December 25, 2008

Lies, D**n Lies

There are lies, damn lies - and statistics.

Lies, now there's a harsh word. Lying implies intentional dishonesty, malice of forethought, purposeful deceit. Jeff is more a purveyor of truthiness*. In past, I have greeted Jeff's truthy pronouncements with a cheerful, "That sounds like a tall tale" or "I find that impossible to believe!" However, as Jeff's speech/language skills have improved, these responses have become an invitation to embroider and embellish further. Sometimes, it's best just to remain silent. Or assure others that Jeff is not a credible witness, despite his emphatic protests.

I have since come to recognize three categories of "Jeff stories":
  • Tales so outlandish to be immediately disbelieved. Jeff remains committed to his story that there is a certain downtown garage that gives out electric car blankets if you park there--for free!

  • Tales that might possibly be true, but require further due diligence. Jeff's school social worker emailed me to ask about Dad's new pet bird, which Jeff described to her in vivid detail. Unlikely, but possible.

  • Tales I know for certain to be false. "We are out of milk!" No way! I just bought a new carton. "We are out of milk!" You were with me at the grocery store. "We are out of milk!" Please open the refrigerator yourself, if you don't believe me.

On the other hand, if Jeff relays bad news, it's the honest-to-goodness truth. Jeff can describe a car accident he saw with details and accuracy of a news reporter. He will announce a trip to the Principal's office before saying hello. This week his doctor, who hadn't seen Jeff in a while, asked, "What do you do for fun these days, Jeff?" Without hesitation, "Break toys."

*truthiness: as coined by Stephen Colbert: the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.

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