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Lying

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"Shame!"

          Last night I discovered that my 4th grade daughter has been forging my initials on school documents for almost a month to avoid missing recess. That means that for 3 and a half weeks, I have been harboring a felon. Now, honestly, this is the behavior I expect from my 6th grade son. With all of his mind-boggling tantrums and homicidal threats lately, forgery didn’t seem like something too far off of his grid. However, I generally ruled out this type of behavior because it requires, how do I put this… intelligence… to pull this type of scheme off. And quite honestly, we haven’t had to worry about that particular amount of intelligence as of yet.

            But it seems that I have underestimated my daughter’s capabilities, as well as the lengths she will go to avoid sitting out for recess. It’s odd, but there was a certain part of me that felt almost impressed that she was able to pull something like this off for so long. I had been doing what 4th grade parents are instructed to do – start pulling back on being “helicopter mom” and allowing the kids to fail or succeed (to a certain degree) on their own. It’s their time to learn how to organize their papers, be responsible for getting signatures, and miss recess when things are not signed or completed accurately.

            That being said, I secretly watch her grades on the new school Skyward program, and since most of them were in the average range, it didn’t occur to me that I was being played… until last night, when I realized that she didn’t want me to see her planner. THEN I knew something was up. She had been hiding behind the distraction of her older brother’s rages and her toddler brother’s Terrible Three’s, and she had been doing so extremely well! My daughter actually banked on the fact that I wouldn’t check up on her because of the other chaos going on. She played me like the fiddle that I am, whispering words of how proud she is of herself for doing so well lately, and saying how she “feels just awful” that her older brother can’t seem to get on track. (Blah, blah, blah.) She blew so much smoke up my rear end that I could’ve passed for a chimney.

            Oh my gosh, I seriously just recalled half a dozen times that my daughter massaged my feet or complimented me out of the blue recently… that tricky little monster! I should’ve known something was up when she told me my unwashed hair of 3 days was “stunning”, because seriously? Stunning? You’re NINE. Say “cool” next time you’re trying to cover up your sneakiness!

            On top of all the manipulating and the forging and the deception… this child had the audacity to LIE, to my face, 5 times in a row – digging herself deeper into the trench that will now be the burial ground for her social life. Because the Fiddle has regained her rightful spot as the Fiddler, as Fiddlers tend to do. Goodbye gymnastics! Adios birthday parties and play dates! Bon voyage recess! (Because YES I emailed her teachers and informed them of her need to sit and find repentance during the 25 minutes that used to be her school play time.) At the risk of going overboard, I actually thought about cutting out an “F” in red cloth and requiring her to wear it on her clothing until I feel she has securely learned her lesson, but apparently the letter F could cause some confusion that is unnecessary for the 4th graders of our rural community.

            Therefore, if you live in the local area and see my child out in public, feel free to point your finger at her while yelling “SHAME!” I would consider this fair and equal punishment.

          (PS, before you get all judgy and condescending, my daughter came up to me after school and told me that missing recess is just fine with her because they miss it half the time anyways because the class talks too much. Yeah. She told me my consequence meant nothing.)

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Saving You, Saving Me

Today, I found a knife in my son’s room. Let me just go ahead and tell you that finding a knife in your 9-year-old’s room does something to a Mama. I mean, the range of emotions – the action plans – the list of suspected reasons – the list of assumed consequences… Folks, it was a loooong 4 hours waiting for him to step off that school bus.

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The Lies We Tell

            Can we take an honest moment and talk about the lies we tell our children? (Today’s Honest Moment is brought to you by the letters O and MaGosh.) Let’s not get critical or self-righteous, now, we’re all in this together. We’ve all told the lies….

            “Mommy, do you like my picture?”

            “Oh… yes, honey… it’s a beautiful picture of a… um… of a beautiful picture! The prettiest picture I’ve ever seen.” (Bull crap… you can’t even tell which way is up and you just lied to your child.)

            “Mommy, where do babies come from?”

