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.