When I was a kid, I told my parents once that while I was walking through the woods, I came across a mother rabbit and her nest of babies. The mother must have liked me, I told my Mom, because she sat perfectly still while I got close enough to pet each of her little fuzzy bunny babies. And then she let me pet her too. I don’t remember how my mother reacted. I’m sure she didn’t believe my story. But I do remember how guilty I felt. For years and years, I felt bad for having lied to my parents. I realize now that telling tall tales is a part of childhood. Obviously my parents did a great job teaching me the importance of honesty. Sure I still lied, but I also felt miserable for it.
And now I found myself faced with the same responsibility to teach my own children the importance of being honest.
Jordan? He’s a terrible liar. His face gets red, a sheepish grin inches over his face, and he starts nodding his head excessively. As soon as you call him on it, which isn’t hard to do when he gives so many obvious clues, he caves. “Okay, you’re right. I did it!”
Lucy, on the other hand has no problem telling a lie. The only trouble is that she doesn’t ever temper the outrageousness of her claims. She’s just as easily caught as her older brother. “Mommy, I hid the money in a special compartment in the downstairs closet, and only girls can get to it. Little girls, not big girls like you. So really, it has to be my money forever.” (fuzzy baby bunnies, anyone?)
And then there’s Sam. He’s the one I worry about. He’s good. Almost too good. But me? I’ve got Jesus on my side.
“Sam? Did you brush your teeth?”
“Yep, I sure did.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, Mommy. I got my toothbrush wet, and brush, brush, brushed, and then rinsed it off. I even tried really hard not to get toothpaste on my shirt. Then I wiped my face on the blue towel hanging on the back of the door.”
“Can I go and check your toothbrush to see if it’s wet?” (Because I know how much you hate brushing your teeth and odds are really against you having done it already.)
“Mommy!? I can’t believe you. Don’t you trust me?!”
Yeah. Seems like he’s got me now, right? I mean, what kid makes up such specific details? Well if that’s the way he wants to play…
“Sam, turn around and tell that picture of Jesus that you brushed your teeth. THEN I’ll trust you.”
He stomped into the living room and stared hard at the picture of Jesus hanging over the fireplace. Arms folded across his chest, it only took a moment or two before Sam grumbled and stormed off to brush his teeth. This time, for real.
I’m strangely comforted that even though Sam doesn’t hesitate to lie to me, he has yet to lie to Jesus.