If I told you this story last week, I might not have seen the humor. My boy, my very passive, honest, kind boy, is learning his way. He’s figuring out how to, um, lie.
Now, to be fair, the things he’s lying about aren’t that big of a deal. They aren’t a matter of life or death, for him or anyone else. They aren’t illegal. Lying simply is something I don’t handle well. At all.
In case you haven’t been able to tell, I’m an open book. I don’t come out and share everything, but, if asked, I’ll probably answer. I’m a terrible actor, so even if I tried to lie, you’d probably know it. My dad only spanked me twice in my life. Both times were because I didn’t tell the truth. I was also a quick learner.
Once, I colored on the wall. Dad asked if I did, and of course I said, “No, Daddy.” Seeing as I was the only child in the house old enough to get around on her own, Dad knew I did it. I knew I did it. He walked me in to the living room (read: the forbidden room with white couches) and showed me what I “didn’t do.” I still denied it. I got a spanking. I cried. My dad wanted to cry.
When The Boy got off the bus last week, I asked him to do his homework right away.
(If he doesn’t do it immediately, it takes three times as long and the whole family wants to leave home.)
He went outside to work on it, as he often does. A bit later, I noticed a black caped figure darting around the yard, Harry Potter style. I smiled, knowing my good boy finished his work and was enjoying the beautiful weather. The Girl ran out to join him.
I called them to wash up for dinner, and The Boy sat down to finish his homework. What? Yeah, I asked him the same question. He gave me some speech about how The Girl messed him up and blah, blah, blah. I asked if that was true and gave him a chance to come clean. He didn’t.
Because of how I feel about lying in general, it was all I could do to stay calm(ish). I sent him to his room, telling him to stay there until I had dinner on the table. When I went to check on him, I said, “Please clean your room. No playing with electronics.” Okay, maybe it was more like WHILE YOU’RE IN HERE YOU MIGHT AS WELL DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE. PICK UP YOUR STUFF. DON’T LET ME CATCH YOU ON THAT KINDLE, OR YOU WON’T GET IT BACK UNTIL YOU GO TO COLLEGE.
Dinner passed. Kids went to bed. I relaxed on the couch. Around 9:30 that night, and because the morning had been rough, too, I experienced a touch of Mom Guilt. I’m not often affected by MG, but I felt like I should go in and promise a better day tomorrow. I wasn’t planning on apologizing. I am his parent — not his friend. I just wanted to tell him we were okay.
I couldn’t see him in his bed. Where in the hell was he? “Boy?” I said his name. Silence. It was pitch black in his room, so I made my way over to the bed and, as my eyes adjusted, I saw the cord coming out from under the quilt. The charger cord for a Kindle. Deep breath. Cuss in head only.
“What are you doing?” I wasn’t nice.
“Nothing?” He replied in a wimpy, almost questioning tone. It was as if he was saying, “Honestly, I don’t have the faintest idea what I’m doing. My hands overtook my brain, and I’d swear I’m not doing a thing.”
Let’s put it this way. He was in trouble. I told him (maybe my voice was raised a tad) there are decisions to be made every day, and each yields either rewards or consequences. It’s a simple, but important, life lesson. I told him it wasn’t very smart to sneak around or lie when you were already in trouble for sneaking around and lying. Actually, it was stupid. I kept that part to myself.
The MG persisted, but I know I did the right thing. Our kids don’t run our house. The adults do. At nearly eight and 10, they still need us. Sure, they can make a peanut butter sandwich. They pee in the toilet several times per day and get themselves dressed every morning. They know to be nice to others, and they know not to lie. You know what? They screw up. I do, too.
I’ll tell them when they do, just as my parents did. They’ll be sentenced every single time. I may feel a little MG, but I can handle it. Our kids aren’t that bad. Yet. I need to stop them while I can. I’ve already told them there’re surveillance cameras placed throughout the house, and even if there weren’t, I know what they’re doing at all times. Until they ask to see the footage, I’m good. As long as the wine doesn’t run dry.