Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ah, the potty dance...

“No, Mama,” said Juli, dancing around with her legs crossed, “I don’t have to go to the bathroom.” 
“Juli…” I said, freezing her with a look, “Don’t lie to me – go potty right now.” 
“Okay…” she said with a longing look toward her toys.  “But, Mama, how did you know I was lying?” 
Well, let’s see now, Juli.  Maybe it was the way you didn’t quite meet my eyes when you said that.  Maybe it was the little dance you were doing.  Maybe it was the inflection in your voice when you protested?  Okay, so that’s a pretty easy lie to spot, I bet all moms of toddlers would get that one.  But I vividly remember teaching a young child years ago and NOT spotting the telltale signs of the potty dance before she sat on my lap.  Ah, experience. 
It’s funny, but this ability to spot these things is not confined to your own children, or even children you see on a regular basis.  I spotted a little girl in Target the other day with a strained look and the whole crossed legs, fidgety thing going on.  Her mother was chatting with someone and happily oblivious, but I guarantee you, I wasn’t the only one in the store noticing it.  I’m betting the security guards watching the monitors were already gearing up to get someone over there with a mop just in case the mom didn’t notice in time. 
Somehow, somewhere along the way, I figured out a way to tell if my daughter has to go to the bathroom without strip searching her and probing her stomach to see if her bladder is full.  And I can tell if she’s lying or hiding something with pretty good accuracy.  Most kids get better at hiding things as they get older – but most involved parents get better at predicting.  I know my parents always seemed to know when something was amiss.  Sheesh, even my husband can spot any prevarication on my part a mile away. 
“Honey, did you rest today?” 
“Um, well, uh, MOSTLY…” 
There are other lies out there that aren’t as easy to spot, but we figure them out pretty quickly. 
Juli!  Did you just hit your brother??” 
“Uh…. No?” 
“Juli… did you take a cookie without asking?” 
“Um… well, I think Alex did that.” 
“Juli, is your room clean?” 
“Um… well… are you going to go check it?” 
And then are the times when they flash you that guilty look and you know they’re up to SOMETHING – you just don’t know what.  It just takes a few questions to get to the bottom of it. 
So what does this have to do with anything?  Well, Neil and I were discussing TSA the other day – and whether we would go through the body scanner or have a physical search – and while we didn’t agree on what we would personally do if faced with the TSA choice at the airport, we did agree on one thing – there HAS to be a better way to do security.  Let’s see, a naked picture or some extended groping.  What a fun thought.  Welcome to America.  For now, the two of us are determined to avoid recreational flying.    
Talk about an inefficient way to spot a liar or a terrorist!  Let’s just randomly select a bunch of preschoolers and feel their tummies to see if they have to go to the bathroom!  I don’t profile my students (although I must say, the youngest ones do seem the most susceptible to accidents, sorry if I just offended anyone…), but I do ask some of them from time to time if they have to go to the bathroom.  I don’t randomly select them… I read the signs.  (And I haven’t had an accident in my living room for a long time.) 
I read an article about how the Israelis government screens for terrorism in their airports – they train their agents to spot people who are nervous or lying.  What an excellent idea!  But does it work?  Well, they haven’t had a breach in security since 2002.  That’s a pretty good track record, I’d say.  (Check out http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199---israelification-high-security-little-bother if you want to read an article on it) 
Maybe the government needs to spend some time on training their people to spot liars, smugglers, and terrorists.  If they can’t get the Israelis to come train us, I bet they could hire some moms…

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