            “The Baby Store.” Or “The stork.” Or “Heaven.” (But they really DO come from Heaven! Don’t kid yourself, we all see what you did there… you cheated and left out the stuff that we all shove under the rug! Lie by omission!)

            “Mommy, can I get a pony?”

            “We’ll see.” Or “Maybe when you’re older.” (Woman up, Mama! You know darn well that child of yours, yes the one who eats his boogers and pees on your flowers outside, he isn’t ever getting a pony!)

            So why do we tell the lies? 1) our children are too young for the truth, 2) we don’t want to hurt their feelings or wreck their confidence, 3) we are putting off an inevitable battle over something they want, 4) we are taken off guard by their question, 5) we are human.

            I do the lies, too. And I do them well. “Were you and Dad talking about me?” Nope, mind your own business or get better at eavesdropping. “Am I getting a new bike for my birthday??” Not a chance… do you KNOW how much a new bike costs?? (Meanwhile, new bike is hiding in the garage under a sheet until the birthday party.) We say the lies, and we say them well.

            But what if you find yourself raising children that lie? For the record, all kids lie. Period. What I’m referring to now is the habitual liars. The ones that lie about everything no matter how big, no matter how small. The ones that lie, not just to cover up a wrong-doing, but to make themselves look important, to fit in, or just to have something to say. The ones that lie so convincingly that you may not find out the truth for days, weeks, or years… the elaborate story-tellers, the “I swear to God”ers, the “I really promise this time”ers.

            These are my kids. The future car salesmen of America reside in my home. They have literally convinced me that my own eyes have deceived me at times. I have walked away confused, befuddled, and scratching my head, knowing that I watched them commit the crime but finding myself questioning what I had witnessed only moments ago. Their craftiness is uncanny. If they turn out to be poor salesmen, they’ll have a promising future in politics.

            The husband and I have tried to focus our efforts on this particularly frustrating behavior over the last few months. To do this, I’ve tried desperately to cut out any and all white lies I tell. Model the behavior, be the change, right? This is why my kids now know where babies come from (http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/the-blog/2015/05/let-me-tell-ya-bout-birds-and-bees.html)! And when they ask a question that catches me off guard, I now try to tell them I’ll have to get back to you on that or  I’ll explain that to you when you’re a little older.

           So far, so good. We’ve still had to deal with their lying, obviously. We’re not magicians! But there’s been a definite improvement with one and a moderate improvement with the other. I was contemplating this proud parenting moment in the shower this morning when all of a sudden, a HUGE problem smacked me directly in the face

            You guys, what the heck am I gonna do about Santa Claus?

            Yes, I do realize this is July. And yes, I will worry about this for the next 6 months.

          The biggest white lie we as parents tell our kids lasts for at least 4 weeks, requires props and staging elaborate scenes, and has global ramifications if word gets out! Will the Bigs tell the Littles the truth and ruin their holiday delusions as well? Will they tell their friends at school, causing angry parents to pelt me with snowballs when I pick them up at the end of the day? Will the kids be angry that we’ve lied to them for the last 3 Christmases? Will Christmas lose its special charm to them? No more pictures with Santa will be wanted… no more cookies and reindeer food will be set out… no more night before Christmas stories will be told….

            “Mommy, is Santa really real?”

            “What, the fat old man that creeps to our house late and night, shimmies his way down our closed-up chimney, comes and looks in on you while you’re sleeping, sees everything you do and knows everywhere you go, and eats your beloved cookies? Yes, honey, he’s real.”

            This is why my daughter is terrified of intruders.

            Guys, I seriously need your help. I really don’t know what to do on this one. I have one that will be in 4th grade (maybe he’s ready?) and the other that will be in 2nd grade (obviously still well within the “believing” zone), the toddler (who plays with a Santa app on my phone all year long and spontaneously sings Jingle Bells), and the baby (who is just as happy blowing bubbles with his spit as he would be learning about Santa Claus). Do we continue the sweetest lie we could tell them, or do we pull the plug on the big S.C. and threaten their lives if they tell their classmates?

            Go.

