I recently discussed the value and importance of integrity in dealing with our children. Well, this week we were addressing how to take the moral high road when dealing with other children in situations that seem to us to be unfair. Myu poor darlings, terrified of some fiery, dragonish retort at what an adult might perceive to be childish pettiness, were reluctant to volunteer their ideas on ways to turn the situation around and treat everyone fairly. I encouraged them to be honest and promised to listen to their concerns impartially.
It worked extremely well. They opened up and shared their fears and concerns, as well as some really good ideas for working together in harmony. We laughed and joked and connected. I was delighted.
Of course, my children will never cease to catch me off guard. Once we’d addressed the issues at hand, Goldilocks looked at me very seriously and said, “Mom, please can the same apply to you.”
I was confused. By this stage, we’d moved far from the topic of open sharing, and I didn’t know what the “same” thing was that was supposed to apply to me.
“Honesty,” she answered simply.
“I’m always honest with you! I make an effort to be as open and clear on every subject – as far as is appropriate.”
She looked at me with scathing cynicism, and uttered a single word: “Fairies?”
So I came clean. I explained my views (which took some time) and encouraged them to develop a rich imagination while still understanding the line between fantasy and reality. And I admonished them sternly NOT to tell DeeDee and Dexter – or anyone else their age!
Much later I realised the value of having cleared all that up. “Girls,” I called. “Now that you know the truth, do I still have to give you money when you lose your teeth?”
“Of course not,” they sang out sweetly in chorus.
Then Red Riding Hood, with her piercing (and domestic-focused) mind, asked, “Mom, what do you do with the teeth when you take them out from under the pillow?” (There was a horror-laden pause as she weighed the options). “Do you – *gasp* – throw them away?”
“Well …” I began.
“Yes, you do,” she said pragmatically. “‘Cos otherwise that’d just be GRIM.”
Don’t lie to your kids.