When I became a mom, a friend of mine told me that my child would eventually lie to me. Surely she wouldn’t. I hadn’t lied to my parents (well, hardly at all), and my child would be a better person than I am. My friend was wrong. Plain wrong.
Then it happened. My adorable daughter lied to me — shortly after she could construct complex sentences.
My two year old walked into the room wearing the jeans and t-shirt that I had put on her that morning, plus what looked like half a bottle of moisturizer — in her hair, on her shirt, and all over her jeans. Just then, the cat ran past me covered with what was obviously the rest of the moisturizer from the bottle.
So as an educated woman who had read all of the best parenting books, I asked my moisturizer-slathered cherub the stupidest question possible,
“Who put moisturizer on the cat?”
“He did it himself.”
She said this while looking me straight in the eyes. It was hard not to laugh, but the skill with which she had lied (minus the circumstantial evidence all over her and the poor cat) was unnerving. I hoped that I wasn’t raising a future criminal.
By the time she was five, my daughter had become more devious, but I could still stay one step ahead of her. Anytime she had something in her possession that she shouldn’t have, she hid it under her bed — every single time. When the Easter basket was missing a chocolate bunny that we were going to “save until after dinner”, I found the foil wrapper under her bed. Although she wasn’t sophisticated enough to change her hiding spot, she seemed genuinely contrite whenever I found something under her bed that shouldn’t be there. I counted guilt as progress.
Now that she is a teenager, trying to stay one step ahead of her is at best challenging. Instead, I strive to nurture both honesty and open communication. We have had many conversations that have included my saying, “If you are ever in a situation where you need a sober ride, call me. I may not be happy, but you know I love you and I want you to be safe.”
The other day, she explained to me that an older sister of one of her friends had texted while driving. This scared me, but I was glad that my daughter felt comfortable telling me about it. Apparently she asked the girl to put her phone down and told her that if she did it again, she wouldn’t ride with her.
Will my teenager lie to me? Surely she will. I also think that she will talk to me when it is important — and for that, I am grateful.
Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that. Follow Liz at her blog at www.lizpossible.com and her FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/MySingleMomLife/