On Tuesdays and occasionally other days of the week I get up early and take Sprout with me to run errands. Tuesdays are our day to visit Someone in jail, but the Evil Genius doesn't like it there and I won't make him go, so he gets an extra measure of trust and responsibility and stays home on his own. Don't worry, there's a list of rules he must follow and he has no fewer than three phones he can call from if there's any trouble, plus the (admittedly not much loved by us) cop two doors down.
Most mornings I remind him to do his chores if he's been up a bit and looks like he's going to get tangled up in play. Some days he gets away with "forgetting" until the afternoon.
Today, he told me he did his chores. I wasn't sure he had, and I asked if he'd done them all. He assured me he had, including pages and writing.
I let him go about his day.
Then I busted him.
The cat boxes? Not scooped. His trash can? Full. Outdoor cats? Not fed. Work pages? Burried under a pile of other things, no way he opened one of those books and did anything in them. Cursive practice? Again, no way, buried under some items that had not been moved from the night before.
So he lied to me. Outright lied. And given a chance to recant and come clean, he upheld the outright lie. Now, it's not as if this was a lie I wouldn't discover. All I had to do was look at the cat box, the trash can, the workbooks, and I would see. He had to know I would see. And I've called him on things like this before. I've asked if he's done his chores and he's owned he hasn't and even said "Let me do that now!" He knows I am neither blind nor stupid.
I am frustrated, as millions of parents before me have been and as millions of parents after me will be. Children will lie. They will lie even in the face of the evidence. Once they've lied, they will strive to uphold the lie despite all the proof before them that they have been caught out and their parents know they've lied. It's part of being a kid and part of growing up to learn when to lie and when to own one's actions.
What I find frustrating is the pettiness of it. I can understand lying about something huge, something that seems so terrible that one doesn't want to face it. But trash? Cat box? Insulting. If am being honest, which more and more I strive to compassionately do, I have to say that some of my ire comes from my past relationship with his father.
My ex-husband is a decent fellow. He came over and helped me with a little automotive battery juggling because I couldn't do it and asked for help. He has been compassionate and supportive of us during this whole jail experience with Someone. Once or twice
You see, he wanted to be liked, to have approval, not to disappoint or deal with unhappiness, so when he regularly didn't do the chores he said he would do, he would lie and say he had done them even when it was obvious he hadn't. Trash? He'd say he took it out even when the can was overflowing onto the kitchen floor, then try to convince me all that rubbish had occurred after he took it out. Even when it was the same trash in the same place. Cat box? He'd say he cleaned it, but it would be full and undisturbed since the last time I looked at it. He'd lie about brushing his teeth, lie about mowing the lawn. Mowing the lawn! Because the grass grew that high since this morning when it was allegedly mowed!
I could not trust him to do what he said he'd do, and I could not trust him when he said he'd done something, and I was overwhelmed by all the things I had to do to try and keep up. I failed. Our home was a mess because I couldn't handle everything, so I did nothing.
I don't take well to being lied to. It is a betrayal that I cannot simply get over, get past. I am sorry to say that it sticks with me and colors everything that follows, and when I am lied to enough, that trust simply cannot be rebuilt. Ever. I don't want to distrust my child. I don't want to wonder how much of what he says to me is bullshit, and I damn sure don't want to spend our time together trying to winkle out the little nuggets of truth in it all.
I talked to the Evil Genius about it. I have told him before and I will tell him again and again that I know he will lie to me. It isn't a question of "if" but rather of "when". I just want him to be sure it's worth what will happen when I find out the truth, when I don't trust him and am disappointed in him. I don't want him so embroiled, so lost in his own web of lies that he can't find the truth with both hands and a flashlight. I certainly don't want him wondering why he's alone and why no one seems to want him for more than a little while.
Compulsive liars lie to feel important, useful, wanted. The sad thing is, many of them don't have to lie to be wonderful people, they just don't think who they really are is enough. It is.