EXAGGERATE: to enlarge beyond bounds or the truth; overstate
Saturday’s family swim session didn’t go as planned. We arrived on time, suited up and hopped in to a delightfully warm pool that was well stocked with noodles and other floatation toys. All signs pointed to a delightful afternoon of splashing and fun.
But, about ten minutes into the frolicking, the Band-Aid that was on Son’s toe came off. He was distraught.
He looked at me accusingly and said, “I told you I needed a new Band-Aid yesterday!”
It’s true. He did.
I dismissed his complaint and told him that we would get a new Band-Aid when we got home.
He objected with a loud, “My toenail is going to fall off!” and held his foot up for inspection.
Holy smokes! His toenail was going to fall off!
He told me his toenail was falling off the day before when he was concerned about his Band-Aid getting loose and asked for a replacement. But, I didn’t believe him. I thought he was exaggerating in order to get another one of the uniquely shaped Band-Aids he likes so much.
See, I have this problem sometimes with Son. I assume that he communicates like I do. When I say, “My toenail is falling off!” that can mean anything from: “I stubbed my toe and it hurts” to “I could use a pedicure.”
I got the exaggeration gene from my father. I have observed that it is a gene with diminishing returns. When my dad tells a story, I generally divide whatever he says by a factor of ten and assume that is closer to the truth. I like to think my exaggeration multiplier is much lower – perhaps a two or a three. But, Son did not inherit the exaggeration gene; Son doesn’t have an exaggeration multiplier.
When Son says his toenail is falling off, he means HIS TOENAIL IS FALLING OFF!
He doesn’t exaggerate. He doesn’t embellish. He doesn’t milk a story for a laugh or a gasp.
I’ve learned this lesson before.
The time Son choked at school and his teacher had to do the Heimlich maneuver, he didn’t even mention the event in the day’s highlights. The closest he came was to request that I leave the dried apricots out of his lunch the next day.
Or, when the pediatrician asked at his six-year check-up how old he was and Son answered, “Five.” Not 5 ¾. Not almost six. Five. After all, his birthday wasn’t until the next day.
If you are looking for a witness who will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth I can recommend Son.
If you are looking for a Mom who is still learning to hear her kid’s unembellished words as if they are followed by three exclamation points so that she reacts appropriately – follow the lady in the black swimsuit walking the boy with the partially detached toenail back to the locker room after a very short swim.