Sophie: Do you think Santa will bring me a new high chair for my babies for Christmas?
Mommy: What do you think he'll think about the fact that you broke the old one?
Sophie: I'll hide it. He won't know. And you won't tell.
Every parent has seen it happen. Babies wait until that moment during a diaper change when the "protection" is off and the parent's back is turned while they're either disposing of the disgusting Pampers or pulling out a new one in order to pee a river all over the changing table (or worse, the bed).
As they grow older, it just gets worse. Who among us hasn't opened a closet and found a broken item that's been missing for months. For me, it was opening a drawer in the living room and finding a half-eaten Pop Tart. They start out devious and it just gets worse as children get older.
Sophie's solution to her high chair dilemma was fast and well thought-out. I watched her mind process the problem and come up with the solution within seconds. There was just the faintest pause between each short sentence as she thought of each problem and immediately came up with the corresponding answer to it. One part of me was impressed with her fast processing, but the other part was sad at how easily she came to the conclusion that deception and cover-up would be the best solution (I'd make a politician joke here but that would be too easy).
Even with this, there are moments of sunshine when Sophie's honesty brightens the room. We're working on a method of stopping the thumb sucking entirely. She only does it when watching television or in bed, but it's time for it to go away completely. So, there's a chart on the refrigerator and every day that she doesn't suck her thumb she gets to put a sticker on the chart. She can choose a trip for lunch at McDonalds, Wendy's, or Cici's. She can also choose a tattoo or an item at the dollar store. At the end of the day we ask her if she's sucked her thumb at all. Amazingly, if she has she tells us. I don't know if she'll realize some day that a lie will get her what she wants or not. Maybe she's already thought that through and decided that we'll just stop believing her if she says that she hasn't. Plus, she still believes that I have eyes in the back of my head so she might even be thinking that our asking is just a test.
We definitely realize that the art of lying and deception will be fed by peer pressure as Sophie grows older and will work against what we're trying to teach her. It's already happened. She had a playmate that's a good bit older than her at the house and they didn't realize how well sound travels from her room to my office. At one point I heard the friend say, "...and don't tell your mother." I didn't know what the situation was but I immediately called both girls into my office and had Sophie stand next to me.
Very gently and with lots of love I explained to her how she can always tell me anything. I told her that if she has even done anything wrong I would be more saddened and upset that she tried to cover it up or hide it than by what she had actually done; and that when (not if) I found out, the discipline would be more than it would have been without the lie. Her friend was watching the two of us talk with an open mouth. Her parents may have a different way of handling discipline (I'm being politically correct; I KNOW they have a different way), but my mom dealt with us by talking through things before discipline was meted out simply to make sure that any was necessary and to what level it should be given.
As time goes on and I'm not there to hear the whispered words and watch Sophie see others lie and deceive, I hope that this is building a strong enough foundation that she'll be confident in her choices to do the right thing. Hopefully her strong will can influence others instead of her being influenced.
Fortunately the One that sees if we've been bad or good is also very forgiving. She knows who He is too, thank goodness and that's the strongest and most stable foundation we can ever hope for.