Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 was the WORST DAY EVRE. Yes, EVRE. This according to my six year old daughter, who wrote just that on the family calendar hanging on the wall beside our computer. (She did ask me how to spell “worst” but not “ever” so here we are.)
My darling girl had a lovely day at school, which featured a field full of snow to play in both during the school day and after classes let out as well. The kids stay at school longer than usual to play and when we finally got home, my daughter went right back outside to play in the snow with the neighbourhood kids.
It was glorious. She was happy, having a blast, and even wearing most of the winter clothing supplied to her.
At some point she kicked at the front door with her little boot loud enough for me to hear it. I met her soggy little snow-suited body in the garage, where she asked me if she could go to the nearby hill with the kids and a parent to sled.
“Is a parent really going?” I asked. “Which one?”
My daughter assured me that yes, a parent was going, and she named the parent so I sent her on her way.
Unbeknownst to her, however I stood in the garage listening to the kids chat before they left for the hill.
“I can go,” my daughter said. “I told her [parent’s name] was going.”
“No, she’s not going,” replied a child.
“Mine knows so she can watch us from the house,” added another.
And off they went.
Was a parent with them?
Not at all.
Was a parent going to be supervising? Yes. So I let her walk away.
I texted the mom who my child told me was going to be going with them and she confirmed she hadn’t gone but had communicated with the other mom who could see them playing from her house.
They were safe, in a big group, and being monitored by a grown up. Worked for me.
Things turned sour when my child got home, however.
“So…” I asked as I helped her get out of her snow gear. “Which grown up watched you?”
I expected her to tell me a friend’s mom watched out the window or even to say the mom that said she was going didn’t so they went alone. That would have been another conversation but at least she would have been honest. Instead, and to my great horror, my daughter looked me right in the eye and LIED.
She told me the original mom had gone with them. I offered her another chance to tell me the truth and noted that it always ends up being less trouble when you’re honest, a belief I really hold to be true.
AGAIN she lied right to me.
And so I took away an ice skating session with her dad that night. It wasn’t directly related to the crime but it was the only collateral I had at that moment.
I didn’t yell, I didn’t shame, I just took away the thing she’d been looking forward to all week.
When you lie, there are quite often consequences.
Quite naturally, she was devastated both about missing out on skating that night, but even more so about being caught in a lie, which, while it broke my heart, I was happy to see because it reaffirmed to me that she knew right from wrong.
She cried for at least an hour. She was even more upset and embarrassed at dinner when I talked about what had happened and asked her to tell her dad why they couldn’t go skating. She didn’t speak at all.
I said we’d simply have to fill our unexpected free time doing something else and suggested perhaps getting a box of Christmas decorations out and putting some things up around the house.
I went on to explain that decorating for the holidays was a happy thing and that perhaps she needed to take a minute to compose herself before we began?
She declined. She hadn’t said two words since her dad got home from work.
She took a piece of paper and wrote down: “I am happy”.
Then she pointed at her sentence and walked away. I said, “I’m not so sure you are happy, sweetheart. Why don’t you just take a few minutes to…”
“I LITERALLY SAID I WAS HAPPY” she yelled while bursting into tears.
It was all we could do not to laugh at our poor suffering child, who unknowingly had just been hilarious.
I knew she felt that we were in this together when I was the one she came to for comfort even after I’d laid down the law. It wasn’t me versus her, it was us against the problem. Being a parent is hard. I hope I did the right thing in being calm but enforcing a reasonable consequence.
We ended up having a lovely night full of laughter and Christmas cheer. And don’t feel bad for my daughter. She ended up going skating with her dad a few days later. I’m hoping that incident is enough to remind her over and over again that being honest in the first place always leads to the least amount of trouble.