many, many times. My life of petty crime was sustained, and extremely petty. I stole: an eraser from a shop, a party popper (which I then let off in the car, forcing mum to stop thinking we had a tyre blow-out), a brass bracelet from a play group and untold sums of coins of small denominations. Shocking.
I also would cheat at any board game I could get my hands on, even Cluedo (and that is difficult). I used to lie to everyone about truly trivial crap.
In short, I have enormous sympathy for my daughter and feel a hypocrite for having to chastise her. Do I come down on her too hard (like my stepfather used to, with the effect of alienating us from him) or too soft, like my mum, in which case there is no effect at all.
My friends have been of no help either. Apparently, their children are of such high moral fibre that they never do such things. They seemed so shocked by my daughters sneakiness (pilfering stickers when told not to etc) that I feel as though my child must be the only one on the planet to have told a fib.
I was getting in quite a state about it, until I spoke to my sister yesterday. She laughed when I told her my worries.
"For God's sake. When I was six I told the mother at a friends birthday party that I wanted to take two party bags for each of my two sisters. I then proceeded to eat all the contents myself until I was sick. I have not been sent to Holloway Prison as far as I know. Lighten up."
It was just the advice I needed.