I teach Jack’s first-grade Sunday school class. It’s something I’ve done for one kid or the other since Caroline was in first grade. It’s not always a piece of cake, but I can usually count on my own kids to be well behaved and not veer off on a weird tangent. (Note that I said "usually.")
Yesterday I was talking to the kids about the importance of telling the truth. I was explaining that, if they don’t tell the truth about little things, no one will trust them about the big things. I used a (very realistic) example of me asking Caroline if she’s made her bed. Sometimes she says yes, whether or not it’s been done.
Jack raised his hand.
"Well, she lies because if she says she hasn’t made her bed, you’ll say she doesn’t have any more time and she’s had all morning and you’ll ask her why she moves like molasses."
Me: "Right, but she’s telling a lie. That’s wrong."
Jack: "No, actually, that’s right, because then she goes to school and you make the bed for her and you’ve forgotten about it by the time you pick her up and nobody yells at anyone else."
Me: "Okay, well, a) I don’t forget about it, I just choose a different battle at that time; and b) lying is wrong. Period. Let’s move on."
Jack raised his hand again.
Me, skeptical: "Really? I don’t think you do. What do you lie about?"
Jack: "Making my bed."
Me: "No, when you say you’ve made it, you’ve made it."
Fifteen little heads were snapping back and forth like they were watching a ping-pong match.
Jack: "No, it’s sometimes a lie. That’s the main thing I lie about. Making my bed."
Me: "But you don’t lie about that. I physically SEE that you make your bed every day."
Jack looked disappointed.
Me: "You want to know what you do lie about?"
He nodded, excited.
Me: "You lie about LYING. You’re telling a lie right now, when you say that you lie."
Jack, triumphantly: "See? I told you I lie, too."
Me: "You’re kidding me with this, right?"
Jack, pleased: "Nope."
Sometimes I think I’d pay a million dollars for normal siblings who hate each other. Instead, I’m stuck with this sordid solidarity.