JJ came wandering into the kitchen tonight, looked me square in the face and said “Mom, I need to tell you that I lied.”
Well alrighty, then.
“What did you lie about?”
“Remember last week when I told you that I accidentally knocked the jar of gumballs off my desk and it broke? Well, it wasn’t an accident. I kinda’ hit it with a baseball bat because I was having trouble getting the lid open.”
Would’ve loved to see the plans he discarded, thinking the baseball bat was the better option….
I appreciated his belated honesty (and was, quite frankly, amused at his ingenuity) and decided that for once in my life I wasn’t going to get wrapped around the axle and make him sit through a fifteen minute speech that would somehow mention “jail” one or twenty times because it was enough that he discovered that he couldn’t eat gumballs laced with shards of glass and I figured the lesson was learned.
So I said, “Thanks for your honesty, honey. It’s always better to tell the truth. And next time, just ask me to help you open it. Okay? Thanks. ”
I went about my business cleaning the kitchen and noticed that Tommy, seated at the bar, was acting quieter than normal. He was twisting side to side on the bar stool, a very worried look on his face. Then his eyes started filling with tears and then he said, “I can’t take it any more. I have to tell you!”
I couldn’t imagine what he had to confess but judging by the look on his face I could tell that it was a Very Big Deal so I patted him on the back and told him that he could tell me whatever it was.
And I wasn’t quite prepared for what came out of his mouth.
“I KILLED SIMBA!” he wailed.
Wha??? Our cat that died years ago?
“Honey, you didn’t kill Simba. He died of cancer.”
“I GAVE HIM THE CANCER!” he said, crying hysterically.
“How did you give him cancer?”
“I didn’t want to tell you because I was sure that you’d be so mad at me. He was in the kitchen and I was playing with a bottle of glass cleaner and I thought it would be funny if I tried to spray him and I just meant to scare him but some accidentally got in his face and that’s why he died.”
It took me twenty minutes to reassure him that Windex doesn’t give you cancer and bless his heart, he was a wreck. “Mom, I was worried about keeping that a secret but I didn’t tell you because I thought you would be angry. I wasn’t going to tell you about it until I went to college.”
I can’t imagine the burden this child has carried with him for so long. And as I mull over the events of the evening, I’ve wondered how much I contributed to the situation. How many times have I overreacted to their mistakes? How many times have I yelled first, asked questions second? How have I fostered fear in my kids instead of trust? And how can I fix this going forward?
It looks like the kids aren’t the only ones that learned a lesson today.