In case you haven’t figured this out for yourself, I have stubborn kids. Crazy stubborn kids. And one of them tends to fall on the extreme side of the bossy scale as well (payback, my mom claims, from when I was his age). Pit stubborn against bossy and nobody wins. Lots of screaming. Crying. Teasing. You get the point.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys and their strong will, but these personality traits mean I find myself picking my battles (and theirs). A lot. If the average person faces 10 battles a day, our family reaches that point before everyone is out of bed.
So lately, I’ve been trying to put out fires by letting Big in on my secret. Sometimes I just agree with Little—even when he’s wrong—because it’s not worth a fight. (Of course I do this with Big too, but he hasn’t figured that out yet.) In order to agree with someone who’s wrong, you often have to tell an itty-bitty white lie or give your opponent the “W” in a power struggle. (Yes, I watch too many sports shows with Lenny.)
It goes something like this…
Little: “This straw is orange!” Well, it’s quite obviously green, but ok.
Me: “Oh really?”
Little: “YES! It. Is. Orange!” Does it matter if it’s orange or green? Not to me.
Me: “Yep, that’s great.”
Big: “NO. It’s. Not! Mommy, you know it’s green.”
Me: (whispering) “I know, but it’s not really important, so we’ll just let him think he’s right, ok?”
Big: (suddenly feeling like he’s in on a scheme) “Yeah, Little. It is orange. You’re right!”
Little: (with a satisfied grin) “I’m right!”
Or like this…
Little: “We see a big black dog at the park today, Mommy!”
Big: “No we didn’t!”
Little: “Yes we did!”
Me: “Big, this is Little’s turn to tell me his story. It’s what he remembers from his day out. I’d love to hear what you saw next.”
It all seemed harmless until I noticed Big leading the charge. Then it went a little something like this…
Little: (running in the house crying) “I hurt my elbow. Look, there is a bruise.” (Yes, he speaks like Lenny types, with no contractions.)
Big: (winking at me) “Let’s see. Oh yeah, I see the bruise.” (whispering aside) “There’s no bruise, I’m just telling him there is.”
Hmm. I’m not sure what to think about that response. It’s empathetic. I guess. But it’s dishonest. So where’s the line? So far the instances I’ve seen aren’t anything I’m too concerned about. But now that Big knows, not only what a white lie is, but that I use them on a daily basis, what’s to stop him from adopting my (perhaps questionable) approach? At least I only use my superpower for peace and goodwill (well, that’s how I rationalize it). Hopefully he will too.
Do you tell your kids white lies? (Heck, practically every holiday comes with one.) Have they caught on? Do they tell some of their own?
Photo from Flickr by Cinderellas-Grama.