We are hosting Dr. D.’s three nieces (two aged 11 and a 7 year old) for the summer and it’s certainly been an adventure to go from one toddler to four kids in the house. One of the things I’ve observed in the time the girls have been with us is how much elementary school aged children lie. Over the past several days I’ve caught the girls in any number of lies ranging from big (“We don’t know HOW that magic marker ended up on the blanket, Auntie Portia.”) to small (“Yes, we washed our hands.” *said while nails are caked with dirt*). Now most kids are lousy liars and these three are no exception. Sunday morning I went into their room to find chocolate (food is forbidden upstairs) on the carpet and mattress of the youngest child. I asked who brought the candy upstairs. They each gave each other the “Don’t-You-Dare-Tell-Her-Or-I’ll-Kick-Your-Butt” look before looking away, shifty-eyed. “We don’t know,” they said in unison. I tell them I know the candy didn’t make it upstairs on its own and that someone wasn’t telling the truth. We’ll all just sit here until someone comes clean. I’ve got all day. That’s when they all began throwing each other under the bus. “N. told me to do it!” “No I didn’t. It was your idea!” “Shut up! You are such a liar!” And so it went.
I sat the three of them down to talk about lying and its consequences. I tried to put it into a context that an elementary school aged child could understand. We talked about the meaning of being honest and trustworthy. We also talked about being your own person and not following the crowd just because someone else is doing something wrong. Now, only time will tell if this if little speech made an impact (I’m sure I’ll have to give it 50,000 more times), but it did get me thinking about how often we adults lie every day – big and small.
There is the white lie. We feign illness when we want to get out of attending a social event; or a friend gets a new hair cut and we tell her it looks super even if we think it’s a disaster. And there are bigger lies. We don’t come clean with an employee about why she is not getting promoted and instead continue to tell her she is doing a great job.
There are the lies we tell ourselves, ” I’ll start my diet on Monday. I deserve this molten chocolate cake.” Sometimes we lie to keep from hurting another’s feelings or because we don’t want to take responsibility for our actions.
I am certainly guilty of telling white lies every now and then. For instance, I bailed on an early morning appointment last week (and no, I won’t tell you which one just in case the person is reading this post!) because I was exhausted and wanted to sleep in. I said I had a sudden conflict at work. Now why didn’t I just tell truth and simply say,” You know, S. it’s been a long week and I really need to reschedule and get some rest.” What’s wrong with the truth? My mother-in-law used to say, “A lie doesn’t care who tells it.” A lie is a lie.
Be honest. How often do you find yourself lying- even telling little lies? Do you think lying ever justified?