Friday, April 1, 2011

Telling the truth is hard (continued)

Yesterday I told you about the problems I’ve had in the past couple of days with Monkey not telling the truth. I ended the post with his letters of apology for stealing money and then lying about it. Let’s continue the story, shall we?
After he gave me the fourth version of the apology letter, I decided I should just be okay with it. I was still unhappy with the series of events and knew his efforts weren’t ideal. But, what is ideal for him? Were my expectations too high? After all, his brain is different. It’s hard to know what he is thinking and how he processes information. He had completed the exercise, and I saw that he was still struggling with his feelings of upset at the situation. I would rather him take those feelings out on paper, so I respected his efforts and determined he was done. He was visibly relieved.
I ran him back through the process. He had been untruthful. He had confessed to both me and his Dad. He had written a letter of apology. Now he needed to ask for forgiveness through prayer. I helped him pray and then we cuddled in the chair together. He was still sad about not being able to play with his electronics and also losing his magnet. I just needed the hug from him. It can be trying to keep yourself together and maintain a serene attitude when you certainly don’t feel like being calm. I was tired from the whole ordeal but felt grateful that he allowed me to silently cuddle with him for a few minutes. I think it made both of us feel better.   
When Titan got home from work, we talked about what happened. I asked Monkey to bring out the book I had him read during quiet time and give it to his Dad. Titan flipped through the pages, gleaning an overview of the story and then asked Monkey to tell him what the story was about. I have to say, we were blown away by his summary. It was detailed and he was able to answer each of the questions we asked him. This in and of itself is a huge moment of progress for him, and we knew it. Comprehension is an area of struggle for him, so we were proud to see that he had not only read the story, but he could also talk about it successfully. We ended the day feeling better about the whole situation, feeling a sense of resolution by the time he went to bed that night.
The next day I woke up and came out to the kitchen. I saw both boys waiting for me with strange looks on their faces. The look on my face must have changed because Monkey immediately said, “He ate a granola bar,” referring to his brother. My mommy radar was on high alert and I knew that was a bunch of malarkey. The one good thing about Monkey’s dishonesty (if there is such a thing) is his age. He is young enough that he almost always has a “tell” when he is lying. It makes my job easier when he unhesitatingly blames his brother for something, because 99% of the time I know the exact opposite is the truth.
Me: “So, he ate a granola bar?”
Prince Charming: “I didn’t eat a granola bar! He did!”
Monkey: “No, I didn’t!”
I headed over to the trash can and opened it. I saw 3 wrappers. I silently cursed in my head because I knew I was in for a fun morning of playing truth detective once again.
Me: “How many granola bars did you eat?”
Prince Charming: “I didn’t have any. He did. He had 3.”
Me: Looking at Monkey, I said, “Were you being honest when you told me that he ate a granola bar?”
Monkey: “No.” He hurriedly said, “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” hoping the apology would save him from trouble.
Me: “How many did you eat?”
Monkey: “Three.”
Me: “Do I ever allow you to eat more than one granola bar at a time?”
Monkey: “No.”
Me: “You know the rule. You also know that you lied. I will not be making you anything for breakfast since you already ate 3 granola bars without my permission. I will be giving you a check mark on your board for your honesty goal. You are excused. Go get your clothes on for school.”
He was not happy about that and started whining and pseudo-crying. Whenever he complained about being hungry and not getting his breakfast, I reminded him that he chose to break the rules and not tell the truth, and that he already ate so his tummy should feel fine. By his reaction you would think that he hadn’t eaten for a week.
After Prince Charming got on the bus, I had some time to talk with Monkey before he had to leave for his bus. I made sure to remain quiet and calm so that he would not feed off of any of my emotions, which would only make things worse. We called his Dad at work and told him what happened. I was feeling déjà vu. Hadn’t we just done this?  
Titan: “I’m trying to understand why you think it’s okay to be dishonest. Do you see kids at your school lie about things?”
Monkey: “No. Some of the kids in my school are amazing.”
Titan: “Well, you know our rules about telling the truth. Why do you think it’s okay to lie?”
Monkey: “I don’t have the right equipment.”
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to think about his statement. I don’t have the right equipment… I’d like to think that this was some superior insight into the way his brain works—that he didn’t understand it himself but knew something was different. I don’t know if I will ever truly know what goes on with his thought processes. I just hope that sometime soon we can break through and help him understand the importance of telling the truth.
Do you struggle with your child telling the truth? What do you do to help them with the concept?       

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