Los Pantalones Del Fuego

I am definitely not perfect… of this I am acutely aware. But if there is one thing I am NOT, it is a liar. I am absolutely honest to a fault. I learned a long time ago that as someone with expressive brown eyes, there really is no point in trying to lie. I had to accept the truth that a poker player I will never be. I know I will never be perfect, but no matter how imperfect I may be, I know I should always strive to be a good person. And good people should not lie.

I have a hard time understanding how some people can lie as easily as breathe. And how confusing to have to keep track of your lies and who you told what so that they don’t catch you. I would have an absolute panic attack trying to keep up with my lies. I would have to create some sort of app for my iphone that kept track and cross-referenced my lies so that I wouldn’t worry about it nonstop.

I have dated people throughout my life who have lied to me continuously and I was too naïve to even think that they were not being honest. Over the past few years I have become much better at figuring out who to trust and who not to trust. As a general rule I chose to just not trust anyone. Admittedly that is not the best attitude to have, but now that we have two teenage boys in our home it is probably a pretty good policy to have.

As a friend of ours who has three teenage daughters told us one night, “They are all liars. Just know if anything comes out of their mouths, it is lies.” And we are learning this is true… in small but upsetting ways.

So why DO they lie? And where in the world do they learn such behavior? Joe and I strive to live honest, open lives that are full of trust and love and communication. So why do we find the kids lying to us about small and insignificant things? And if they lie about something as small as, “I didn’t text you back because I didn’t see your text” (when you saw the read receipt and can see on the phone bill that he was texting friends at the very same time), then what else are they lying about?

I think a lot of this culture of lying is learned behavior. So many parents are unaware of just how much their kids hear – driving in the car talking on the phone or talking in another room while the kids are home. The kids hear one thing being said and then another being said and they process it all… They hear their mom telling a story about their dad that they know isn’t true or they hear their dad lie to a customer about why they can’t meet that afternoon. How can we expect our children to tell the truth if they see us being less than truthful?

The worst is when I hear about parents who encourage lies to the other parents – seemingly as an “I’m on your side” thing, but it is teaching the child that lying is okay. What may seem like an innocent little white lie, “You can call your dad back in the morning… I will tell him you were asleep,” essentially says to your child, “It’s okay to lie to dad if it’s convenient for you to do so.” As a parent, you need to model the behavior that you want to see in your child. They are like puppets and they learn from what they see in you.

One of my friends going through a divorce told me about a talk she had with her four year old that I thought was good. She said that she told her daughter, “If either your father or I ever say to you, ‘Don’t tell your mom’ or ‘Don’t tell your dad,’ then we have done something we know is wrong and the first thing you need to do is tell the other parent.” I think that’s a good rule of thumb for a divorced family. If one parent doesn’t want the other parent to know – where the kids spent the night, who spent the night, how late the kids stay up, what someone said – then it’s probably something the other parent needs to know.

This has been on my mind lately because the other night, my sweet bonus daughter said, “Valerie, you lied to me.” I looked at her baffled because I know that I never lie and asked her what she was talking about. She said, “The other night I asked you if we had any ice cream and you said no.” I made a quick inventory in my brain of everything we have in the freezer and I said with confidence, “We DON’T have any ice cream.” And she said, “Yes we do. Come here.” She led me into the pantry and showed me some peppermint ice cream in the deep freezer that may have been there since the 1900’s (not really, but that’s fun to say).


We would have to use an ice pick to chop that ice cream out of the deep freeze!!

Joe and I both had a talk with her about how we will not lie. I explained that the ice cream she was talking about was so old it was stuck in the freezer and that if we HAD ice cream I would tell her, “Yes, we have ice cream, but you can’t have any right now,” before I lied and said, “Sorry, we don’t have any.” That is just not how I roll. There are some parents who don’t like to be the “bad guy,” so they would rather lie than just tell their kids “no.”