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Liar, Liar, Antlers On Fire

     What to do with a child that lies perpetually... They should really teach a class on these things! In fact, if lying were an occupation, both of my kids could drop out of school right now and make more money than professional athletes (all of them combined). I suppose I should encourage them down a path of used car salesmen... or politics. OR I could figure out how to change this nasty behavior in them without wanting to knock them into next Tuesday! But so far, I am at a total loss.
     My mother had this great idea (and even supplied the goodies!) for my husband and I to do the Twelve Days Of Christmas with the kids... meaning that we would put a small gift in a holiday bag and hang it on their bedroom door knobs for them to find in the morning. We will do this for the 12 days leading up to when we will leave for Michigan to celebrate Christmas. Today was Day 2 and it included a pair of reindeer antler headbands that I picked up to accompany my mom's gift. Cameron was awake before Taylor this morning and he was so excited to see the antlers! I could hear him pitter-pattering around in the hallway outside of the bathroom while I was getting ready. Moments later, Taylor (in full-on tear mode) walked in with broken antlers. She told me that they were in her bag that way, which I knew that they weren't. Just as I was getting ready to confront her about this, I noticed something.... they were Cameron's brown antlers instead of Taylor's white ones.
     I knew exactly what had happened. I could actually see it play out in my mind... gift bag on the door, super impulsive child, Taylor still sleeping (none the wiser), the ole' switcheroo... So I called Cameron into the bathroom.
     "Cam, the broken antlers that your sister has.... they're yours aren't they."
     "No, they're not! I swear!"
     "Honey, yes they are. I gave you the brown ones and Taylor the white ones."
     "Nah uh! Santa must have switched them!"
     "Nice try, Cam, but you know that those are from me and Dad, not from Santa.... be honest. Did you break them and then switch them with Taylor's?"
     "No! She's lying!!" (Said as defiant tears streaked his cheeks.)
     "No, Cameron, you're the one who's not telling the truth. Did you break them on accident?"
     "She broke mine, I didn't break hers!"
     "At this point, buddy, you're just hurting my feelings... it's time to be honest. Did you snap them while trying to get them out of the bag? Or did the bag shut in the door, you realized they broke, so you gave them to Taylor while she was still sleeping? Because I know both antlers were in one piece moments before you found them."
     "You're a liar! I hate you and this dumb house!" (Storms out of the bathroom.)
     Ah, just another wonderful morning in the Costa home! After giving Taylor the rightful antlers, finishing my make-up, and getting ready to head out to work, I stopped back at Cameron's room. He was hiding under his bed after having broken several of his toys. He screamed that everyone in our house hates him, and that he wants to go to another foster home where they don't lie.
     "Cameron, you can wish that all you want... but the fact is you're here. And in this house, we tell the truth.... always. You can act mad at me, but you're really mad at yourself. You're upset that you broke your new toy, and you're upset that you got caught cheating your sister out of hers.... but I think you're even more upset that you have something inside of your heart that keeps making you lie." Tears...but less defiant ones. "Buddy, you need to spend some time up here thinking about what's going on inside of you. Pray and ask Jesus to help you stop lying, because until you do, you're going to be a very unhappy little boy and you're always going to feel disappointed with yourself. I love you, even when you're being a snot-face." Slight grin, but then remembered he was mad at me.
     "I'm not going to buy you anything at Santa's Workshop today," he said quietly.
     "Cam, it's my money you're using to buy the gifts anyways. But if that's how you want to be, then you have more to pray about than I realized. I'd start right away if I were you." And then I left for work.
     I came home to Cameron holding three presents out to me in a shiny bag... all of which he accidentally spilled the beans about within the first hour of me being home. (So maybe he shouldn't be a politician afterall...) I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this kid (and the other one) are going to lie to me again (probably by the time I'm done writing this post), but I'm hoping and praying that SOMETHING is sinking in? Anything! A small, tiny nugget of conscience is perhaps taking root? Only time will tell. But until then, suggestions on this lying issue are totally welcome!

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