This morning went how most go. Around 7:30 I started cleaning up from breakfast and making my daughter’s lunch, sending her upstairs to get dressed and brush her teeth. Unfortunately it also went how the last several have gone. Upon returning downstairs in an outfit completely different than the one agreed upon the night before I again asked her about that teeth cleansing and she once again answered in the affirmative. After I performed a newly necessary breath check, she headed back upstairs to actually brush her teeth.
This morning was slightly different, however. After three straight days of this charade, today I got angry.
About six months ago I was sitting at a traffic light and took a minute to look at a notification on my phone while waiting. A town police officer pulled up next to me, rolled down his window and yelled at me for it. I had already put the phone back down, held up my hands in what I thought was a gesture meant to convey that I was done, and carried on my way when the light turned green. Apparently he interpreted these hand signals differently, pulling me over and subjecting me to what might have been one of the most severe beratements I’ve ever suffered through, at one point causing me to have concerns about a possible imminent stroke.
He wasn’t mad because I was looking at my phone. He was furious because he thought that I had lied to him.
What is it about being lied to that causes such a visceral reaction? I’m going to assume that this particular officer had something else going on in his life that morning and that I was the unfortunate recipient of anger that was really directed elsewhere, but the truth is that there really isn’t much that is as painful or disappointing as the knowledge that you have been intentionally told untruths.
It’s silly really. We all do it, probably more than we even realize. Sometimes it’s even for noble reasons, the sparing of somebody’s feelings and such. Other times it’s to avoid confrontation or consequences. Sometimes it just seems easier. How many times have you told somebody the truth about something and then actually wished you hadn’t? How many times have you found out the truth about something and then wished you hadn’t?
I have no idea why my daughter hasn’t been brushing her teeth. It only takes a minute, she likes the flavor of toothpaste we have and her Avengers electric brush enables her to reach areas of the bathroom that she wouldn’t be able to spray toothpaste all over otherwise. I’m guessing that she just gets excited about whatever ensemble she’s put together to wear and can’t wait to come down and show me, forgetting the other half of her assignment.
I do know that I was pretty mad, angrier than I should have been to be honest. I didn’t threaten to wash her mouth out with soap, something that I once did when her older sister was caught lying too many times for my patience, but I was close.
After school we talked about why daddy lost his shit this morning. About how it makes a person feel when they can’t believe what they are being told, about how fragile trust can be and how much harder it is to re-gain than to lose. I gave her the Mark Twain quote about how “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything” and then spent twenty minutes explaining who Mark Twain was and why she should listen to what he had to say.
I also told her that her nose would grow, her pants would catch fire, and that I’d be keeping a closer eye on her for the next few days. The most nefarious thing about lying is how easy it is, how quickly it can become habit.