Just last week, my middle daughter came home from kindergarten with a frown plastered across her face.
"What's wrong?" I asked her as I kneeled to her level.
"I had a bad day because I told my teacher that you got very angry and hit me in the eye with a glove."
Cue the knot in my throat and blood pressure rising.
She was referring to what I thought had been an insignificant incident earlier in the day. The tag inside her snow gloves kept bothering her a little too much. After several attempts at putting them on her, and trying to keep her from taking them off, I gave up. With a deep sigh, I casually tossed them her way and grinded my teeth as I muttered, "Now you put them on!"
One of the snow gloves happened to brush her eye.
My mind started spiralling. I had been misrepresented. She told her teachers that I hit her. The same teachers that I have known and respected for years were now probably wondering if violence via tiny winter gloves was my favourite method of delivering discipline to my children. My four-year-old daughter had embellished a mundane mother-daughter rift to the point where I felt embarrassed — even betrayed.
Our children lie to us, to their friends and to their educators all the time.
This feeling was nothing new for me, though. Lies and partial-lies have always been part of the experience of raising children. How many times have you wondered if they really used the bathroom before jumping into the pool? Did they truly wash their hands after using the toilet? And who took the iPad from whom? I bet you often receive puzzling and conflicting information.
Our children lie to us, to their friends and to their educators all the time. Like the saying goes, though, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. As adults, we use lies to protect other people's feelings, to get ourselves out of trouble and to gain advantage in life — we even lie to ourselves. Throughout it all, our children watch us from the sidelines as they keenly register our deceitful gestures and intonation. Before we know it, they learn how to manipulate and twist the truth to serve their own purposes.
As a mom, I don't really mind having to parse through a fair bit of lying. Science after all, has given me some hope, as several studies and experts have found that early liars turn into smart adults. But as with everything when it comes to parenting, there is a line between what I will tolerate (or even celebrate internally) and what will really worry me.
A big lie would completely throw me off.
The reason why a small lie or embellished story won't faze me is because, like most parents I know, I've developed a keen ability to detect BS. Even if my children's story holds up for a while, I'm able to read their cues and dismantle their stories piece by piece — until they, themselves reveal the truth and a coy smile.
A big lie would completely throw me off. I would never want to find myself in that scenario because it would teach me a heart-breaking fact about my relationship with my kids.
It would make me feel like I have lost a big chunk of the trust of the people most dear to me.
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As a mom, that is my single biggest fear.
I took a deep breath as my daughter stared down at her wet snow boots.
"Mami, I told my teachers I was very upset because I wanted them to cuddle me because I was tired," she said. "You know I love you."
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