March 16, 2008

truths and lies

Telling the truth and lying has been a big topic of conversation in the Little Irish house with our six and half year old. Wonder Boy is now of the age where he realizes telling the truth about doing something that isn't nice or wrong will ultimately get him in trouble. He's taken to immediately blaming his little sister which pushes our family into a tailspin of crying and yelling and mass confusion. The noise level instantly goes up fifty notches with just three simple words: "She did it!" As a parent this saddens me a tad because all I want to do is to trust and protect my children.

"It's just the age" I'm often reassured. I know this is true. There is that time in your life when you realize you can do what you want, lie about it to avoid punishment and if you are manipulative enough, you are successful. Some children grow into adult and still posses this trait. They get so good at lying and manipulating in which it just becomes a daily habit. I know one or two very well. They just don't mind the consequences that eventually finds them; or by the time the consequences finds them, it's been so long that the punishment is never hard enough therefore doesn't affect their life enough for them to stop lying.

Yesterday, Wonder Boy had two little moments in his life where something happened and we were unsure of "who did it". When I asked Wonder Boy about it, he denied it. After somewhat grilling him over it, he fessed up to the first "no-no" which in hindsight was not a big deal. He wasn't respectful to something of mine basically. It was the lying about it that upset me most.

"Why not just tell me what happened?" I asked. "Because I knew you would get mad about it." he said. "But don't you understand that lying about something gets you in far worse trouble then what actually happened?" I answer. Through tears . . . "yes" he replies.

The second situation is still leaving me in uncertainty. I heard something being said, something not all that nice, at a birthday party. When I asked Wonder Boy if he said it, of course he denied and blamed it on the boy sitting next to him. I don't really have a way to investigate. I could ask around and see if anyone else heard who said it, but do I really want to admit to friends that my child said something inappropriate and hurtful????? Which is what I would be doing. I explained to Wonder Boy calling people names or commenting on their body types is just not okay. I reminded him that his feelings would be really hurt if he heard someone say such things about him. All of which he seems to understand fully. He is a sensitive lad . . . . . most of the time.

With all this swirling through my head and us sitting at the dinner table last night, Wonder Boy picks up a McDonald's toy with a real-life picture of a woman dressed like Ariel, The Little Mermaid. "Are there real mermaids?" he asks. Scanning the room and seeing his four year old sister looking up at me with all the mystery and magic a little girl could possibly muster up in her little girl head. Staring up at me with her big brown eyes as if to ask "Well mom, are there?" The words "Yes, of course" pop out of my mouth before I could stop myself. Moving my eyes slowly back to Wonder Boy and feeling a sudden lurch in the pit of my stomach. I just lied, in a way, I think.

As parents, we often 'fib' to our children: Santa Claus, flying reindeer, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, fairies, elves, mermaids. As we take a bite out of those cookies and make Easter baskets in secret to be left out for morning, we know there won't be a man dressed in red squeezing down our chimneys and there won't be a rabbit hopped up on growth hormones with a vest and bow tie dropping off baskets for the kids on Sunday morning. We are creating magical moments in our children's' life. Fantasy. Mystery. Enjoyment. And I whole heartily want to create these fantastic memories for my children to be passed onto theirs. What I struggle with is the consumerism of these holidays. Another toy, another basket, another thing to buy just to be buying. After all, these are the fundamentals of making money at Disneyland let us not forget. Created magic to be bought into. But I'm not bashing Disneyland because I Love it there. I buy into it one hundred percent. I'm the one skipping down the street to the music and pointing hysterically to Alice and the Mad Hatter.

However, can we really teach kids to not lie when we are ourselves are asking them to buy into the "not truths" all the time? Can we teach our kids to always tell the truth when we tell them Santa Claus won't bring them toys if they aren't good? After a few minutes lost in my thoughts, struggling with what is real and the truth with what is downright lying and fibbing for the sake of childhood memories is where I sit. At my dining room table. Staring at my inquisitive son eating his dinner seemingly pondering the world around him. "Actually Wonder Boy. This picture is a real woman dressed up like Ariel for the Disney on Ice show based on the Disney cartoon, The Little Mermaid. She, herself, is not a real mermaid." I say. "Oh! Can I have more rice?" he says.

Go figure!

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