I have recently entered a new phase in parenting and am dealing with lying. My 3 year old believes he has discovered the secret to getting away with murder (or, at least, the creation of large, obnoxious messes and causing physical or emotional distress to his sister or cousins). The secret recipe is the same that many who went before him have attempted. It is to do all of the naughty things while mom or dad’s backs are turned and, when questioned; admit nothing, deny everything and provide counter accusations.
There are quite a few tricky things about this particular transgression. The first being that we are also dealing with a lot of tattling at play dates and the tattlers don’t always have the full story or proper motives. Secondly, I want my son to experience the weight of consequences and understand that trust has been lost but to also know we don’t automatically believe everyone else over him. I want him to be able to talk to us and remain confident that mommy and daddy will hear him out and be there for him.
So when the inevitable scream or tattle comes it is time for me to switch to my C.S.I mommy hat and try to piece together the best method of discipline. Sometimes it is easy…the classic case of a chocolate chip smile and a cookie crumb trail behind a little boy with big blinking eyes asking “what cookie?” Those scenarios I can swoop in and deliver consequences, pray over his heart and mine and do my best to impress just how much lying did not help the situation. It is a lot trickier, however, when I haven’t seen what transpired and there is no concrete evidence. I have only here say and some background noises to go off of and they have lead me wrong before.
I’ve been praying over this issue like crazy, searching for some clarity and God lead me to Genesis Chapter 3. The fall of man. Adam and Eve disobey God and when asked about it the blame shifting game starts up; “that woman you created offered it to me” and “the serpent deceived me”. They weren’t technically lying but it was trying to diminish their own sin. It was shifting the blame to someone else to cover their own hides. I prayed a lot about it and read the chapter with my son in his Children’s Bible. We talked about why disobeying God was wrong, what the consequences were and did it help them to try to hide it? Was that the right choice? Then we prayed together and I made a point to ask that I would do a better job of modeling owning up to my own mistakes. Now I didn’t really feel that I needed a new opportunity to own up to my mistakes; I make them daily and I know that temptation to blame shift all too well. Such as the way it is easier to notice the bad habits my kids pick up from other people than the ones they get from me or blaming the dryer for shrinking my clothes rather than the large volume of chocolate I ate the night before. A new opportunity, however, was right around the corner.
Just a couple days later I hit a truck backing out of my sister’s driveway. It was a truck in the duplex next door and the hit really shouldn’t have happened. It was the perfect storm of crying kids, icy conditions and my own distraction level and I made a poor calculation and hit the front bumper of their truck, no real excuse. It damaged bumpers on both vehicles and for a split second the temptation to just drive away crossed my mind. I didn’t even truly entertain it, it was simply a realization that I could, that I was the only one who knew what had happened.
I quickly rejected that line of thinking and, since all the lights in the house were out, I opted to leave a note so they could call for insurance purposes. I then had to call my husband and inform him of my error and told my sister in case, for any reason, the note wasn’t received and they asked if she knew what happened. I was on the phone with our insurance company and the owner of the other vehicle and my son got to hear me time and time again accept responsibility and apologize for my error. He was quite enthralled by the whole thing. Whether it was the joy of hearing that mom messed up over and over or the excitement of the hit itself I’m not sure, but it was a good opportunity for modeling. It was also good for me to realize how much it is in human nature to try to look for a way out. I had that temptation myself in the whole incident but, having more life experience than my 3 year old, it was easier for me to take that thought captive, reject it and move forward in the proper direction. It is easier to recognize that adding one wrong to another doesn’t fix anything and leaving someone else with a mess to clean up is not the right choice.
He has been better since the whole incident and our prayer together, it has been 3 days since our last workplace incident. I’m not claiming to have fixed it permanently or give much parenting advice. Let’s face it, this phase of my life, that is the blind leading the blind. I’m learning better questions to ask though and looking for opportunities to broach the subject in stories we read together and praying constantly for wisdom. Friends, this parenting gig is no joke…neither are car accidents for that matter.