When you lay down with dogs you are likely to get fleas. That is what the police officer told my little, sweet, precious baby Andy when he and a group of boys ( boys that I formerly thought of as funny, sweet and nice but now see clearly as the hooligans and future delinquents that they undoubtedly are) were caught smoking cigarettes across the street from the school recently.
Andy said that he was not smoking. Before I left work for home, after Mike had called me to tell me about the Great Smoke Out, I told my friend that Andy would say that he was with the boys, but was not smoking. While I was at work I could see very clearly that he would tell me that and that it would most likely be a lie. What I did not tell my friend was that I would believe Andy to the depths of my heart.
I always believe my children. Even when it is painfully obvious that they are lying. Even if they immediately contradict themselves. I can’t help it. When I see their faces I believe them. I think that they are able to hypnotize me.
This is not the first smoking incident. One time some years ago, I went upstairs to find the boys bedroom filled with cigarette smoke. Andy and the neighbor boy (the same neighbor boy he was with this time, by the way) were standing side by side in the middle of the room, facing the door, their eyes huge and startled.
"What are you doing in here?" I asked rhetorically.
You know what they said just as I knew what they were going to say before they said it.
But as Andy said, "Nothing," he looked at the toy box.
"No way!" I exclaimed.
Andy nodded. I quickly opened the toy box and found the still smouldering cigarette they had been sharing. But do you know, that for just a split second, a nano-second, when Andy said, "nothing," I kind of relaxed a little. I almost thought, ‘oh good. Because for a moment there, I thought you were smoking and trying to burn the house down.’
For one teensy bit of a second I believed him, even though the room was full of smoke and even though they both looked guilty, were undoubtedly both guilty.
But do not worry. I have successfully defused a potentially dangerous situation. I told my children straight out that I loved them so much and that I always believed everything they told me.
I told them that I had tried to change this about myself, but that I had not been able to. I told them that because they knew that I would swallow any lie they fed me they had a very big responsibility to tell me the truth at all times.
Because I told them this, I can often tell, intellectually, when they are lying because they look so awfully miserable. They look like you would expect children to look when they have not only been doing something they shouldn’t have been, or have not been doing something they should have been, but they also look like children who are lying to their mother.
Which works very nicely for me. I know, suddenly, that they are lying, but I do not let on that I know. They usually come around pretty quickly.
Sometimes I remind myself of old Mr. Sanford in the TV show "Sanford and Son." Remember how he would fake a heart attack when his son fussed at him? Well, I don’t do anything nearly so dramatic. But I can tear up pretty convincingly when I finally come to the realization that I have been hoodwinked. And what can be worse for even a half way decent child than his mother’s tears?
So. Another milestone. My last child, my youngest, got caught doing something bad. This tells me a few things.
It is time to hope that he has grown a little good sense along with those great big feet.
It is time to admit that he is not a baby anymore.
It also means that he is just that much closer to growing all the way up. Up and out. I hate that idea.