Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sometimes I feel that I parent completely in reaction to the way that I was raised.

So in talking with my neighbor, I come to find out that the toy that Dalton had brought home from her house the other day was not given to him, like he told me it was. And that when he brought it back over to her home later and she asked him about it, he had lied and told her that I'd bought it for him. I can't even remember what the stupid toy was. Some little LEGO ball thing, with diamonds inside. Regardless...theft and lies. Great. Have I created a super villain? If so, the apple would not have fallen far from the tree.

Let's go back to MY second grade class, at Windsor Elementary. My teacher's name was Ms. Naugle, and I loved her. She must have loved her class, because she had giant bins of candy for us, in her class room, behind her desk, and at arm's reach. My arms, that is. You see, every day (I can't remember when the villainous plot began) I would tell Ms. Naugle that I needed to go to the bathroom, during recess. Then I would sneak in to our classroom, unscrew the lid to one of the containers, and help myself to her candy. I can't remember the specifics. I think that there may have been Smarties. Regardless, I was a thief. And I got away with this for a while. Again, I am not sure how long, but I remember that I had it down to a bit of an art. So, one day, I am leaving her classroom, after having committed my crime, and I am stopped at the door by none other than Ms. Naugle herself. She accused. I denied. I am sure that I cried, in part out of fear, and in part out of the belief that it makes you more believable. She wasn't buying it. She asked me where I got the candy. And as bold as day, I told her that my dad owned a candy store. Isn't that amazing. I didn't even flinch. The lie rolled right off my tongue as easy as could be. "OK, let's go call your dad and see if that is true." And that is when I knew I was screwed. I know that I ponied up the candy, and confessed. I don't remember any other details, which tells me that she must have thought that my shame was punishment enough, and not flogged me in front of the entire class, when they got in from recess. I wish that I did remember the end. So, there you go. It must be genetic. Dalton is predisposed to be a crook, and a liar. For me, it didn't end there. We moved to North Carolina when I was in the second grade and the little white lies turned to whoppers. I remember it was especially bad around some family friends, named the Kelsey's. Looking back at my little gangly seven-year-old-self, I can see the underlying cause: complete and udder inferiority. The Kelsey's were a family of four or five girls, each one more beautiful and feminine than the next. Their dad was my dad's boss. We lived in the same housing community, with the homes being very similar. Only difference between theirs and mine, theirs was bigger and better in every way. Lane was my age. Her little sister was my sister's age. But then she had a glamorous and mature (5th grade) sister named Jen and another little sister. Lane's hair was blond, mine was what is referred to as "dishwater blond" meaning I at one time possessed Lane's hair color, but at some point it morphed in to the color of dust bunnies, and "dishwater" I suppose. I am sure that in my mind there were millions of other reasons that I coveted her, imagined or real. It made me insane. I could not stop lying. Any doll she had, I had two of them. Any thing she wanted, I already owned. It got to the point, where she and her sisters would just look at me and nod, knowing full-well that I was well,..full of it. One day it had been about a ring that I claimed to own. I am sure a better version of whatever one Lane owned. That night I sat on my dad's lap in our rocker, and he asked me (maybe wondering if he should be speed dialing a psychotherapist) "Ashley do you believe that you have that ring?" IE: "Are you insane? Do you see fairies, elves, and pink elephants?" "No", I sheepishly replied. I was so ashamed. "Then why did you say that you have it?" He truly could not understand it. It was behavior that was completely foreign to my dad. In all my life I can not remember him ever telling a lie. He was honest. And here I was, his loony daughter, lying about everything, and nothing. That's the crazy part. It got to the point, that I would be lying for no reason at all. If I had Cheerios for breakfast, I'd say I'd eaten Fruit Loops. If I had a pink night gown, I'd claim it was purple. Was it habit? Was it power? Was it an alien-being that had taken over my body? I don't know. I don't remember ever being confronted about it again. I am sure that my parents knew I was still telling whoppers. But why they never dealt with it again, I don't know. Maybe they hoped I'd grow out of it on my own, especially since we were moving back to Utah, and I wouldn't be around the Kelsey's ever again. My parents were about to separate and then divorce. Maybe it was the guilt of what they knew was on the horizon, and the fear that my lies were a cover for the insecurity I felt at home. Regardless, it was a curse. I had developed this habit that stayed with me until adulthood. I am embarrassed to admit that I lied to Gavin when he first asked me about my age. I couldn't tell him I was 18. That sounds SO immature. 19 sounds SO much older. Ridiculous. I think that I was awakened to the gravity of my character flaw, when I read a scripture about Satan being the father of all lies. I began to internalize, and started 0n the path to telling the truth.

Back to today. So, when Dalton is caught, he is beside himself. Completely embarrassed. I know the feelings. I remember them well. I feel bad for him, but I am not going to sugar-coat it. The kid knows better than that. Just like I knew better. He throws a fit when Gavin and I tell him that he has to return the toy and apologize. The fit escalates when he finds out that the punishment is no toys or screens for a while. He takes the walk of shame across the street with his dad. Comes home furious. Goes to his room and proceeds to rip his room to smithereens, whilst at the same time yelling every mean thing that comes to mind at the top of his lungs. Gavin passes his room and hears the screams for his desired new parents, and the wish of a speedy death to his current ones. He tells Dalton to be quiet. Some how it gets to the point where he tells Dalton to shut up or he is going to spank him. Dalton now feels like he has not only been completely mortified by his parents, but verbally abused as well. Gavin has NEVER spoken like that before to Dalton. On the other hand, Dalton has never acted like this before. I think everyone was caught off-guard a little. Gavin leaves Dalton's room, and eventually Dalton comes out with his tear-stained face, apologizing to everyone. "Everyone makes mistakes. We still love you." I then tell him the story of ME in the second grade. It seems to help.

I then double his punishment when I see the damage he has done to his room. Trophies broken, pictures ripped, table turned over. I had given him guidelines. "You can punch your pillows or your couch. You can throw your clothes. You can rip paper." That was it. Oi vey.

The night ended OK. We watched a Tivoed episode of Sesame Street after dinner. Of course, not before Shelby picked a bunch of leaves off the new shrubs in the front, and the baby developed a diaper rash that looks like leprosy. And the day started out so nice; Gavin and I on the slopes at Alta all morning and afternoon, sharing the best chili cheese fries and Chai on the planet, whilst surrounded by 48 inches of new powder and blue skies...

I will have to write about that another time. In the meantime, I get to psychoanalyze myself and my parenting, trying to figure out how much blame to heap upon myself, and how to get my son to love the truth, no matter how boring and lame it may be, in comparison to what the neighbor kid across the street has.

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