When I arrived home from work yesterday, my husband and I convened a meeting to decide what punishment fit the crime of lying. “Well I think all electronics should be off limits tonight, once his homework is completed” I suggested even though that punishment is so common in our house. “You know on second thought…” I began, “He should be grounded from his grandmother’s video game console for awhile”. I said. “Is that the only system that would play that video game?” His father wondered before adding, “Yes he should talk with his grandmother instead of playing a video game when he visits…”
Overhearing our conversation the boy opened the kitchen door; entered saying, “This is all one big misunderstanding…” “Please stop.” I offered. “No this was one big accident Mom…” “You realize you’re digging a deeper hole….” His father tried. “NO YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!!” he shouted “I HAVE A VALID EXCUSE”. Shaking my head I took the bait and replied, “You’re right an “excuse”…not a truth but an excuse to cover up your lie”. “There is no valid excuse. You lied. You were caught. Accept your punishment.” His father suggested. “I didn’t inherently know the money wasn’t mine to spend” He argued. “Bay…I’m done arguing with you. You lied. You may not believe you did…but I caught you this morning. Now you’re backtracking and if you continue this trend the punishment will be worse. So do yourself a favor and shut up!” I said before turning to my husband and exasperately saying “Jeeeze…make him stop!”
“Boy seriously, you’re making this worse than it has to be. You were caught in the lie and your continuing efforts to perpetuate the lie are only making matters worse for you. Do yourself a favor and quit while you’re ahead…” His father tried. “The video game is going back. You owe me $4 that you gave to your friend…and I’ll take that out in you raking the front yard. As for your future video game playing…you’re grounded and I don’t know when that will be lifted…” “Probably never because you keep extending them…indefinitely…” the boy gruffed out. “You know for a smart boy, I would have thought at some point shutting your mouth would have occured to you….” His father said shaking his head. “Now go do your homework.”
I was exhausted last night. Between work, the boy’s overall confrontation and a house that has several projects going on at once. The last thing I wanted to do was return a video game. “I should make the boy go with me…and explain why…” I said aloud while getting stuff together. “In leu of grounding him?” His father offered. “I don’t have a problem with that…only if he understands–own it”. I replied. “Bay….” I called for him to come into the room. “I have an offer for you…in leu of being grounded, how about you return the video game with your mom and explain to the clerk why…” His father said. Looking back at us both he nodded his head in agreement and proceeded to get ready to leave.
On the ride to the store he said to me, “Mom when the time comes for me to walk the Appalation Trail, make me do it please”. “Okay, I can hear the conversation right now…’You’re fifteen year old self would be very dissappointed that you chose not to walk the trail.’ and your reply to me would be ‘Oh well'”. I said. “No mom you have to make me. You see I’m very indecisive…I get this from Dad. And when I am decisive, I make poor decisions. So you have to promise me to push me into walking the trail…”
When we entered the store and approached the counter, the clerk asked if we needed help. The boy stood there holding the cartridge and said, “Yes I need to return this because I used illegitimate funds in which to pur….” Before I interrupted. “What? Try again…go on try again. The clerk, sensing the importance of this learning experience said, “No problem, can I have your phone number…” “Try again bay…” I encouraged. “I purchased this using my mothers money not mine…” He tried. “No…that’s not it either bay…try again.” I said. “No problem, I got it…all I need is a phone number…” The clerk replied probably wishing he had remained in the store room instead of coming out to help the busy store. The boy spit out our number to the clerk and then looked back at me. “Tell the truth bay, I want to hear you say and own what you did.” “But he’s already processing the return..” He replied hoping that was enough. “That’s not why we’re here…and you know that” I said. Taking a deep breath he stuttered out “I used my mother’s money to buy myself a game without her permission” “And…?” I asked. “And I lied about it…” He said quietly. “Okay and here’s your money and have a great night…” the clerk said to me.
“Mom I don’t like when you’re upset with me…” The boy said on the car ride home. “I don’t like being upset with you either…” I said. “You could have fooled me. You seem to be upset with me all the time…” He replied. “Bay…I have high expectations of you…true and I push you. But you have a very cushy life here. I may yell about your grades, house chores and stuff…but take a look at your bedroom. If I was a real hard ass, you’re room would be spotless. If I were a real hardass we-your father and I; would expect even more from you… But what I will not accept…is you lying to me. That is unacceptable. Had you told me the truth from the get go I would have probably shook my head and then said, “Consider this one of your Christmas presents… But you took that choice away from me. By lying and then trying to cover up the lie by arguing with me you basically said Fuck You Mom and Dad! And that is unacceptable”. “No that’s not what….” He tried to interrupt. “Be that as it may bay…that’s how your dad and I feel…” He lowered his head and for the first time said “I’m sorry”.
“I know…me too”.