The Kaiser has been fibbing. No major lies (yet), but it’s a new hurdle for me. At school on Thursday he found a piece of dull, colored glass on the playground. The Kaiser pocketed this treasure, but his pals narqed on him and his pre-school teacher confronted him about it. He lied, straight-faced, telling her that he did know this colored glass of which she was speaking. Eventually the truth came out, he handed over the contraband and spent a few minutes in time-out.
Yesterday the kid swung his leg at the dog in a fit of don’t-take-my-toy-and-chew-it rage. I caught him out of the corner of my eye.
“Did you just… kick the dog, man?” I ask.
“Nooooooo.” He chews his bottom lip.
“I saw you,” I say. “Go sit on your bed.”
He went. We talked about it. He sorta understood, although he thought the reason he was in time-out was because he tried to kick the dog across the room. Everyone lies. How do you explain integrity to a kid? How do I make him understand that, even when it means you’re going to be in trouble, the truth is better? I mean, he already knows the subtle lies we use to save peoples’ feelings from being hurt (you know, like not pointing out that someone is fat even though said person is, in fact, reaaaaally fat).
So basically, what I’m telling him is that it’s good and right to save someone else’s feelings by lying, but that it’s not ok to save your own ass by lying. Yes.
How do you convince a child that it’s better to tell the truth and hope for the best than lie your FACE off and pray you don’t get caught? I don’t know. Concepts about doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing are difficult for anyone to understand. It’s an ethical dilemma. How would people behave if they thought they wouldn’t be caught? How would you behave if you were certain no one would find out your actions?