I am blogging for one reason today and one reason alone. To purge my soul of the guilt I am carrying around with me. So, here goes.
First of all, let me tell you, I am a guilt expert. I was born with strong guilt genes. I was baptized into the Catholic church, which any good Catholic knows specializes in guilt (and if you don't know that, you aren't going to church enough and you probably feel guilty about that). Then... then I became a mother and both my guilt genes and my blue jeans increased substantially in size. So, I knows me some guilt.
How shall I begin? Let's see. Oh yes, my daughter. She has a teensy weensy issue with lying. It's been going on a while now. And she is the worst liar ever, which is why we are baffled as to why she insists on making it her life's work. It started when she was little. Her mantra was "Deny at all cost". I recall walking into the kitchen when she was 2. I see her and she is eating a cookie. Half of it is in her hand, she is chewing the other half, chocolate and crumbs all over her face. I say "What are you doing eating a cookie? It's almost dinner time." She looked right at me - blue eyes wide and shining and said "I'm not eating a cookie." When she said it, cookie actually flew out of her mouth. And yet, she stuck with her story that there was no cookie and looked at me with indigence that I should dare accuse her of the crime.
My husband and I were unequipped to deal with this issue. Our son, the oldest, is honest to a fault. He has no edit button and very little ability or reason to lie. So, when daughter came along, we were dumbfounded.
As she got older, she tended to lie to cover up naughtiness. There was a lovely pencil and crayon masterpiece drawn on the toy room wall. For two days she denied ownership of the painting. Finally, she broke down and confessed. Lots of tears flowed as she told us that she was the artist. But she did add that she hadn't done it recently, but rather a long time ago when she was little and didn't know better (the week before).
Lately, she's had a few cases of the Dramatic Flu in an attempt to get me to come fetch her from school. She misses me, she says. I miss her too. But I leave her at school. Until we see actual vomit, mom isn't coming to get her. Life's lessons are hard.
We've gone over it all a million times. We have told her about the boy who cried wolf, we've explained the virtues of honesty, we've punished her for lying and we've rewarded her when she is honest at every turn.
And for the most part, she has greatly improved and now regularly tells on herself and purges her soul of its lying ways. She is an incredibly sensitive girl and does not enjoy getting in trouble at all. I am proud that she is making steps in the right direction.
However, today. Today we had a backslide.
I knew something was up when I picked her from school yesterday. As she said goodbye to her classmates, there was quite a display from the group. Lots of hugs and "I'll miss you Molly"s coming from the group. She looked like a soldier heading off to war. It seemed odd, but I didn't think much more of it.
This morning as we were getting ready for school, I could see Molly's anxiety building. She didn't want to go to school, she didn't feel good, she needed a day off... etc etc... So, I took her in her room, snuggled her on her bed and said "What's up, honey? What is going on at school that you want to avoid today?"
After much hemming and hawing, it came out. And it went something like this:
"Mommy... I did something really stupid and now I don't know what to do about it. I told Jordon I was going to California today to see my Grandma and that I wouldn't be back until after Christmas. And Jordon was so excited that he told everyone in my class and now everyone thinks I am going to California and when I get to school today everyone is going to know I didn't go to California and no one will like me anymore."
And then she started sobbing... really sobbing. She looked so small and broken. And it killed me.
Who among us hasn't been in that very spot? When you dig yourself into a hole and you just don't know how to get out of it. And all you want is an answer, a way out, a magic pill.
I talked to her about lying and all the things a mom is supposed to say and then had her continue to get ready for school. She got herself together, but I could see she was miserable inside.
We dropped her brother off at school and headed to her school. I parked the car, got out and climbed in the back seat with my daughter. I put my hands on her shoulders and said "Molly, I am going to help you out today. I am going to tell your friends we aren't going to California after all. But I want you to know, I won't ever do it again. The next time you get yourself in a mess like this, you will have to face the music and tell your friends you made up a story. And I am warning you that they might not want to be your friend anymore. So, today I will help you out. But never again, understand?".
And she threw her arms around me and sobbed with relief.
Together we walked up to school and her class was waiting in line. I summoned Jordon over to us and said "Molly won't be going to California after all... spread the word". Jordon fist pumped the air and yelled "YES! I didn't want her to leave anyway!" and off he ran to spread the word like Paul Revere notifying the colonial militia that the British were coming.
I looked down at my daughter and winked. She gave me a hug and I left her there to accept the hugs from her classmates that were happy to have her back from the trip she didn't take.
So, all in all, not my finest parenting moment. Any pro would tell you that I should have let her accept the consequences of her behavior. But today, I threw her a lifeline instead. It probably wasn't the right thing to do, and that's why I am feeling a little guilty. But I did it anyway. And it felt pretty good.
And that's no lie.