I hate lying and crying. And dying. Dying doesn’t really have anything to do with the other two, except for the fact that sometimes I want to inflict it.
Here’s the thing about parenting. I would love to be one of those parents who just…doesn’t care. You want to lie to me? Go ahead, I don’t care. If it doesn’t hurt me why should I try to fix it?
Yesterday I picked Harry up from Middle School and we did our usual breakdown. How was your day, how was your lunch, did you make any friends, do you like any girls, and DO YOU HAVE ANY HOMEWORK?
“Yeah, a little, I have to practice my trumpet…” and then we talked band until pulling into the driveway. Harry gets home an hour and a half before the other kids so he has plenty of quiet time to be productive.
He was productive for about 20 minutes–10 of which were spent oiling his horn.
“So, can I watch TV?” he says coming out of his room.
“No, it’s a school night.”
“Can Jackson come over?”
“No, it’s a school night. Hey, are you done with everything, did you finish your math?”
Note that this was a double question. “Yeah, so can I have some free time?”
Free time/non-screen/non-friend time was invoked.
Then at 9:30 last night he comes into my bedroom and I catch him trying to sneak off with my laptop. “Where are you going with that? You’re not allowed to use my new laptop, you can use the regular computer. Besides, it’s bedtime–”
“I have three pages from computers to finish! I have to use it!”
What? “What?” I said. He sheepishly informed me that he still had half an hour’s work of computer homework to complete.
“Then you can get up half an hour early tomorrow and finish it,” and that’s exactly what he did.
But on our way to school I brought up the subject of his deceitfulness and told him that I don’t want him to lie about this homework, he doesn’t have to. I’ll help him–
“I didn’t lie to you!!” he yelled.
“Excuse me? What do you think that was yesterday, you led me to believe…” and then we had a four-minute fight (yeah, go me, I know) on what constitutes a lie and what weekend restriction is going to look like before he got out of the Excursion, slammed the door shut and yelled that he hated me.
See what I mean? I could have totally let the lie go. He got his homework done, lost half an hour of morning sleep as his consequence, what was the big deal? The big deal wasn’t the homework, it was his refusal to acknowledge his own darn lie.
So today after school I explained it to him. I have a responsibility–a sacred responsibility–to hold him accountable for his actions. If I don’t teach him that God sees everything then who will? More than that, I will have to stand before my Heavenly Father someday and I can tell you right now, nothing worries me more than hearing something like, “Remember that day you found those really cute boots on Zulilly and got so wrapped up in your shipping information that you totally ignored your kid while he was lying to you? That was one of the moments that could have kept him from becoming a lie head. Too bad you totally missed it and he spent 25 years in jail.”
I go after it because I care about their salvation. I care about their citizenship. I care about their own sense of self-worth because I know that nothing makes a person feel more worthless than habitual sin. I was a kid, I remember my lying phase.
I’ll never forget the night my mom sent me to bed without dinner during daylight hours because I got caught in a lie. I was probably about nine or ten, old enough to know better plus a few years. She came upstairs after I’d spent two hours staring at (peeling) my wallpaper, and she sat on the edge of the bed really quietly. It was just us and the muted glow from my little lamp, I can see it so clearly still.
She proceeded to tell me the story of a woman she knew who was in prison, and how all of that lady’s problems began with little piles of lies. Lies that she got comfortable telling when she was a kid. Little, harmless lies that led to more lies and more lies. And all those lies? They eventually caught up to her and she lost her family, her home, her job and her life.
I’ve never felt so repentant in my entire life. It nipped a very damaging habit in the bud at a critical time in my youth.
Parenting these days in my world is a different kind of hard than it was four years ago. Back then it was all potty talk and nap times and constant messes (okay that hasn’t changed) and feeling overrun. Now I mostly want them know where to turn when they’re having a problem, be it lost homework or a lying habit.
Okay, I also want them to change their underwear and rinse out their dishes already. But you get my drift.