My nine year old son, whom I call “Action figure” since I call many of his sisters “dolls” lied to me recently. This was a big deal. It was one of those quick lies where I asked all of them who did something and he answered along with the rest of them “Not meeeeee!” But the look on his face told me all I needed to know. (Mental note: Tell him never to play poker.)
So there was a big brouhaha made over his lie and there were terrible punishments and gnashing of teeth and the whole thing. But the other night I was thinking that I not only wanted to punish bad behavior but also reward good behavior. I felt that I’d taken for granted all the times my kids fessed up and told a hard truth. So this morning, after I saw about six thousand tabs open on the computer I asked who was on the computer and left open six thousand tabs. See, the thing is, I knew who did it because all the tabs were about ninja turtles and Eli Manning videos. Pretty easy to figure out who the culprit was in a house with only one boy.
But he admitted it right away and I was proud of him. So I called him over and told him how proud I was of him and hugged him. Nice little moment, right? But it seems I’ve created a monster. Now, all morning long the boy keeps coming up to me and admitting things he’d just done. “Dad, I pushed my sister?”
“Because she jumped off the couch on top of me and I pushed her off but I thought I should tell you what I did.”
“Well,” I responded, “when someone jumps on your head it seems pretty reasonable to push them off so I’m glad you told me.”
Later, he comes up to me and says, “Dad I took my sister’s spot when she got up to go to the bathroom.”
“Well, did she ask for it back?”
“Well,” he said. “She’s not back from the bathroom yet.”
Oh. And I thanked him again for keeping me in the loop of his seemingly constant litany of violations.
He just told me that last week he threw the football to his little sister even though she wasn’t looking. I told him it was ok because I’ve never seen him throw anything near his intended target. And then I thanked him for letting me know and I told him how much I appreciated his honesty.
It’s been like this all morning. He’s admitting to things he did weeks ago. I guess I’m happy about it but it’s getting old fast. I guess this is a good problem to have, right? But he almost has me pining for the silence of deceitful children. I guess I should count my blessings. My very upfront and honest and constant blessings.
Oh, here he comes now…