Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To tell the truth

Honesty is a trait I value highly. I come from a long line of extraordinarily truthful people, including my grandma who could not bring herself to tell one teeny tiny white lie to my parents when we tried to surprise them on their 25th anniversary.

Even if I wasn't genetically programmed to be absolutely awful at lying, living with my conscience is like being followed around by a relentless Jiminy Cricket. If I allow myself to think back on the times in my life that I’ve been dishonest or deceitful, I still feel horribly guilty about all of them. Sometimes I find myself composing letters of apology in my head. (Dear car dealership, sorry for “test driving” that Saturn Vue when I needed to move the mini-fridge...)

My point is this: As a generally honest person, it has surprised me to discover just how easily and frequently I lie--or at least, avoid telling the truth--to my children. Perhaps it is simply a result of the sheer number of questions I must answer each day, the situations I need to navigate, and the brief moment of time available to ponder each response. But whatever the reason, the truth is (really!) that I am not being fully honest with my kids.

These lies/avoidance-of-truth-telling usually fall into one of three categories:

1.) Just kidding

“Look mom! This museum has a gift shop! Can we go see what they have?”
“Sorry, but children are not allowed in there.”

“But how did you know we were jumping on the bed?”
“I have magical powers.”

2.) Responding with a question

“Where’s that rabbit the dogs caught?”
“Well, you don’t see him in the yard anymore, do you?”

“How fast are you driving, Mom?”
“What does the speed limit sign say?”

3.) Feigning uncertainty

“Why are those two butterflies stuck together like that?”
“I don’t know.”

“What do you think happened to the people in that car wreck?”
“I have no idea.”

“What happened to that toy I got in my Happy Meal? You know, the one that lights up and makes a siren sound?”
“Hmmm...I’m not sure. I haven’t seen it around for a while.”

Of course, if I don't change my ways (and let's face it, even if I do change my ways) all of this will come back to bite me in a few short years. As teenagers, they’ll be using the same tactics on me:

“Was anyone drinking at the party last night?”
“Of course not, no one ever drinks at high school parties. It’s against the law.”

“What’s that on your ankle?”
“What does it look like?”

“Do you have any homework?”
“Hmmm...I’m not sure.”

1 comment:

Angela said...