We do not have a kitchen table. We have a table in the dining room. It is therefore a dining room table. Call it a kitchen table, and Nora will correct you.
A hamburger bun in not bread. It’s a bun. Call it bread and Nora will correct you.
Nora does not have gloves. She has mittens. If you ask her to put her gloves on, she will tell you she doesn’t have any.
Nora is not four. She is four-and-a-half. Call her four, and she will swiftly correct your ass.
While it’s tempting to laugh off her demands for precise speech, instead I’m reminding myself that this desire for accuracy is a developmental milestone — and it’s tied to lying. She knows a thing or two about how the world works now, and she knows when someone isn’t telling it like it is.
Nora knows how to lie to get herself out of trouble, but she doesn’t altogether understand lying. At this stage, anything anyone says that isn’t completely accurate is a lie to her. When I call the dining room table a kitchen table, I’m lying; therefore lying must be okay. This concept is explained quite well in the book Nurture Shock. (You can read my synopsis of the chapter “Why Kids Lie” here.) When I read the book about a year ago, I remember thinking I would surely need to revisit the information when Nora began displaying more signs of experimentation with lying. That time has come, friends.
So, in effort to be a good model of honesty, I take her constant corrections of my speech seriously (albeit with an inner smirk). “Oh my, yes, you’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking.” At this point, explaining the nuance of imprecise speech versus intentional lying would only confuse her — or worse yet, make it sound like lying is justified. So I act confused instead.
Now watch it backfire and she just ends up thinking I’m a complete idiot.