Posted by: morrowsl | August 5, 2013

Honestly?

The grandson and I had a discussion, during our ride home from his school one day last week, about honesty and the importance of admitting your mistakes, or owning up to those things you’ve done that you shouldn’t have.  He’d done something in class that got him in trouble (minor, since we didn’t hear about it from his teacher), so when I asked about his day and he hesitated to reply, I knew he didn’t want to tell me about it.  It took some time, and required a great deal of creativity on his part, but the truth won out at last.  He’d “accidentally” hit his best friend Matthew and then tried to say someone else was to blame.  I listened as he carefully crafted the scenario to protect himself, nodding and mmhhmming at all the appropriate times.  Then I explained that it’s really much better if, when you’ve done something bad or wrong, you admit what you’ve done and ask forgiveness for it than it is to try and cover it up.  If you do wrong, you’ll be punished.  But if you do wrong and then lie about it, you’ll be punished twice.
I could see I was getting through to him and eventually we got round to the truth.  I thanked him for being honest and rewarded his honesty with ice cream.  Yes, he did try to weasel out of it, but I value that final truth enough to forgive the earlier missteps.
You just gotta recognize and pick the important battles.

We’re all working hard to instill in him the core values he needs to be happy and successful in life, but for me, honesty is the most important and I’ve taken it on as my main theme with him.
So, this was an opportunity to help him understand how telling the teacher exactly what happened, even if he had to admit he did something wrong or mean on purpose, would help his cause overall.  And I told him that always, if he’s done something he doesn’t want to tell his parents, he can tell me.  We all need someone we can confess our sins to without fear or reservation.  Some people have a priest.  My Tater has a Mamoo.

I think the reason I want him to be honest isn’t just that I want him to be honest.

I spent most of my childhood trying hard to fly below the radars of the adults in charge of my life lessons.  I rarely lied.  I didn’t search out the unwrapped Christmas presents.  I was really good at playing alone.  I did my homework and went to school every day.  But I was surrounded by people who thought that children didn’t need to know certain things and so they would lie about them.

“Mom, what happened to (insert dog name of choice, there were several)?”
“Oh, he went to visit a friend in another state.”
This was the answer for a dog that was given away.

“Daddy, all of our new puppies’ tails have been cut off!!”
“Those silly puppies got their tails caught in the refrigerator door!!”
This was the answer after he’d docked all their tails because he didn’t like long-tailed dogs.

“Hey, why are you catching fish and I’m not?”
“You didn’t put aftershave on your hands.”
This instead of admitting that the boat nose was directly over the brush pile while the back, where I’d been told to sit, was over nothing much.  That way, nobody had to help me get untangled.

Yes, these examples are minor.  But they set me up to be a very trusting kid in an untrustworthy world.

And I won’t even go into the preachers, politicians, and all the rest who lied to all of us!!

I think it was more a generational thing.  It went hand-in-hand with the “spare the rod, spoil the child” and “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” mentality of my grandparents, who passed it on to my parents, who passed it on to me and my siblings.  Those in charge were the only ones who were supposed to know “the whole truth” and the rest of us were meant to accept it and carry on.

Thus armed, I began my own non-familial relationships.  In very short order I lost my virginity to a drunk who professed to love me just before he married the cheerleader he’d knocked up.  I quit high school to marry a guy who took out his anger and frustration at everyone else on my face, but always swore he was so sorry and would never do it again.  I rebounded from divorce by marrying a guy who had issues with women thanks to an overbearing mother and ended up leaving town with his next wife before he’d managed to divorce his current, and pregnant, one.  And through it all I fell for every promise, every story, every lie.
I seriously considered at one point having “sucker” tattooed on my forehead.

So, I learned how to spot a liar and developed a fine tuning mechanism for pulling lies out of those who just couldn’t figure out how to be honest.  I developed a skill set for identifying those who hide behind false images and live with fantastical alter egos.  I can smell a rat a mile off.

Then came the internet and a whole new set of parameters.  Trust and honesty began to fly out the window and anyone could be a successful and undetected liar.  There are people who make it their mission in life to deceive using the internet.  Dishonesty rules the ether!!
Most of those are people I’ll hopefully never encounter.

All the same, there are still those lingering few who have never been happy with their own truth and feel compelled to create and invent.  And lie.  I think, although I’m not positive, I’ve had a brush with just that sort of person recently.  It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Makes me feel taken advantage of.  It reminds me of all the times I ever turned the other cheek, only to have that one slapped just as hard.  And it thoroughly pisses me off!!

I’ve been working on how best to deal with the situation.  And my feelings.  I’m trying to reach deep down and find the part of me who once believed in the universal good in people and see if there’s a shred of it left for this person.  I’m trying hard to listen to that voice, the one I hear when I’m talking to my grandson about honesty and the dignity of being an honest person.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.


Responses

  1. Well done, my friend.

    • Thank you!! And if ever a blog resonated with me, yours has!! Holding loosely and moving on!

  2. I’m so glad to find there are other people who feel the same way I do about honesty! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve spent break times in the classroom with children, attempting to unravel the web of lies that they construct so easily to ensure that they are not going to take any kind of responsibility for their own actions. I hope that somewhere along the way, I’ve managed to instil at least a small portion of what you’re achieving with your grandson… we can only live in hope! Well done you 🙂

    • Well, Liz, he’s only five, so the jury may still be out on him!! However, his parents and grandparents are very involved with his school activities and plan to stay that way. He won’t be able to get by with much so long as the lines of communication stay open. And that happens at home as well, so here’s hoping all that’s needed for this one is a gentle reminder now and again.

  3. Tater is SO lucky to have you in his life!!! I’m betting you will always be his go-to person in times of trouble.

    As for the new person to let you down, if it’s who I think it is, there is MUCH good there, I’m sure of it. You just aren’t seeing it right now (me either!! LOL). Try hard to be a duck…and let it roll off your back. Focus on the ones that DO appreciate you! Love you big!

    • I hope he always feels he can bring his troubles to me. And his joys!! I’m learning so much from him.

      As for the other person… time to move on down, move on down the road!! I’m already over it.

  4. I love this. I am so proud of you for teaching him these lessons.

    I was raised in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” family where secrets/lies were a way of life. It took me a long long long time to shake that way of life off my back. I did a lot of damage to relationships along the way. I wish there had been someone like you to help me with that lesson when I was young. Hard to learn right from wrong as a youngster when the adults around you are giving you mixed messages.

    • I had to learn to forgive my parents first. THAT was hard, because I had to admit they weren’t perfect and that they’d done the best they could with the tools they had.
      Then I had to forgive both exes. That was a bit easier after #1 died – I told him in my prayers that I know it wasn’t all on him and that I wished his soul a safe journey. I know how to contact #2, but have decided to let sleeping dogs lie and send prayers for his soul.
      And I had to forgive myself. For trying too hard to be whoever others wanted me to be and thinking I’d failed, when all along I’d only just done what was right for me.
      I wish I’d had someone like me when I was a kid too. I wasn’t there for MY kids either.
      But I can be there for my grands. That’s a gift!!


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