The first lie

Do you remember when you told your first lie? Did you get caught? Did you get punished? Did you feel it was wrong to tell lies?

We are still in the age of innocence. I mean Jackie is. We make up stories every day, fun stories, processing stories, and if there is something even slightly off-course she calls it out: “You’re joking!” We talk about the truth, as a concept, as desirable, and safe.

Based on some reading I’ve been doing, it appears that we humans develop as inherent truth tellers or as liars. It’s a journey of formation of tendency. It’s never too late to embrace truth at all costs, but the later we start I guess the harder it is.

Jackie is a confessor. And I love that about her. Yet a couple of days ago she said her first premeditated lie. If it’s a yes or no question she doesn’t have the capacity to lie straight with yes or no, but she says “aha” or “naha” avoiding eye contact.

I don’t remember my parents talking to me about lying or truth telling. But I know we’ve talked about it at length in Sunday School, and how telling lies is a sin. And I made the decision in my heart to not tell lies. On the other hand, before I was a teenager I stole money from my dad’s pocket to buy myself sweets, just like my neighbor kids. I felt the heaviest pangs of guilt, yet I did it more than once.

Like with all healthy choices, choosing to tell the truth has to come from within, despite outward pressure or consequences. This is what I strive to help Jackie to do. I may be overly aware, and I can read people a little too well, but I can’t pretend I don’t see right through.

So here’s the trouble. Jackie picks at her upper lip which barely gets a chance to heal, when she picks off the dry skin making it raw again. I had read her a book about frog and toad who learned about what having a strong will means, when trying to not eat all the cookies. After a nap she proudly declared: “i didn’t pick at my lip. I had a strong will!” and she did.

But the other day when we picked her up from kindergarten she said, before we even asked her, “I didn’t pick at my lip”. We then went to the park where conrad noticed a little dry blood on her finger. So he asked her: “jackie you have a bloody finger. Did you pinch your lip today?” brief pause – “naha!” So I stooped down and we had a slow conversation about what might have happened. Then said: “there is no consequence for pinching your lip, and we’ll stay at the park as we set out to do, but I need you to think for a minute and then tell me the truth. Did you pinch your lip today?” Don’t rush. Think about it. We can both see blood on your finger and your lip slightly red.”

-“Naha!” So we left the park and she had the loudest tantrum. She wailed all the way home. And we let her, but calmly I repeated just once while she listened: “there was no consequence for picking at your lip, but there is a consequence for lying”.

She is almost 4. We all learn as we go.

A couple of days later we ran into the same issue. On our road trip I saw her picking at her lip in the review mirror. I told her I saw her and stopped her from saying anything until we put all the cards on the table. Daddy told her: “Jackie, mommy saw you. When she asks you respond because that is the truth. Say “I’m sorry, I will try my hardest not to pick at my lip.” She looked at me and said: “I’m sorry. I think I was picking at my lip. Yes. This is what it means to tell the truth?”