I think the kids all know that Joe and I are true to our word. As you have heard me say before, our home is a home of open communication and no fear. We want to teach our children that words may lie, but actions will always tell the truth. They will grow up and know whose word to believe based on how they see us live.



Our Weekend Off?

The first few years of my children’s lives I couldn’t take my eyes off of them for a second.  My entire life revolved around chasing behind them nonstop – whether at the beach, the park or my home.  We all know the feeling of uneasiness a parent feels when the house is quiet.  There is comfort in hearing your children banging around or laughing because you know exactly where they are and what they are doing.   When there is quiet you fear that you will walk into a room with a 4 year old with scissors and very little hair left or a pretty new scribbled mural on the wall.

My sweet boy at the beach...

My sweet boy at the beach…

Then my children reached an amazing stage of independence.  I called it the “gliding stage” to my friends.  I could read magazines on the beach while they played in the shallow water and I could enjoy our time together in the afternoon after school because there were not any serious organized sports team practices.  They could get up in the morning and fix their own breakfast while I showered without any fear on my part that the house would burn to the ground.  This stage felt so good that I foolishly believed it would last… until we hit the next stage.

As kids grow, so do their extracurricular activities.   We went from lazy afternoons of playing in the yard to detailed, color-coded calendar days and constant emails between their stepmom and me about carpooling.   Acting classes, basketball practices, piano lessons, running groups… we have something scheduled every day.  Throw into the mix that my son’s AAU basketball team practices 30 minutes away three days a week (with practice ending at 9pm!) and you quickly see that our family time is now spent in the car.  So I’m back to chasing my kids around nonstop, but in a different way.  They still crave the independence they have learned, but I have to shuttle them around.

Piano recitals are so much fun...

Piano recitals are so much fun…

That's my boy!  We have AAU tournaments most weekends...

That’s my boy! We have AAU tournaments most weekends…

When I was newly divorced and in that non-stop chasing stage, my kids would go see their dad every other weekend out of town and I would absolutely bask in the nothingness I could do ALL WEEKEND.  Times change and kids grow.  Now that I live close to my ex, Joe and I have the weekend without kids and don’t have time to even breathe.

Someone asked me yesterday as I was getting off the elevator on my way home from work, “Do you have any big plans this weekend?”  And I quickly responded with, “No! We got married last weekend, so this weekend is going to be very quiet thankfully…” As I was speaking I thought of something and had to add to that, “Well, I have to take my daughter to piano tonight before I take her to her dad…. and my son has three basketball games tomorrow in an AAU tournament… well, my daughter has a piano recital tomorrow night… and my step-kids have a piano recital on Sunday… and we are teaching Sunday School.”

She is so talented... she has wont the mile run in First in Fitness Wake County for three years straight.

She is so talented… she has won the mile run in First in Fitness Wake County for three years straight.

When I got into my car I had to just sit still for a moment… as I came to the realization that it may be some of the only quiet time I get all weekend.  So to those people who think that divorced parents “get every other weekend off,” I say you are terribly wrong.  Any mother worth a grain of salt wants to be at their children’s events – even if it’s not “her weekend” with the kids.

If you think that Joe and I are laying around all weekend eating bon-bons and watching movies, all I can say is I WISH…  We will be running around all weekend cheering on the four people we love best in this world.  We don’t want to miss a thing – no matter who they are with for the weekend.

Joe and me at an early morning basketball game at the Y... and it was "our weekend off."

Joe and me at an early morning basketball game at the Y… and it was “our weekend off.”

The beauty of it all is the kids will never forget it and they will benefit from our consistency.  They all four know that we want to be there to support them at every single game, performance, and recital.  Is it always the most convenient thing for us? No.  But you cannot possibly be a good parent if you are selfish.  I’m proud of the fact that my children can look in the stands and see their mother, their stepfather, their stepmother and various grandparents – all sitting together in solidarity to support the one thing we all have in common… our unconditional love for our kids.

If you need me this weekend, call my cell.  I probably won’t answer.  I’ll be busy supporting my children & step-children – enjoying every chaotic second of my “weekend off.”