Kid1 is grounded. In consideration of his privacy I will spare the details. Suffice to say I was cupping his face, his chin barely upturned as he’s almost eye to eye with me. I asked him a question. His answer made my antenna zing. I asked if he was sure. I got a slightly different answer. We didn’t care about what he wanted to keep from us (once we found out what it was). We cared that he lied about it when directly asked.
Things are pretty laid back in our world. We banter and joke more than we lecture and nag. The biggest trouble our kids have gotten into thus far in their young lives has been tied to taking the easy way out. Like the time we discovered a kid was spitting their vitamins out when they left the table (behind their dresser). I believe it is universal human nature to want to avoid difficult conversations, and I get why he lied. We would have admonished and probed if he’d copped to why he had a split lip in the first place. He was embarrassed and just wanted everything to go away.
As the story unfolded, we listened and supported. Initially I ranted about him lying, but it was easy to tell he made good choices in the situation up to that point. Then we had to decide on the way forward. He’s 11. He is half little kid and half emerging tween. He is sensitive and sweet and competitive and hard on himself. The next few years are pivotal for communication and keeping things on the rails.
So we offered him a “Get out of mad free” card. I could see the idea hit home with him as I explained it. The next time something happens that we should know about that might make us “actively parent,” he can play the card. When he does, we promise to recognize the conversation is about something he needs to tell us that isn’t easy.
As things wrapped up, Kid1 thanked us and said he felt better. I told him I get it. I said things can happen sometimes that make us feel like a shaken can of pop. Pressure and worry build up and it’s hard to know which way to turn. Opening the can can be such a relief. He looked at me for a second, grinned and asked “but doesn’t the can spray everywhere and make a mess?”
“Sure does,” I replied. “But that mess equals the conversation we just had.” He didn’t hesitate before saying he thought it was worth it.