The other day Arden told me that someone close to her had confessed they had lied to her. She seemed confused about the scenario, so I had to do my best to talk it out. She asked if I had ever lied as a kid. I said I had. Her eyes widened. I explained that growing up we weren’t allowed to have treats. Cake, candy, cookies, pretty much snack food in general, was all off-limits except special occasions. Even sugar cereals were a rare occurrence. As a parent now, I get that they were trying to keep us healthy, but seeing my dad eat a bowl of Breyer’s ice cream every night, when we weren’t allowed to have any seemed unfair. Or when my step-mom baked cookies, yet my step-brother and I were told we weren’t allowed to have any, was kind of mean. So yes, we snuck into sweets. Most of the time getting caught and when I did, I totally lied.
For me, the problem was and remains that, I’m a terrible liar. I have a tell and it’s pretty obvious. I’m straight-forward, so when asked why I lied, I tried pointing out their erroneous ways of parenting. As one might imagine, it was not well received. There was a particular incident where my dad went to get ice cream out of the locked chest freezer and it was gone. He was completely dumbfounded. Listening his utter disbelief while having a discussion about it with my step-mom was practically comical. Like one of those kids movies, where the dad is a bumbling idiot and the mom totally clueless. Except soon enough, we got called before the judge and jury to confess our crimes. I hadn’t even eaten the ice cream, but totally agreed that it was a stupid move to finish it off and throw away the container.
What seemed to eat at my dad the most, was how someone got it the locked freezer. It required a special key, as the lock was oddly round. It’s wasn’t just left laying around either. This highly-prized, tiny bit o’metal was kept away from us at all times. One day though, when the parents were gone, we got creative and figured out a way. It required taking tiny sewing scissors and clamping them on the lock, then pushing in and turning in one fluid motion. It totally took practice, but I was dedicated. A few months earlier, in order to help myself to some Christmas cookies that were frozen for storage, I had gotten good.
After multiple interrogations this particular night though, I cracked. I retrieved the tiny scissors and demonstrated how the freezer could be opened. Part of me expected to be congratulated for my cleverness. For putting an end to the mind-boggling conundrum. Unfortunately, the belt didn’t see it the same way.
Being that Arden is 6, I give her the short version. Yes, I snuck cookies, I got caught, I lied and I got punished. What she almost hilariously fixates on, is the fact we weren’t allowed to have goodies. In Arden’s world, she lives for sugar. It’s permitted in moderation, but she’s a kid and often tries to negotiate more. My reasoning is that she hopefully will have a better relationship with food. To not gorge herself like it’s her last meal, like I did with a dish of M&M’s, at a rare slumber party I was allowed to attend when I was 12. I tell her that it’s hard to understand, but there is a very fine line with lying. Saying that you like someone’s cooking or gift they gave even when you don’t, is okay. That because the person is being genuine and thoughtful, it’s important to keep your opinions to yourself in order to spare their feelings. To purposely be deceitful and hurt others for one’s own ill-gotten gain, well that is not okay.
A few days pass and I’m not sure she understands my point, that is until I pick her up from school. She explains that a classmate/sort-of-friend (who has become known for taking other kid’s things) asked to borrow Arden’s play glasses, promising to bring them back the next day. Arden tells me that she thought about it and decided it was best to let the friend just play with the glasses at recess. Explaining to her that she didn’t want her to forget the glasses at home. She said “She probably wouldn’t bring them back, Mama. So I did not let her borrow them.” I tell her that I am proud of her and she asks “For making up an excuse?” To which I say “No, for not hurting another person’s feelings, while making a good choice.”