Human beings learn to be dishonest at a young age. It isn’t something that happens automatically. Normally, one needs to be exposed to certain conditions and factors in order for it to become a common practice. For example, children may begin to lie and be dishonest when they feel that it will keep them out of trouble. As we get older, our motivation for dishonesty includes a myriad of reasons including, but not limited to sparing someone’s feelings, avoiding negative consequences or gaining personal advantage.
But if we stick to the younger age group, the majority of the time kids will lie to get out of trouble or because it will get them what they want. Something akin to drawing on the walls then saying they didn’t do it, even if you catch them with the marker in their hands. My son Nathan does this a lot, for a number of different things. He usually isn’t trying to be intentionally deceitful; he’s just trying to keep out of trouble. This has caused a bit of a phenomenon where I occasionally have difficulty believing things he tells me.
Nathan is a big fan of ginger ale. He likes it almost as much as he likes those little bottles of water flavouring. But I usually try to limit his consumption of soda, since it isn’t the best thing for a five-year old to drink. In fact, on some of the rare occasions when he gets an upset stomach or falls ill, I offer him a small glass of ginger ale as a means of settling his stomach. He’s caught on to this trend and will often feign an upset stomach in order to have me give him a glass. Sneaky brat…
About a week ago, we were midway through our morning when Nathan approached his mother and told her that his stomach was bothering him and he had thrown up. I can’t remember what I was busy with, but when I came back, my wife updated me on Nathan’s complaint and he confirmed it when he came around the corner. He followed it up by saying he needed ginger ale. Nice try, mini-me! Not on my watch!
I explained to him that the ginger ale was to be for when he was “actually” sick and not because he had a craving for it. He tried selling the fact that he had apparently thrown up and flushed it. Oh, really? That’s a handy coincidence. I shooed him away, as I assumed that this was another one of his attempts at getting something he wanted through dishonesty. He didn’t really argue or contest it and went off on his merry way.
Towards the end of the day, I had spent some time on the backyard and was ready for a hot shower and for my evening to wind down. Nathan was upstairs and had even mentioned a few hours prior that his stomach felt better and he wasn’t sick anymore. I was somewhat impressed by his commitment to the bit. He’s usually pretty good at letting things go when they don’t work in his favour.
I went to the downstairs bathroom and saw something that reminded me of an 80’s horror movie… Dried, crusted vomit with just a hint of red (from his stupid water flavouring) was all over the bathroom door, the toilet seat, the floor, my shower mat and most of the corner of carpet just outside the bathroom door. To add insult to injury, there was about a half dozen washcloths in the laundry hamper after he’d attempted to wipe it up himself. Fuck my life…
I spent the next hour and a half cleaning upchuck off multiple surfaces, made all the worse by the fact that it had dried on. If I had just taken Nathan at his word and checked on his story, it probably would have cleaned up easier. I would have still been pissed at the mess, but at least it would have been easier. It reminded me of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. The only difference is that in Nathan’s case, one never knows if he’s just trying to get his way or if something genuinely happened. Needless to say, I’ll happily accept him crying wolf and check on his story from now on. ☯