Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pants on Fire

A Reminiscence
(Note: This is from sometime last year before FJ started Kindergarten. In an effort to create more, or anything, I am wading through a sea of drafts and notes, hoping to spark something.)

When people say, “Children are so innocent” or “Kids never lie,” first of all, they clearly have no children, and secondly, they mean, “Kids will say out loud whatever shit comes into their heads, like ‘Mama, that man is really fat!’ causing shame and embarrassment for all within earshot."

There’s a difference.

Sure, exclaiming that someone is fat may be the truth as that kid perceives it, but kids are not innocent. Kids are all about self-protection and ass-covering from an early age.

Furthermore, I have observed that far from the threat of punishment altering a child’s behavior for the better, it just causes them make shit up or try to cover their tracks. Just like grown-ups.

I don't know why we expect anything different.

Just this morning, Finn came racing into the kitchen, cheek bulging with a hard candy mint. “Do you have a mint in your mouth?”

Wheels turning visibly.

Head shakes “no.”

“Why are you lying? I can see it. Tell the truth: do you have a mint in your mouth?”

Head nods “yes.”

“Honey, no running with a mint in your mouth. You could choke. Now, what did you need to tell me?”

“Can I have some hot cocoa with whipped cream?”

“You have to wait until you finish your mint. Go back and sit on the couch.”

And his counterpart: Idiot.

The last one being me. I rewarded his lie with hot chocolate that he didn't even drink until it was cold, thus negating the "hot" and rendering useless the work units put into the beverage.

Earlier this morning, he went to have his first bathroom visit (he holds it all night long and sometimes even longer), and by the time I came around the corner, he was crouching above a small pond of pee with a teeny wad of toilet paper in his hand. “Don’t worry, mama. I’ll clean it up.”

I flashed through the cat barf and cat poop and cat pee I clean up weekly, remembered all the diapers we scrubbed and washed, and thought, “Still? Really?”

Simultaneously, I realized that he knows how crazy this makes me, and he does not want to get into trouble nor does he want to upset me (few people do). In order to protect himself, he was going to try to clean it up before I saw it. Knowing that this would only make for more mess, I did not make him clean it up. He’s 4, almost 5, and sure, he has to learn to go right when he has to go instead of 30 minutes later, and it does, indeed, make me nuts when half the pee goes on the floor, but it’s not like he’s a Supreme Court Justice or retail cashier. He's a kid.

Though he is just as full of equivocating, subterfuge, and blame-shifting.

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