Coming in from a few errands, I walk by my summer-reading crew and head out the back door to give Wembley an outdoor break.
“Where’s Jack?” I ask the “readers” (they had long since zipped the reading for goofing around fun).
Within moments, I realize that I don’t have to search for the kid. As I looked out our window onto the backyard, I see a good bit of the bottom of our pool covered with rocks. Rocks that our Dad forbids being thrown into the tempting wet surface. Next I see a little culprit scurrying around from the side of the garage.
“Jack?” I question. “Jack… Did you throw rocks in the pool.”
Very matter-of-factly he informs me that Slow Walker did it. Considering the fact that Slow Walker has been playing at his friend’s house all day, that’s highly unlikely.
I get down on my knees and meet him at eye level. “Jack … Tell me the truth…. Did you throw those rocks in the pool?”
In his very next breath, he quickly chirps, “I sorry, Mommy. I sorry.”
He was just so darn cute with that little high voiced apology. I knew he needed some sort of memorable consequence not only for going against a very clear, known and understood no-rock-in-the-pool policy but also for a rather obvious lie. But he was just so cute. And he’s so sweet. I shrugged it off.
Later that evening I was recounting the cuteness when Jon came in from work. Not thinking it so cute, he went outside to interrogate the little offender. Even as I was recounting the story, I was convicted about my missed obligation to follow up his offenses with a consequence. I definitely had blown it.
After about 20 minutes (seriously 20 minutes), Jon came back in the house and asked me to help him outside. Apparently the kid has chosen to yet again lie, throwing his brother under the bus even to the point of wanting the brother to get spanked for the infraction. “Yes. Spank him, Daddy.” were his words when pressed on what punishment the rock throwing offender deserved.
Completely baffled at this uncharacteristic behavior, Jon came for my help (since he spilled the beans with me earlier) to get to the bottom of it.
Again, on my knees, eye to eye with the little guy, I ask, “Jack. Who threw the rocks in the pool.”
“We know that’s not true, Jack. He wasn’t here. Who threw the rocks in the pool?”
“I don’t know, who?”
“Jack. You did. Tell us the truth. Did YOU throw the rocks in the pool?”
The kid stuck to his guns blaming anyone but him. He actually went so far as to tell me that the rocks talked to him. After saying they wanted to be in the pool, they threw themselves in. Unbelievable!
Eventually, he broke. He admitted to his father that he did in fact toss the rocks then took the punishment that should have been distributed upon my conversation when he confessed.
Jon and I were floored at the time he spent and lengths he went to shift blame. We spent over thirty minutes getting to the bottom of his infraction that had long since taken a major backseat to his blooming lie.
So every kid lies… what’s the big deal? Well, as i considered the scene, what struck me the hardest was the fact that upon being given a lengthy leash (when I failed to nip his actions in the bud with a more than warranted consequence) … irrational, self-serving liberties are taken. What began as a little kid breaking the rules and telling a fib was taking on a sociology lesson.
When given a free “you’re so cute”, “it’s no big deal” leash, he took every bit of it and then some. He apparently decided that his rock antics were just fine, as was his brilliant effort to cover it up with a lie. The little one was fun, so why not make it bigger and grander. Enjoy every minute of his creativity with the truth – even to the point of ridiculous. Why not? The law was now on his side. The one kids today love to lock onto. I’m not getting in trouble, so why stop?
- What difference does it make that I’m only 12?! No one stopped me from going in that R-rated movie last time. I can see any one I want.
- The teacher knows we look at each other’s papers. Of course it’s fine to cheat.
- Everyone knows we’re slipping vodka into our Slurpees. No one says anything, so of course it’s not a big deal.
- The police know we have beer at these high-school parties. No one is ever arrested. So, what if it’s illegal?
- Her parents said it was fine for us to invite boys to the lake house for a sleepover after party. What difference does it make if we spend the night in the same room? Who cares if we’re in the same bed?!
All real examples from real kids and real parents. We know it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve heard parents say things like, “I want them to learn how to handle their liquor while they’re living in my house.” Is that the right message considering the fact it’s illegal. Does it convey that they and what we want are more important than the law? That they are above the rules? Above the law?
When I gave my little liar a pass, he obviously took it as a free-ride card. Are teens getting the same message from our apparent social and moral passes?
Not to over-dramatize, I just found it a bit eye-opening, interesting and, as usual, worth considering.
Thanks for walking the road with me.