Smart Mama: Kids Tell Tall Tales

“When I was a penguin,” Benny told me recently, after we read a book about penguins. “I had all my friends over to my home. And then a monster came. And then ....”
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“When I was a penguin,” Benny told me recently, after we read a book about penguins. “I had all my friends over to my home. And then a monster came. And then ....”

My boy likes to talk. A lot.

You know that part of "SpongeBob Squarepants" when a voiceover drones "five hours later" and shows Patrick and SpongeBob doing the same mindless activity? Many times throughout the day, I hear that voiceover in my head. While I do laundry, clean the house or check e-mail, my little son is trailing behind, still telling me about the time he saved the day. Benny’s stories usually end when it’s time to eat dinner or go to bed. There is also a grouchy intermission for about two hours after naptime. "And then ...."

Not much of what comes out of his sweet little mouth is true.

He might tell you about the time he was a train. “Oh,” you might say, “you mean, the time you rode on a train.”

“No! I was Benny Train. And then helicopter came. And then there was a fire!” His brown eyes will stare into yours, sincere as pie. The only hint you’ll have that he’s spinning a story is the quivering of his lips while he thinks of what to say next.

When Jon comes home, he always asks Benny about his day. “We went to the park and I got a new toy and I ate a lollipop. And then ....” Jon will look at me, eyebrow raised.

“Didn’t happen,” I’ll undoubtedly say. “We went to the grocery store and played with Legos.”

(Of course, he never fails to tell the truth when the truth involves retail therapy. “Mommy bought a new dress! And shoes!”)

I’m not worried about this storytelling. It’s just a cute trait of my newly turned 3-year-old, who is just getting the whole imagination concept. I remember Emma, who is 6, having some ideas that blurred reality and fiction when she was his age. Such as that if she closed her eyes, she disappeared. Now, she only wishes that actually worked, especially when I catch her eating cereal out of the box.

Emma’s imagination is profound, but she’s got a high expectation for truth from those in her family. (So if you tell her we’ll talk about whether she can have more TV time after dinner, be ready to discuss the topic as you chew your last bite of potato.)

Benny’s storytelling drives her crazy. “Benny! You do not have a dinosaur in your bedroom.”

Already this cute little trait in Benny is subsiding, soon to be something we laugh about after the kids are in bed. Like, "Remember when Emma used to yell at the floor whenever she fell down?”

Just the other day, a nice old lady asked Benny for his name. “Benny Vrabel,” he replied.

“And, Benny, what do you want to be when you grow up?” she asked.

Oh, no, I thought. Anything could come out of this boy’s mouth — a fire truck, a monkey and a rocket ship have all been past answers.

But this time, it was Benny who was surprised. “Benny Vrabel!” he answered.

Beth Vrabel lives in West Manchester Township with her daughter, Emma, 6, and son, Benny, 3. For more Smart Mama columns click here.

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