Yesterday I had taken my kids to swim at a friend’s house. When we returned home, I asked no one in particular to go to the car and grab the swim bag so I could throw all the wet bathing suits and towels in the laundry before we headed out to t-ball practice. Both kids ran out to the car, and almost immediately I heard a lot of ear-piercing crying. Ohhhh the happy sounds of childhood. Ladybug runs into the house shrieking that little one had bit her. As you can imagine, Little One is not far behind screaming at the top of his lungs that he didn’t. And of course, I had to go pick the wet clothes up off of the garage floor myself (guess I learned my lesson).
Using that voice that I am definitely not proud of, I sent both kids to their rooms to settle down and to come back when they agreed on one series of events. Little One is definitely no angel, but he is categorically not a biter either. Plus his exclamation of innocence was so strong, I was leaning towards the ‘bite didn’t really happen’ notion. On the other hand, if he didn’t do it, that meant that Ladybug had looked me right in the eye and lied.
It became very quiet upstairs, but seemingly no joint resolution was going to be offered. I crept into Little One’s room and asked him point blank if he bit. He was adamant that he did not. He said he wanted to and growled (editor’s note: What’s with all the growling among kids these day? I think we have your next blog topic!), but conclusively did not bite.
I walked into Ladybug’s room, and in the tone of voice I wish I had used earlier, I asked her again. “Are you sure Little One bit you?” Again, right in the eyes with a straight face “Yes”. I almost fell off her bed. Man is she good. Not a flinch or a glance over my head. If she is this good at lying now, we are in BIG trouble in about 10 years.
After a minute (mostly filled with my own quiet disbelief) I said “Ladybug I want you to help me come up with the punishment. Biting is totally unacceptable and I need your help”. She took a deep breath and suggested that we take away her brother’s Nintendo DS for a whole week. In our house, that is a very serious punishment. Little One’s DS is about the only thing he cares if we took away, and honestly if it were gone for a whole week I would be the one to suffer the consequences. So not only is she lying, to further continue on her lie she is willing to administer the equivalent of the death penalty in Little One’s world. What is going on here!?
I told Ladybug to get ready to leave for t-ball, and that she could think of punishments that were a little less severe during the practice and tell me her thoughts in about an hour. During this time, Little One is getting ready for practice and definitely does not believe he did anything wrong, never mind that his sister whom he knows is lying is currently thinking of ways to punish him. This is where I was walking a tightrope. Had either kid brought up the topic to the other, I would have been burnt toast.
Off to practice we go. Periodically throughout practice Ladybug lobs in a suggestion or two for what she felt were suitable punishments. As the practice wore on the punishments were slowly becoming less severe.
Back at home, she announces to the family: “Little One – I have decided on your punishment.” Keep in mind, Little One has no idea what she is referring to, but goes along anyway (aren’t second kids great!).
Ladybug declares: “Little one…..You have to give me 10 kisses.”
Oh Thank God…I breathe a sight of relief.
Little One responds: “How about twenty?” – remember – he has no idea what Ladybug is talking about….(I repeat – aren’t second kids great!)
Ahhhh. Success. I think. While I will never know the true story I have a pretty good idea that Little One went in for the bite but stopped himself. Obviously at this point, my concern is more about the lying than the actual incident. I understand that talking to a child about lying is a slippery slope to making them feel like a bad person. I know my child well enough to understand that her sensitivity and propensity to becoming over emotional would have far out weighed any productive conversation that we could have had about being truthful. I’m thinking for my next move I’ll have to bring up the fact that she won star student last month for the character trait ‘honesty’ and see what she says. (What – you thought she was some sort of pathological liar or something? I’m telling you, this is isolated! Editor’s Note: Or maybe the start of a trend.) It should make for an interesting conversation! How do you handle your children’s lies?