Children who lie are poorly behaved, but if you can’t tell that they’re lying… are they still good?
The answer to this question for grade-four me was a very squeaky, “Yes”. I was a well-mannered and polite kid, but boy oh boy did I lie about pretty much everything. I’d convince teachers that, “It wasn’t me talking, maybe it was one of those boys,” as I’d point powerfully to my so called class mate who stepped on one of my Tazos. I was also great at convincing mum that I’d only been playing AFL 2006 (best game of all time, no questions) for ten minutes, so I had heaps of time to keep playing before I got ‘square eyes’. However, there have been many times in my childhood where the outcome of lying was not favourable – one of those times was in the pursuit of pre-pubescent love.
I was nine years old, going on ten, feeling like I was on top of the world because I was in the classroom closest to the canteen. I was also weirdly jingoistic, which isn’t really relevant but I think it nicely reflects how stupid ten-year-old me was, a point I will stress a lot. My relatively carefree existence was thrown apart when I met the girl of my dreams who for the sake of anonymity, and fun, we’re going to call Godzilla.
I don’t remember how I first came across Godzilla, whether she came into the room of our grade four class and I was immediately smitten or if it was more of a slow-build which got me, but one thing was for certain – I was in love. Or you know, maybe it wasn’t so certain because I was a stupid nine year old who knew nothing about love, relationships or the dark void where my soul is meant to be.
What I was sure of was that I had to do something about these feelings inside of me, I had to get Godzilla to like me. I couldn’t let her move to Queensland like my grade two crush did. Nor could I let her casually move to another school, as though what we had didn’t mean anything to her, like my grade prep girlfriend did. It was only a matter of time until Godzilla, just like all the other girls in my life, left me. Unless I did something drastic and of course, predictably stupid.
So, yeah…I pretended to be a girl.
The logic behind this was that Godzilla was a girl and that girls talk to girls, they don’t talk to guys, so to get her attention I obviously had to be a girl. Looking back on it, it seems like the kind of thought process which only makes sense in episodes of Arthur and quadratic equations.
You may be wondering how I went about this. Did I perhaps start dressing like a girl or put on a girly voice? Maybe even steal from my sister’s make-up? Well no, unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough to do these things, but I did consider them. I instead went for a much more straightforward approach, bluntly and casually telling everyone in my class that I was, in fact, a girl.
One reaction I got to this was annoyance. People were annoyed that this ten-year-old boy would just straight up deny that he was… a boy. Conversely, I was annoyed that they were making such a big deal about it. My plan relied on subtlety, I needed to be accepted as a girl and all this commotion could’ve potentially made Godzilla suspicious and not want to talk to me because I was a boy.
However, I’d have to say the main reaction I got was one I liked: attention. Everyone was wondering what colours I’d choose to draw with, what animals I’d select and what kind of music I listened to.
I kept the ‘act’ up by correcting people when they called me a boy and acting in ways that I thought girls did, to an extent – I didn’t go into the girls bathrooms or stop playing football. I personally didn’t think about it deeply at all, to me I had decided to be a girl, so I became a girl, but I had no idea what that meant or if there was anything I should be doing other than simply telling people.
Did this incredibly stupid and simple plan help me to attain Godzilla’s affection? Well one day in class when I was going around just doing my thing, I overheard her talking to another kid, who asked her the most important question a ten year old can be asked: “Do you like anyone?”
This of course got my attention so I moved a bit closer to hear her answer: “Well I like Jarryd, but he thinks he’s a girl”.
At this moment I was noticed, I saw the look of dread in Godzilla’s eyes as she had began to conceptualise the gravity of the situation. They were both eagerly awaiting my reflexive reply which was just so, so stupid… “Yeah, I am a girl,” and I walked away.
I’m not sure why I did this but I have my theories. One is that I was in too deep and I had to keep the lie up because it was pretty much the only thing I knew how to do. I also think that I was disappointed Godzilla’s affection was made unobtainable by the very plan I aimed to win it with. So after walking away in confused defeat, I lazily kept the lie up for the rest of the year, and in grade five when questioned about my gender-swapping antics by my fellow students, I would deny any memory of such events.
I look back at this stage of my life with a sense of humility and humour. Whilst I am tempted to analyse my behaviour from different perspectives, I think the main lesson here is that lying gets complicated, if you’re stupid like me the consequences of the lie can complicate the very purpose of the deception.
As a disclaimer, I do realise that transphobia is a very real and very bad thing, I do not wish to imply that members of the transgender community lie about their gender – I was just a kid trying to get a girl to like me, in the way that made the most sense to me at the time…
Words by Jarryd Brand
Art by Marina Yu
IG – @shadeylines