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You thought I was lying didn’t you Daddy!

September 28, 2010

One of the wonders of being the parent of a young child, is observing the way they make statements of fact with no ulterior judgemental motives at all.

My latest experience of this was when I arrived home from work last week, just in time to put the daughter to bed. She was upstairs at the time and came rushing down to greet me (always a pleasure). With formalities and welcomes done, it was time to take her back upstairs for the bedtime routine.

“Brush your teeth please” is typically the first thing I say when we arrive on the landing.

This time I was met with the response that she had already done her teeth. Naturally I doubted this fact as it is not at all uncommon for her to say she has done something, just to avoid having to do it. Oh how quickly children learn these things!

So I questioned her and she insisted that she had, so I asked for the proof. She proudly showed me her still wet toothbrush with evidence of toothpaste still on it. She had indeed, without any prompting or supervision, been upstairs and brushed her teeth. This is what she was just finishing off when I arrived home.

“You thought I was lying, didn’t you Daddy!” She said as she skipped into her bedroom to choose her story for the evening. It was a statement, not a question. I was stuck by how nonchalantly she had said it, no hint of anger or hurt. Not even an accusation, just a simple observation of a fact. Not lingered on or analysed, just stated and forgotten as life moved on.

She was right too. I did think she was lying and I actively discourage it and she gets told off for it whenever she’s caught out. One thing that I don’t want, is a child that habitually lies just to get out of doing things.

I now felt some shame for having doubted her. Oh the delicate balance one has to tread when bringing up a child. My apology at having doubted and my congratulations for acting on her own seemed week and poor compared to the trust that I should have granted.

I also then considered what the reaction would be should the same scenario occur when my little girl is a teenager. Hopefully I won’t be such a petty parent as to check her teeth cleaning, but there likely will be occasions where I doubt her truthfulness. Will the conversation be the same?

Somehow I doubt it.

I hope that in years to come I can still remember her grace towards me that night and continue return it to her, as she grows into an adult and I do my best to be a fair and trusting parent.

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