Always tell the truth. That way, you never have to remember what you said. Mark Twain
According to legend, and other manuscripts held in general high regard, there are ten commandments. Ten rather specific edicts which, if followed closely, serve a fairly good moral foundation. Arguably, a person that holds to these tenets would be in pretty good standing with the rest of society. God, too.
Conversely, the person (whomever he or she may be) that voluntarily acts in such a manner that directly opposes these ten simple rules would as a result fail to maintain such elevated standing with society. Or her parents.
Zoë at last count, had broken 3 of the 10 in a matter of 30 minutes yesterday afternoon. Three of ten!!! I feel certain that a purist could extrapolate and umbrella a few more but for the sake of sanity, I think we’ll stop there.
It was a simple question. Not even accusatory or asked in a manner that would imply any sort of retribution regardless of Zoë’s answer.
“What do you have in your mouth?” Maura had asked her.
And ….. we’re off.
You see, Zoë could have just plainly come clean, told the truth right there and the story would have been over. But she made choices. For whatever reason, she decided that truth would not serve her purposes and an elaborate web began to take shape.
Benign, sure. But it didn’t stop there.
“It doesn’t smell like nothing,” Maura pushed further.
“I just brushed my teeth,” Zoë quickly countered.
“It doesn’t smell like toothpaste, Zoë.”
And the story begins to unfold. Unfortunately, story here means just that. It’s a story and none of it is true. She insisted it was toothpaste and even opened her mouth revealing nothing. She even ran upstairs to grab a tube of toothpaste and brought it down for Maura to smell.
They say a shark can smell a single drop of blood in the water from over a mile away. Shark’s got nothing on my wife. Maura has an olfactory system that would make a bloodhound jealous. Unlike me, who has basically no sense of smell, Maura’s nose is finely tuned. And discerning.
“Zoë, it doesn’t smell like toothpaste,” she again stated but let it drop. Zoë was adamant that she had nothing in her mouth insisting that it was the lingering scent from her freshly brushed teeth.
Not thirty minutes had passed when Maura again noticed Zoë chomping away and asked her what she had in her mouth.
“Nothing!” Zoë exclaimed and opened her mouth. Only this time she failed to hide the large wad of gum she had been chewing all along.
When angry, count four. When very angry — swear. Mark Twain
Maura showed remarkable restraint, much more so than I am probably capable. To say that we were both disappointed only sugarcoats the flood of emotions Zoë’s actions set afire. The kid flat out lied — unhesitatingly. Why? What does that say about a kid that can so easily and convincingly resort to deception? Rather than to do the right thing? (A phrase I have used with all of my kids too many times to count.)
So here we are, today, nearly 24 hours later and I find myself still angry. All over a freaking stick of Big Red!! All she had to do was say, “It’s gum.” Then we would have said, “Spit it out.” End of story. Instead she chose to drive a wedge into the very foundation of trust that will one day allow me to let her drive, or get a job.
The essential fabric of parenthood has been shredded and I am but a tattered shell.