Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Lie, A Cuss Word, and A Prayer

Have you ever looked at your preschooler and wondered where you went wrong? I mean, it seems pretty hard to mess up a child in only four short years, right? I've always hoped to at least wait until my children hit adolescence before feeling like I've blown it, but apparently I'm not going to make it that long.

A couple weeks ago my sweet little four-year-old bounded into the van after an afternoon of preschool, oogling over her treat from the "prize box." I glanced at the gift in her possession and had to admit it was a lot more spectacular than her usual small prizes, and I questioned her about it.

"Wow, that's quite the prize. Why haven't you chosen a big prize like that before?"

"Well, today I got my kindergarten shots at preschool, so I got to choose out of a different prize box."

"What? What do you mean you got your shots at preschool? Who gave them to you?" She had my full attention now. I was pretty sure I didn't remember getting any paper asking my permission to administer shots at preschool.

"Miss Ashley gave them to me," she said matter-of-factly.

"Did the whole class get a shot?" I was starting to panic just a little.

"No. Just me. I was the only one brave enough," she answered as she tore into her prize.

"Well, where did you get a shot?" I tested her.

"Right here in my leg," she said, pointing to her thigh.

"Pull down your pants and let me see," I insisted as I pulled into the garage. This story was sounding more believable all the time.

"No," she giggled, but I insisted and wriggled her pants down around her ankles. Sure enough, there was a little red spot on her thigh, right where she had pointed. Unsure if the spot was really from a needle, I probed further.

"Why don't you have a band aid?"

"Oh, well, it wasn't bleeding very badly, so they just wiped it off with a tissue and told me I'd be fine." And with that, she pulled up her pants and hopped out of the van, leaving me to wonder how I missed the note home about kindergarten shots.

That night as I rehearsed the story to my husband, he instructed me to call the preschool teacher and find out exactly what happened. A bit sheepishly, I made the call. I couldn't imagine the story was true, but then again, my child hadn't skipped a beat in answering all my questions with very believable answers.

I felt even more sheepish a few minutes later when I hung up the phone. Apparently, my daughter had fed the preschool teacher just as big a lie earlier that day so she could choose a big prize from the prize box. She had told her teacher that I had taken her in for shots earlier that day, that her little brother had cried, but she didn't because she was so brave. A series of believable answers to her teacher's questions and a sweet little smile, and she went away with her longed-for prize.

Ugh! I couldn't believe it! I mean, it takes talent to lie that well. She fooled two intelligent adults, answering our interrogations with the ease and confidence of a skilled professional. Great, I thought, I'm raising a pathological liar.

Not two weeks went by and I was called downstairs by my husband, who proceeded to tell me that this same dear child had just said a swear word. Apparently my husband had questioned her over and over about whether she had made a mess at the neighbor's house. She kept telling him "no," but as is his nature, he kept teasing her about it. Finally, to make her point, she said, "He_ _, no!"

Now, I realize in the realm of inappropriate words a child could say, that one may not rank as one of the worst, but this child is only four, and add this little act to her previous offense, and I realized in a hurry I was on the road to raising a juvenile delinquent.

"I just can't trust her anymore," my ten-year-old said in exasperation, throwing her arms in the air. I had to admit, I was feeling the same way. Where had my sweet little angel disappeared to?

Then today, only a few days later, this same child was called on to say family prayer. She offered the familiar thanks for our blessings, asked the Lord to bless a man in our neighborhood who has been sick for a long time, and then in her sweetest voice, she said, "And please bless Mommy that she won't have to have any more surgeries." (I just had my third surgery of the year--this time on my sinuses--and I think my kids are ready for their mom to be back in full swing).

I looked up from bowing my head just in time to catch her sparkling blue eyes look into mine in a knowing way as a humble, sweet grin spread across her little preschool face, and I realized that, juvenile delinquent or not, I love that child more than anything! It wasn't that I had forgotten her past grievances, just that, in the big scheme of things, she was still mine, still wonderful, and I still couldn't imagine life without her.

I think that's the miracle of a family's love for each other. No one knows our weakness better than each other, but at the end of the day, we're still all on the same team and we'd do anything for each other.

So, although I still have nightmares about my four-year-old and what she'll be like as a teenager, I guess for now I'll just be glad her offenses weren't anything too serious. I'm sure in only a few short years, when she's lying about things like boys and curfew, when her knowledge of cuss words extends far past the one she knows right now, and when she's praying her mother will have another surgery so she'll leave her alone for a while, I'll look back on these days and simply smile.

At least for now, I can still take her in my arms, kiss her until she laughs, and give her a lecture she might actually listen to!


Brian and Rebecca Nate said...

You gotta love them right? Regyn is the sweetest thing and maybe just a few of her Uncle Brian's gene's sneaked into her when it comes to lying! Keep going, Lor, you're doing a great job. Love ya!

Dixie said...

How I love reading about our GRAND children!

wenselgang said...

Lori - you need to write a book!

Leah said...

It is so nice to know I am not the only one who feels like I ruined my children, only to learn that we do sometimes end up getting it right. Great blog.