Monday, July 12, 2010

Lessons Learned Cleaning the Toilet

Every kid does it.  They make a dumb choice, realize just how stupid it was and how likely they will be getting into trouble, and then they come and tell a lie that one of their siblings did it.  Usually, it’s the younger sibling who takes the blame.  Well, we’ve dealt with this problem on a grand scale twice, now.  Here’s how we handled it this time, as seasoned parents.

“Mom, little sister put silly putty on the remote control and it won’t come off.”

“Really?  That’s odd, seeing how she’s in bed taking a nap.”

“No, she did it.  She snuck down here and picked up the silly putty and did it.”

“I don’t think so.  I was sitting at the top of the stairs working on the computer.”

“She must have done it yesterday.”

“Nope.  I picked that same silly putty up off the carpet right before nap time.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“I don’t think you are.  You know, lies just get you into more trouble.  Whoever put the silly putty on the remote didn’t know it would stick and never want to come off the buttons.  I' don’t get upset at kids who do something like that.  We would just spend some time cleaning the remote.  I do get upset at kids who lie to me.  Lies make me sad because they mess up the trust.  When you lie to me, I don’t know if you are telling the truth next time.  Lies are ugly.  What really happened?”

“I lied to you.  She didn’t do it.  I did it.  I didn’t know it would do that.”

“I’m glad you told the truth.  Your little sister would have been so sad if she got into trouble for something she didn’t do.  What do you think your punishment should be?”

“I could have to clean my room.”

“That’s already your job.”


“I want you to remember how ugly lies are.  I think you are going to clean the toilet, so you can see something that looks as dirty and ugly as lies do.  It will help you remember.”



So, it wasn’t quite that simple and it never is.  Still, I have a clean toilet and my child has a clear picture of the ugliness of lies.  He also has a new skill, toilet cleaning.  Win, win, I say.  We’ll have to reinforce the lesson over time, but it will likely be a simple reminder next time of a dirty toilet.  It’s so important to teach kids honesty and the effect lies have on relationships.  I’m hoping this lesson will be well remembered.

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