Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Art of Accepting the Truth

Mistakes, just a part of the ordinary existence. They happen all the time. Some are bigger than others and some are little. The idea that perfection is the only way to survive in this world is a fallacy that society has bought hook, line, and sinker. Are we really never supposed to screw up? We grow up believing that being flawless is the ideal. Then we find ourselves being dishonest just to keep the fallacy alive.

It all starts when we are children. A child thinks if I make a mistake my parents will be mad, so I am going to lie to get myself out of it. The only way children know to tell the truth is by it being taught. The natural instinct is to lie.

Recently, my middle daughter E, a second grader, was caught stealing pudding from the school cafeteria. I knew it, because the principal had caught her and called me. But when I asked her about it, she lied. "I did not take anything!" she said with such conviction. It seemed so easy to believe her. So I posed the question another way, "if you did steal something, I promise not to get mad at you but I need to know the truth so we can work it out". So after many minutes, which seemed like an eternity, she lied a few more times and then finally, the truth came out. "I did steal pudding, but only on the days there was chocolate!" As if the idea she would steal vanilla was so far beneath her. This made me laugh but I had to conceal it. Really she just wanted me to know it was not an everyday occurrence. I never figured out for sure how many times this had happened but it was too many. "Why would you do that, we have enough money to pay for the pudding, why didn't you ask me?" She then tells me that I have made it very clear to her that she is only to get the $3 lunch with no extras, so she would just take it and then no none would ever now. If no one knew then it was okay, right?

Had this moment never happened I would have never known and she would have gotten exactly what she wanted without ever having to deal with the consequences or without having to tell me that she really wanted chocolate pudding. This was clearly something important to her. Teaching her to ask for something reasonably was not her natural instinct; her instinct was to lie about it. She learned to express her needs and confess her mistakes without "getting in trouble". It was a lesson in patience for me. I had to stick to my guns and not get mad, I had to reason with her. In the end, we both learned to trust each other more and that just because no one knows does not make it okay.

In this high speed, you-can-have-it-all world, it is easy to lie in order to stay off the radar. I was always told to learn from others mistakes; never making a mistake is the ideal. But that is a cop out. That is based on the assumption that we can remain flawless. Mistakes are how we grow to be better human beings. Maybe what we should really be teaching is: go ahead make some mistakes,be honest about it, and learn from them. Gaining knowledge from your own mistake is priceless. Do not be afraid to admit it everyone you love. In the end you might just find you live a better life for it.


  1. Hi, Beautiful Joely! Literally stumbled across this after reading your comment on Miss Sherri's blog. I loved your anecdote! What a great teachable moment...I'm tempted by the chocolate pudding, too!!

  2. Love your blog - love this community of sharing, venting, supporting - so cool. Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing....

  3. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  4. Joely, you have always given me the best advice when needed. Be it when I really shouldn't be dating someone OR just overall being honest with myself. I think that is one of the many lessons in life you helped me realize, and this blog pretty much says it.

    This is great! And made me giggle. Keep it up! I sort of want to start a blog now.. :)

  5. OK - just have to tell you - we were cracking up over this story (the actual stealing of the pudding part), trying to figure out when / what Milo will do when he is responsible for himself somewhat. You handled the "issue" very well, btw... Taking notes for later here on my end...