Our neighbors have a six year old who has spent the past year learning the difference between fantasy and reality, exaggeration and lying; and joking and lying. This is actually challenging developmentally. Five year olds can still tell fantastic stories and adults will indulge them. After all, these kids are just on the edge of believing in the tooth fairy.
But we expect more as a child turns six or seven. You can see that reflected in various religions. In Catholicism, a child makes a first reconciliation(formerly confession)at around this age. So we spend a lot of time with children teaching them about truth and lies.
I have watched the various ways this child has tried to get away with a lie. Sometimes the child says,”I was just making that up.” Or “I really thought I said something else.” More often, however, the excuse when caught in a lie is “I was just kidding.” The neighbors won’t tolerate these ways to weasel out of the reality that the child has lied. They insist that the child tell the truth. In fact, sometimes they add, “we don’t joke about those things.”
It’s a lesson that some politicians seem to have missed. I am grateful for those journalists who still insist, “we don’t joke about those things.”