If there was one rule growing up, it was no lying. My dad insisted, no matter what or no matter how difficult it was, we should tell the truth. He always said he may not be happy with what we were saying, but it was better not to lie. In fact, he hated it when we lied.
And he always knew anyway, so trying to lie was useless.
How did he know? I’m not sure if in a different time and place, we just had a fear of our parents, or if we just didn’t question their direction, but if he said not to lie, I didn’t lie. And sometimes that meant I got in trouble, but it seemed to be not as bad as expected, if I told the truth.
When I was expecting the Little Bird, I had all these ideas and images of the parent I was going to be. And not to say it all went out the window when I had her, but as most parents will tell you, kids don’t come with a manual. Which basically means, no matter what I thought, she had different ideas for us. She was going to challenge us in ways we never thought we’d be challenged.
And she’s only 5!
So early on, I was watching a local parenting program and they were talking about lying. The Little Bird wasn’t even talking yet, but I heard a suggestion from one of the hosts on how to tackle kids lying; tell them that a mark appears on their forehead to discourage the lying in the first place.
I can honestly say that I thought it was a ridiculous idea. No kid is going to believe that. I mean, just check the mirror, right?! They will quickly discover that no mark that shows up on your forehead when you lie. Well, the key to that one is that only mommy’s and daddy’s can see it.
It was around the time that she was three, when I tried it out for the first time. I was home on maternity leave with the Little Mouse and went into the bathroom one day to find the toilet paper had been unrolled and piled on the floor.
I didn’t do it! The Little Mouse didn’t do it.Hmmm…that only left one person!
So I called the Little Bird to the bathroom and asked her. She said she didn’t do it. Straight-faced and straight-forward. When I told her that I can tell if she’s lying, she looked me right in the eye, as if to call my bluff. Eventually she knew I knew, so after a few moments, she fessed up, and we cleaned it up together.
Ever since, she’s done various things like cover her forehead with her hand while saying she isn’t lying, or she’ll look down or run away, but it doesn’t take long to follow up with the truth.
Just last week she asked me how long the mark would be there on her forehead, and I told her that it would only be there when she lied. “So don’t lie, and it won’t show up. Simple, right?!”
While she doesn’t like the idea that something could be on her forehead, she gets the point; no matter how hard it is, it’s always better to tell the truth.
I just wonder when I have to stop lying…and if there’s a mark on my forehead that only my dad can see!