In the recent past, my dear daughter has been saying sort-of lies. Mostly along the lines of "Matty did it!" when I know she didn't see him do any such thing. "Did you see him?" I'll ask her. And she'll admit that she did not. And I'll tell her that's lying, even though she might be right, Matthias MAY have done it, but since she didn't see him, it's a lie. We've had some discussions about lying as a result, and I believe she understands what a lie is.
This weekend, the kids were at their dad's. On the way home, Anna said, "my daddy said Kadin doesn't like him anymore." This statement requires a ton of background -- Kadin is Anna's half brother who lives with his mom Kim (who is my favorite friend!) and Anna's dad hasn't been picking up Kadin for his weekends lately. I'm not sure of the details as to why not, but I think it's because Randy hates Kim so much. But, really, I don't know. Anyway, Anna's statement surprised me a little. I'd just spent all Saturday with Kim and Kadin and Kadin never once said he doesn't like his dad. He did tell me that his dad didn't pick him up, though, almost like he wished he had. So, I responded to Anna, "That's not true, Kadin likes Daddy. He misses Daddy."
To which my somber child responded, emotionless, "My daddy lied to me."
Huh. What do you say to that? Maybe it wasn't so much a lie as a misinterpretation on his part. I don't know. But I didn't say anything. I couldn't. If she's right, I couldn't say, "No he didn't," and make me the liar. But I also couldn't say "Yes, I'm sorry, he did." I want her to believe in her daddy. She's five. She needs to believe her dad is the best there is and that he would never do anything to hurt her.
I just can't believe she came to that conclusion like that! "My daddy lied to me." She's so smart, so observant. It's heartbreaking, her conclusion. Where's the benefit of the doubt?! She's not like me in that way, I guess. I give the benefit of the doubt even beyond doubtability.
Anyway. Let's talk about Anna's lie.
Yesterday I was putting Matthias down for a nap. I told Anna she could have some cookies and gave her a little bucket full of little cookies. When I came out of the room, most the cookies were gone already. She said "I ate them all." Okay.
Not five minutes later, as I'm cleanin the kitchen, I find about 5 cookies in the trash. I called Anna in and told her what I saw in the trash. "Didn't you tell me you ate them?" I asked her. She started crying immediately and said she was sorry, she was sorry. "What are you sorry for?" I asked her. I needed her to understand it was not the cookies in the trash that upset me, but the lie. We soon got there and she said she was sorry for lying.
Lies are a big, big deal to me. I know all kids lie at some point. But I'll not go through parenthood letting my kids think that the occasional lie is okay. Not even if it's about something so inconsequential like cookies in the trash. I didn't know what to do. Finally I decided I wanted some chocolate chip cookies, so I bought some. I told Anna since she lied about cookies, she doesn't get anymore today. She whined and apologized some more and said she won't lie again. And Matthias and I had some cookies while she didn't. I don't know if that was right though because I worry that I emphasized the cookie part and not the lie part with that punishment.
Well today, I gave her a cookie and asked her why she wasn't allowed to have one yesterday. She gave the right answer, and we talked about lying some more, and I asked her which was worse - throwing the cookies away or lying about it, and she said lying about it. I hope she understands that.
I looked at her while she was crying about it yesterday and told her I was very upset about the lie, and even though her lie disappointed me, I always love her, no matter what, and that made her cry some more. She's so sweet. :)
I wonder if it's coincidence that she lied about something the day after she realized "my daddy lied to me." Was it the power of her perception of his example which inspired her? Or was it totally unrelated?
Either way, as parents, we need to be very, very careful.