Lesson of the Day: Lying Just May Be a Bad Idea

Today’s lesson: Lying just may be a bad idea or if you’re going to lie don’t be obvious.

Our oldest (soon to be 10) has developed a little habit of lying. Last year, he told me that he had eaten almost all of his lunch in about 15 minutes – the same child who (at the time) took over an hour to eat a meal. He had given his sandwich to another child (and after he had been caught lying had tried telling me that he was going to get it back…except it turns out that he’d been giving his sandwiches away for over a week). He also, at one point had told me that peanut butter was no longer allowed in his school instead of telling me he didn’t want peanut butter sandwiches anymore (hence the reason he was giving them away). What he didn’t realize is that the school would have to send a note home with the kids to make a change like that. I had checked with the school in September since at the time, all he wanted was PB&J.

Now, thanks to a couple instances where he had lied about pushing his little brother, we’ve run into a little problem. The middle boy (months away from 4 years old) has taken to calling wolf by accusing his brother of hitting him, kicking him, or pushing him. Alas, if we didn’t witness it, we can never be too sure who to believe: the child who would deny it whether he did it or not or the child who would just as soon blame his brother as his own clumsiness. I do not at all encourage lying, but this is an excellent example of when to lie. When it comes down to he-said-she-said (or in our house he-said-he-said) you can’t prove anything either way and either everyone gets punished or everyone’s off the hook  (unless it’s a criminal case…then it’s different…don’t break the law).

This weekend, though, the oldest managed to give us a couple examples of when and how not to lie in the same day. The boys generally get up before me because, thanks to the baby, I don’t really get much sleep until the world starts to wake up (I swear I get my  best sleep between 8AM & 10AM). As a result, I require them to have a small breakfast as soon as they get up to tide them over until one of us is up and ready to make a big breakfast (bacon & eggs, pancakes, french toast…). Saturday was a miss, but Sunday, at least one of them actually ate something. I ask every morning on the weekend so I know how long quickly I have to get food on the table.

In response to my query as to what he ate, I was told, “Toast…a banana and toast.” The kitchen didn’t look any different from when I went to bed, so I asked him what he did with his plate. After a lot of pausing and false starts, he told me that he put the plate in the dishwasher…the same dishwasher that I had run Saturday night and not emptied. Oops. So I checked the dishwasher for the dirty plate (and noticed that there was indeed a banana missing). There was no dirty plate. The dishwasher had exactly the same dishes in it as when I ran it and there were no used knives or plates anywhere in the kitchen, dining room, or living room. Then it hit me…the toast is a lie. So I confronted him, presented him with the evidence and reminded him that a piece of fruit was an acceptable small breakfast for the weekend and he hadn’t needed the toast anyway and he admitted the lie. At which point, I informed him that it would be in his father’s hands after breakfast.

The second case came within an hour of the first. Sunday was Ian’s day to deal with the kids in the morning, so when the middle one came to me for assistance with getting his controller started to join his older brother’s game, I sent him to his father (horrible, yes, but I was half asleep and Ian had agreed to be the go-to parent for the morning). When I got up and saw them both frantically mashing buttons, I thought nothing of it. I figured that he had gotten his father (which he didn’t do) or that his brother had helped him. We had added a second controller the previous day so both of the boys and I knew it could be done, and the older one knew how. He also knew that in a single player game, you could switch the character you were using – which you had to do to get through all of the levels. In the two player game, you each control one of the characters and have to cooperate to get through the levels.

At one point, around the time their father came upstairs, they asked for help with something. I took the middle boy’s controller and tried to do something with it. It was at that point that I noticed that it wasn’t connected to the game. No one had helped him connect it after all! I immediately felt horrible, but it turned out that he hadn’t known the difference. His brother had though, and hadn’t done a thing about it. It made the game easier for him if his little brother wasn’t ‘helping’ and since the second character is controlled by the game in single player mode. Sadly, he hasn’t learned the concept of plausible deniability and therefore tried denying knowing that his brother wasn’t actually playing. There is no way his father would believe that he didn’t know that it wasn’t a two player game (he even admitted to switching characters which can’t be done in a two player game).

I went back to frying bacon (mmm…bacon) and left Ian to deal with the boys…which he did…after breakfast.

Now that he’s proven that he can and will lie rather easily, I find it difficult to trust him when it matters. I know that this will pass, it may not be a phase that he’ll grow out of but we will break him of lying. At least, if he ever wants to be allowed to stay home alone, he’s going to have to build that trust back up. At the same time, though, I have to laugh at how obvious his lies were and how he’s lying over small things that he wouldn’t get in trouble for. I mean, if I were going to lie about something, I’d at least make sure that it was worth it if I got caught.

So what glaringly obvious lies have your children told?

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Filed under Lesson of the Day, Stepping Up

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