Monday, October 28, 2013

On Not Telling the Truth, Nothing But the Truth

This post was inspired by The Dinner, a novel by Herman Koch. Two brothers and their wives sit down for a tension filled dinner, avoiding a tragedy that could change both families' lives forever. Join From Left to Write on October 29th and we discuss The Dinner. As a member I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
Some time ago Mary did something sneaky and she got caught. It wasn't terribly egregious, no permanent harm was done, but she knew she was doing something wrong and she continued to do it, the fun getting in the way of her six year old moral compass. It bothers her still.

Discovering these secrets is often a mystery unfolding, unraveling as piece by piece things come together to form a whole picture. For Mary it was my finding a bit of packaging from something she was not supposed to have opened, and it rapidly snowballed from there. She watched as I put together what had happened, watched terrified as I found, bit by bit, what she had done. And the truth is that I was angry at her for being sneaky but I felt bad that she thought it necessary.

Secrets are that way, one leads to another, one covering for the last, but when that code is cracked, the free fall is fast and furious. And the landing quite painful, even when you have just opened something you were told not to, something you wanted so much to play with you felt compelled to hide. 

There must be repercussions, because even though there was no real harm done, the lesson must be learned. Sneaking is bad, hiding is lying, and lessons learned now, over trivial incidents, can ease a good deal of pain and angst when the stakes are much higher.

As she often does, Mary flipped through the book I've been reading, not one meant for 9 year old eyes.

"What is this about Mom? People going out to dinner?".

My bookmark was in the last quarter of the book, "kind of, but also about a family, and what happens when people are not honest. It's almost like a mystery.".

She was quiet for a bit, reading the back cover and thinking, "and you need to write something about this book also?".

"I do, although I'm not sure what I'm going to write. In the story someone makes a bad decision, they do something wrong and then try to hide it. Do you have any ideas, things I could write about?".

She smiled, "what about the toy Mom? When I opened the toy? That was wrong and I tried to hide it".

As much as I hate that even now, three years later, she still thinks about what was really one very small incident, I hope that the impression made can last for years, when telling the truth is more than the right thing, it is the safe thing.


Nellie said...

Teaching moments - all around us.

Amy @ said...

Oh, I still feel guilty about something I did when I was 3 years old. It's good to form that conscience early and strong, I say.

Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

Wow! It's amazing what sticks with our kids. You're doing a great job with her!

Jennifer Wolfe said...

It's important to teach them what's right, even when it's hard to do. Good job, mom!

jodifur said...

I always tell my son that not telling the truth will get him into more trouble then telling the truth.


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