Where Was Mark Yesterday!!

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.

“Nothing.”

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.”

“It is.”

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.

Or date!

The essential fabric of parenthood has been shredded and I am but a tattered shell.

  16 comments for “Where Was Mark Yesterday!!

  1. Apr 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Wish I had anything more than empathy here.

    Kids try lying on for size occasionally. Unfortunately, they sometimes get away with it. They sometimes don’t. It always shakes my foundations when mine try, so I know how you feel.

    Good Luck repairing your fabric … you can do it. You’ll have to. Over and over. The patchwork you end up with in the end may not be what you thought you started with, but it is still beautiful!
    .-= goofdad´s last blog ..Torn over Scouting =-.

    • Ed
      Apr 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm

      I just got a vision of a patchwork quilt. Fortunately, one of the only things I can actually sew is patchwork.

  2. Dan
    Apr 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    It’s a lesson that needs to be learned. I still remember how ape my parents went when they caught me in a lie once.
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..And you can keep your Blueberry Muffins too damnit =-.

    • Ed
      Apr 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

      My problem is that I fester — and internalize. Good for Zoe, not so good for me.

  3. Apr 14, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    KIDS…. *sighs*
    .-= Susie´s last blog ..The Kindness Club Debuts: Week 1 =-.

    • Ed
      Apr 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

      I’ve been sighing for 2 days solid.

  4. Apr 14, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I think they all do this at some stage, and they usually get caught. She’s probably just testing the waters and…really wanted some gum. I bet she’s very sorry. It’s hard when they do something you really don’t expect though isn’t it?
    .-= Jo Beaufoix´s last blog ..The Joy of Sex – Gallery Week 7 =-.

    • Ed
      Apr 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      I think the hard part is knowing that she is old enough to know better. It hurts.

  5. Apr 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I have caught my daughter lying. I have been disappointed, even more so at how simple it seemed to be (as if I was supposed to be able to see her straining).

    Then I remembered I was a kid once. And shock of all shocks… there were times I lied to my parents. Like everything else it is a learning process.

    You said in a comment above that the seething was good for Zoe but not for you. In some regards that I disagree with. It is probably good for both of you. How so? Well, consequences for lying (in my not so humble opinion of course) need to be enough to teach the child it is wrong, and show that you are disappointed for breaking a trust. However, if the consequences are too severe or terrifying, then suddenly lying becomes “worth it” over the consequences. Know what I mean?

    Yes, of course it is disappointing. But remember that like everything else for a child, it is something they need to learn… and just as importantly, it is an opportunity to teach. Take it and use it, while remembering that you too had to learn this lesson somewhere along the line.
    .-= JayMonster´s last blog ..That 70’s Show… no the real ones. =-.

    • Ed
      Apr 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      That was pretty coherent and pretty much what I need. Thanks, man.

  6. Apr 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Oh God I don’t need to be reading this at all. Not for 8 or years anyway.
    .-= Martin´s last blog ..Walking =-.

    • Apr 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

      Umm … Sorry, Martin … it’s not going to take her 8 years …

      But you’ll love her just the same. Even when she dissappoints, even when it hurts … that’s the definition of UNCONDITIONAL love …

      That’s the definition of fatherhood.
      .-= goofdad´s last blog ..A sign of things to come? =-.

      • Ed
        Apr 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm

        He’s right, Martin. It’s starts much, much earlier — but it’s innocent then. Or at least I’d like to believe that it is.

  7. Apr 16, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Not only was the post eye opening, but the comments too. You got a level headed bunch of readers here Ed.

    Jack has tried to lie a couple of time but he is cursed or blessed, depending on your perpspective, with the inability to lie. He gets it from me.

    That said, I somehow pulled off a few white lies to my parents in my day. And yes, that scares me to my core.
    .-= Kami´s last blog ..Yup, I’m crazy =-.

    • Ed
      Apr 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm

      It takes a village. I’ve received some pretty good advice from some pretty solid people.

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