09 May 2014

I used to yell a lot.

For one thing, I used to be more angry.

Then there was the toddler factor. Those tiny people don't listen to reason! Sometimes I just couldn't take it anymore and I resorted to my own primitive form of communication.

These days, I'm more even-tempered, and my tiny people are mid-sized and capable of logic, at least some of the time.

But the one thing that will push me over the edge EVERY TIME is lying. As I've said to Maddie and Riley countless times, tell me the truth, even a hard truth, and we can work on resolving the problem, whatever it may be. But lie to me, and then what can we do? Lies hide the real problem, and keep us from finding a solution.

Riley has been the one who experiments more with lying, but tonight it was Maddie who looked me right in the eyes and denied something I knew she'd done. I know They—you know, the capital-T They—say that at this age, it's best not to make a big deal of a lie, just calmly acknowledge that you know that the child has been dishonest, ask for honesty next time, and move on. I'm sure that's great advice, and I try to follow it.

But tonight? Tonight this is what I did: LOST MY SHIT.

I was so bothered by Maddie's insistence that she was telling me the truth, even when I knew she wasn't. It was so . . . defiant. And disrespectful. And BRAZEN. And she was so good at it! The preview of coming attractions was too much to bear. I'm so gullible and she's already so smooth. I can see what's coming in the years ahead, and my fear got the better of me and I yelled like I haven't yelled in a long, long time.

In the end, she came clean and I apologized and everything is OK. Now she's exhausted and I'm exhausted and I feel so bad about the example I set. I've apologized to her and we're fine, but it hurts.

A friend posted on Facebook today that she'd watched the movie August, Osage County, and that she was still trying to sort out how she felt about the film. I saw it about a month ago, and it was tough. Humans can be so cruel to themselves, and so cruel to each other. As I was yelling and as Maddie was yelling back, and as we slammed doors and blustered about and cried, I thought about that cruelty and about what motivates it, what we learn from it, why there are times you know you're engaged it it and just can't stop.

I hope I can learn something from this. I hope Maddie can, too. And I hope we can help each other in that process. I ordered for us a book to read together, one that a friend and her daughter enthusiastically recommended, and it will arrive tomorrow. May it be helpful to both of us.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

A child lies because he/she is afraid. At least initially. Later it may become a habit. Ask yourself why Maddie lied to you. Maybe ask Maddie why she lied. Please don't feel I'm criticizing your parenting because I'm not, you're a thoughtful, caring parent. Certain children may be more prone to lying but I believe it's still about whether they feel they are trusted and whether they feel they can trust you.

Tertia said...

A child lies because it is easier than telling the truth. All kids lie.

I hate it too. I have the same reaction as you.

Don't be too hard on yourself. No one is perfect. Not us, or our kids

Tertia xxx

PS to 'anonymous' above, I felt your comment was at best extremely unhelpful and at worse really judgmental. Children lie because that is what they do not because they are afraid or fell they aren't trusted.

Unknown said...

Mostly commenting to say how nice it is to read another post from you- I've missed your writing!! I'll also just add that lying is the behavior i loathe the most as well. For me, it's so difficult to not take personally- "how could my baby lie to ME? He's my son, I'm his mother! WE are special, I am special". It's just where I go. And it brings up concerns for the future- the teen years, drugs, drinking, sex, etc. If we're lying now.....Don't mean to be a downer, just expressing how very much I relate to this post. Thank you for writing it!

Snickollet said...

Unknown: Oh, I'm so with you re: how this makes me worry about the teen years! Ack! [deep breaths, deep breaths] And that relates to what Anon said in the first comment about trust. I certainly want Maddie and Riley to feel that they can trust me and that I will support them if they tell the truth, and I think they do. But to Tertia's point, lying does seem like the easy way out to kids. It's hard to do the right thing, and hard to teach kids to make the right, not the easy, choice.

Anonymous said...

Hello Snickollet, This is anon of the above comment. I hope you didn't feel my comment was judgmental because that is exactly what I didn't want it to be. I also meant to leave my name but forgot to. It's Becky. I'm a 50 something Mom with 3 grown young adult kids who are all doing well. My hope is that, having been there "in the trenches" I might have some perspective to offer that could be helpful. You are laying the foundation now for how the teen years will go. To the degree that you can have a respectful, open relationship with your kids now, you'll find the teen years, while challenging, won't be nearly as bad as you fear. I believe the bottom line is: do your kids know you are on their side. If they do there will be bumps but you'll come through with a good relationship in tact. I've read your blog for some time (when you write!) and as I said before, I think you are an awesome parent because you obviously care and think deeply about how to parent well and effectively.

Anonymous said...

The example you set was that lying is a very, very bad thing and reactions to it will range from calm remonstrances that this isn't acceptable to a more drastic situation in which people get really angry with you and show it. And you know what, that is NOT a bad example to set because when adults lie, say in relationships or on the job the reaction will not always be calm and controlled and solved with a time out. Not to be sarcastic, but it's not like you beat her bloody or did something else completely out of proportion to her offense. She lied, you knew she was lying, you yelled at her. I've been reading your blog for years, and while I realize I'm not there, you often seem to be much too hard on yourself when you lose your shit, as you say. Those of us who grew up in homes with a parent who had substance abuse issues often conflate our own yelling with how we were yelled at, and truly, it's not the same thing.

Little Bird said...

Highly recommend the American Girl series from which that book comes. Not sure if there is anything as good out there for boys..... Luckily(?) my son has made it to age 19 without needing such a book. My daughter, at age 14, needs THEM ALL!

Snickollet said...

Anon @ 16:36: You are so right that I'm too hard on myself about losing my shit. I'm too hard on myself about pretty much *everything*--lifelong habit, I'm afraid. Thank you for reminding me of that. The process of blogging helps me work through it, and readers like you gently calling me out on it helps, too.

Sounds like you know what it's like to get really, truly yelled at or even worse; wishing peace for you today.

Mizasiwa said...

Welcome 'back' as almost everyone has said I. Missed your 'voice' as. You. Have always been one. Of my very favourite bloggers! The similar ages of our children and the uncanny way they go through the exact same 'stages' with similar reactions from me too. I also have that 'is this a forrunner tunnel vision of the teen years?' Thing - its a difficult situation stage etc etc - and I'm glad we sometimes get to hear of othe mothers who can admit this so we don't all feel so lost - so thanks again for these latest posts (I missed you)