09 August 2014

The Lie

Parenting is Heart Work

It was bound to happen at some point, right? None of our kids are perfect or beyond correction.  And all of them watch our behaviors and we are not perfect.  I shouldn't have been surprised, but yesterday while giving Micah's his nightly bath in our Master Bathroom, Julia came in, lip quivering, and ready to confess.

I'm not one of those people who enjoy drawn out confessions, and I hated seeing her in such agony, but I knew this was going to be one of our "defining mother/daughter moments."  Isn't that weird that I kind of knew that before it even happened?  Call it mommy tuition I guess.

So the conversation went something like this:

"Mommy, (I feel like it's always "Mommy" during humble moments) I have to tell you something...because it's always (lip quivering, hands shaking) good to tell the truth."  very long pause, starting to cry.

"What Julia?  What is it?  Just tell me."  She was all the way at the door and I was all the way at the tub so I put my arm out so I could draw her close.

"Remember the time you said you could smell nail polish in my room?  Well I lied about not using it...and I used it (totally losing it now)....

"Julia, what did you paint?!" panic was in my voice because in less than two weeks we leave this home and I was starting to freak out about nail polish on the wood floor or walls...

"My American Girl Doll!!!!" (bucket of tears)

Ok, so this was my moment to either flip out, discipline her, ground her, start lecturing about honesty, and the fact that American Girl dolls are a million dollars and not to be ruined with scissors, water, or nail polish impulses!

But for some reason, I didn't.  (This was God.  No pats on the back here)  I was actually so relieved it wasn't on the house or her furniture.  I just hugged her and said how proud of her I was that she told me the truth.  And then I said, go bring me and show me the doll.

So as she left the bathroom and as I let the water out of the tub and finished up Micah's bath I knew I wasn't going to punish her.  I knew that in my heart of hearts she was dreadfully sorry, and that it was probably torture for her (a first born) to admit such a failure.  Especially when American Girl Dolls are our thing and we really try to take extra special care of all of them.  And I tell her all the time if she doesn't take care of the ones she has she will not be getting a new one at Christmas or for her birthday.

Of all the dolls she painted the nails on, it was her Bitty Baby...the one Grandma Judy got her.  And actually she did an amazing job!!! I even told her that.  

"Julia, you were so neat.  Please don't ever do this again, but you actually did a great job on her."

"I just wanted her to have the same nails as me.  I won't mom."

So for the rest of the night this girl was so proud of herself for telling me the truth.  During her bath time she just kept talking about it.

"Mom, I was just going to tell Dad, so I wouldn't have to tell you, but I knew that you are in charge of my American Girl Dolls (where did she get that from?) and that God really wanted me to tell you the truth..." and on and on she went.  I could tell it was like a turning point for her.

After bath time she even told Mark the whole story.  Then she asked Mark, did you ever lie to mom before mark?

"Nope, I just tell her the truth." He stated very matter-of-factly and proudly.

"Yea, you do tell the truth." Julia said (almost in a sad way, like, man, why can't I be more like that).

When John came home, and she told him, his reaction was very different than mine (we hadn't discussed it and I think he was shocked and appalled that she would "ruin" her doll...although he didn't see how good she did it).  He gave her a bit of a lecture and she goes...

"Dad! You weren't even proud of me that I told the truth!  You weren't supposed to be mad!"  To which I totally stayed out of that one because I felt like those two needed to talk it out.  John just told her that he was sad she lied to me.  I could tell she felt really bad about it still.   But I thought it was good for her to see the different reactions, because when we do something wrong it affects all different people in different ways.  And that's a good lesson for her to learn too.

Our first American Girl tea party in NYC (I was pregnant with Micah)
I have always wanted to be a safe person for Julia to come to.  Sometimes I feel like I am too hard on her because she's the oldest, because she is a girl, because of my pride, because I want her to be the best she can be...and tonight I just let her feel comfortable to be vulnerable and mess up and I just let her know it was okay and that i still loved her.  After all, it was just a doll, (even though it was an expensive one) and yes, she did lie about the nail polish smell but the fact that she confessed, knew it was wrong, felt God tugging at her heart to apologize and did, I really felt that it was a great moment for us.  I hope she always feels she can come to me with her failures and know that I will love her no matter what.  

So, that was our evening.  That was our "mother/daughter defining moment"...I hope I did okay.

That's the difficult part of parenting, you know?  You wonder, which battles should be fought?  Which talks should be had, and when is the right moment.  To me, this just felt right.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

I could see how relieved she was to get the truth out.  And it felt good to watch her be so grown up and own her mistake.

Julia's 5th birthday in NYC at American Girl Doll


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