Lauren was in 3rd grade when we went to an Open House where her teacher had hung a bunch of the kids’ biographies in the hall outside her classroom. The kids had illustrated them and written different facts about themselves, like how many siblings they had, if they had pets, what their house looked like, their favorite foods, etc.
When we located Lauren’s poster, we were confused because this Lauren C. used to live on a farm, loved softball, and had a dog named “Rocky.” None of which applied to the real Lauren C. We laughed and thought, what the hell?
Later, when I asked her about it, she said (and I quote): “Oh, Mom, it doesn’t matter. They don’t know anything about me, they just want me to fill in all the blanks.”
I laughed and gave her points for creativity and, if we’re being honest here, ingenuity and common sense because why waste too much time or brain power on busy work, right? Just give the man what he wants and move on, right?
A decade later, I can see that the “About me” incident foreshadowed the next 10+ years of little white lies and half truths and flat-out false information that she relies heavily on.
It’s a pretty common trait in those with ADHD. It’s rarely malicious or intentionally deceptive, but more a means to get out of “trouble” quickly with the least amount of hassle.
For years, it drove me nuts. It still does. If you don’t want to do something, just say you’re busy. You don’t have to say that your cousin is having a birthday party. You don’t have to say that you have an ear infection.
I’ve repeatedly explained to her that when she lies to protect someone’s feelings, it actually hurts them worse if/when they find out she lied. But, she doesn’t seem to get it. Mostly because she doesn’t think she’ll get caught or just isn’t thinking that far into the future.
Another ADHD trait: Impulsiveness. Those with ADHD tend to not think to far into the future, so future consequences don’t deter (or even occur) to them. Consequences like remembering their lies or getting caught in a lie.
As much as her lying bothers me, I’ve always known that it wasn’t entirely intentional, but more a means of self-preservation, which is exactly what this story—Fight, Flight, Freeze… or Fib?—from ADDitude Magazine points out.
So, if you know Lauren (or any kid with ADHD) and she’s lied to you in some way—an embellished story, a long-winded tale about why she can’t go to some event, or even about verifiable facts, like how many siblings she has—know this:
“Often, a “fib” or “fabrication” does allow an individual to avert a present danger or threat, at least for the time being. The escape from fear, embarrassment, judgment, guilt, or shame provides a brief but powerful sense of reward (or escape/victory).”
She doesn’t mean to deceive you as much as she’s trying to escape something….be that boring worksheets, a social situation that makes her anxious, or perceived judgement.
That still doesn’t make lying OK, but understanding why she does it, sheds a whole new light on the subject.
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”