Time: Last week
Scene: The boy’s bedroom
Crime: Deep scratch marks on the dresser.
Suspect #1: The boy.
After what had been an EXTREMELY trying afternoon with the boy, he’d been sent to his room to calm down. (Apologies to any parents who witnessed the spectacular meltdown at the local school playground, involving hitting, screaming, kicking, and running away.)
Eric and I went up to get him dressed as he was going out to dinner with his grandparents. In his room, I glanced at his dresser and saw that there were deep grooves carved into the bottom drawer.
“Did you do this?” I asked the boy.
“No….” he replied, with his lips doing funny twisting things. He’s such a terrible liar.
“Well then, who did it?”
I called for the girl, who was in her room, and asked, “Did you do this?” while pointing to the dresser.
“No.” She said definitively. “Brudda do it.”
I look back at the boy. “This would be a good time for you to choose to tell the truth. Who scratched your dresser?”
“I…I…she did it! I know she did!”
“How did she do it?”
“Ummm…I don’t know…a sharp pen…or something…” By now he’s shifting uncomfortably from side to side and still doing the funny lip twisting thing.
“Where’s the pen?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, then how did she do it?”
“Well, maybe like this.” He proceed to pick up a ruler nearby with a sharp corner, sit next to the dresser and start to carve another deep line into the bottom drawer, at the exact same height as the others.
I then hand the ruler to the girl and tell her to use it on the dresser like she did before. She lays the ruler flat on top of a half-open drawer and slides it around for a second before losing interest.
I look at the boy again. I’m really trying hard to get that badass Mom look down, you know, the one where kids eventually talk about “The Look” that sent shivers down their spine. I don’t think I’m there yet, but this was a good try.
Eventually, the boy sort of fesses up. He loses a variety of perks, including desserts and TV watching, and gets a good talking to.
I think the worst thing about it is how angry it makes ME. Like, I feel I’ve somehow failed as a parent because my kid is lying.
Some consults to the parenting expert, Mr. Google, have yielded a few thoughts about how to handle stuff like this in the future. First of all, I shouldn’t have asked IF he had scratched the dresser since it gives him an opportunity to lie–I should have just said all the stuff I did at the end of the whole affair–about how even if we’re angry we don’t destroy things, etc. The other tidbit I gleaned was that all 4-6 year olds lie as part of their normal development.
How do you deal with it when your kid lies? (Or have you done a better job than me and they simply never do?)
Coda: While making his bed today, I turn over a pillow to find his name written on it. In black Sharpie. Here we go again.
7 thoughts on “CSI: Denver”
Note: take any of my comments as my self discovery, not necessarily right or wrong.
I feel like there were two things going on here: 1) being angry and carving in the dresser and 2) lying to your face. The second one you should disregard, because as you said, you almost set him up for it. Obviously we don’t want the kids to lie, but since you know he did it, it’s not good to ask. (as a side, with our twins, it unfortunately always obvious what happened, and we therefore NEED to ask, setting ourselves up for the inevitable half-truths and tattling and screaming).
I read something recently that since we in the age of parents not hitting their kids, they start to use words and screaming. Yeah, it’s always real classy being a parent and screaming or trying to verbally spank your kids. But sometimes you get SO. DAMN. ANGRY. that you just want to explode.
but you can’t, of course.
we’re doing the super-nanny thing with the jars (RESPECT, SHARING, PATIENCE) and they get rewarded with a marble each time they do good things. and then one removed when bad. It’s amazing how functional it is to say, “That was very disrespectful, you’re losing a marble.” It both marginally satisfies my desire to punish, and it clearly affects the kids. when the jar is full, they get some toy/treat/movie/whatever. the best thing is that it forces you, the parent, to remember to comment on the good things too. in the end, i feel like it trained US more than THEM.
I love the idea of the jars–you’re right in that it brings focus back to the positive behavior instead of the negative. I think we’ll try that, actually.
I am still trying to figure out who broke rear seat locks of my brand new Toyota Camry in the year 1990. By any chance do you know who did it?
Sujata did it.
I generally ignore the lying, or else point it out in a casual informing kind of way-you just told me something that’s not true. That’s called a lie, and it’s not a good thing to do. I got the lying as developmental stage in a parenting class at one point, and it stuck in my head.
Unfortunately, Sylvie’s generally a lot more destructive than the boy, and I struggle with my own anger as I look at all of my broken cd cases, or all the books outside in the rain because she threw them out the window to decorate the tree, or milk all over the furniture because she was fingerpainitng (she mixed it with something-it didn’t just wipe up), or the constant state of chaos in my office as she pulls out all of my drawers and tears up paper in a matter of seconds. Or all the spices from my rack blended together (finally bought a rack for inside the drawer).
Sorry about the dresser and the playground. When you master The Look, I could use some coaching. I was raised in fear of it, but can’t seem to get it right with my kids…
I liked what a book said about lying at that age – they don’t lie, they just say things to try to please their parents. Puts it in a whole “other” perspective.
Instead of marbles, we do tickets. You can buy a big roll at an office store for cheap. I’ll admit I’ve been a bit lax in the move/divorce, but they get tickets for doing what is expected of them, and lose them for behavioral infractions (hitting, scratching, etc.). At the end of the week they turn in their tickets for treasures in a large pillowcase – I fill with stuff from the dollar store. It really keeps them in line, 90% of the time. They really do want to please us, and when they are getting more stimulus from positive behavior than negative, changes happen.