Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Inquisition

Sometimes it comes to this.

For the second day this week, I found, uh, urine in the bathroom trash can. Last time, I casually mentioned the hassle and grossness of cleaning it out. This time I asked more pointed questions, and everyone denied involvement. Including Levi, who was the most likely culprit.

My questions became increasingly, uh, pointed, and I became more irritated about the patent dishonesty involved. Eventually Levi and Haley were commanded to sit on the bottom step until someone confessed. Levi cried. Haley fretted that she was being made late for preschool. Levi concluded he should make a false confession to end the torture. I demanded nothing but the honest truth.

Then Logan emerged from his room with big, brown teary eyes and confessed that he had accidentally done it the night before. Fishy. So he got sent to the steps of torture. (By now, I had set Haley free to go to preschool because, really, the simple bathroom logistics of girls pretty much exonerated her.)

I let the boys stew for a while. I called Mark to complain. (He hates those calls. I’m just looking for some sympathy and a sounding board; he ends up wondering if he needs to rush home before my emotional abuse of his children produces long-lasting effects.)

Then I went in, sat on the floor in front of the boys, and began in my dripping-with-doom calm voice, “Levi says he didn’t do it—and I don’t know if I can believe him.” Dramatic pause. “Logan says he did it—and I don’t know if I can believe him.” Four big teary brown eyes stare at me. The boys whimper.

(I like the line "I don't know if I can believe you." It in itself demonstrates the real natural consequences of dishonesty.)

Turns out, my instincts were right: They were both lying. Levi did the deed. Logan staged a false confession out of some warped sense of helpfulness.

We discussed how dishonesty erases trust, and how boys who can’t be trusted don’t get privileges. And how all those sincere, tearful lies make it harder for me to give them what they want in the future.

Then little Levi scrubbed that bathroom, which I think he did not enjoy. And Logan cleaned Jesse’s room, which is a punishment that doesn’t really fit the crime but did compensate me somewhat for having to spend my morning on this stupid inquisition. Both boys were grounded from the computer, as an example of privileges dishonest boys do not receive. So now I’m looking for any tiny instance of the boys keeping their word so I can tell them they’re building trust.

Sheesh! What a waste!

2 comments:

  1. Ugh, Ang. I'm so sorry you started your day in such a cruddy way. I definitely see my future when you talk about Logan. And I am definitely and continually blown away by your fabulous mothering. Your kids are very lucky.

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  2. Ahhh pee in the bathroom (on, under, around...). Miranda flatly refuses to use the "boys" bathroom upstairs. No matter what we've tried they still can't seem to keep the pee off of things. And again Angela, you are an amazing, patient mother!

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