“Mom, did you really love her new hair color?" asks one of my mini-me's after running into an old acquaintance.
Uh-oh. I see where this is going.
"What's important is that she loves her new hair color," I replied.
But I raised these inquisitive, perceptive little interrogators.
"But, that's not what you said. You didn't say anything about her loving it. You said you loved it."
It wasn't a lovable hair color. It wasn't even likable. And it was more than one color. And the wrong colors at that. And my kids knew it.
"Okay," I sighed between deep breaths. "I lied."
These kids perked right up, displaying the kind of energy that a prosecutor would exhibit when the defense makes a major mistake that changes the direction of trial.
I didn't even let them get one little predictable word in.
"Yes. I lied. Yes. It was wrong. And no, it's not okay for you to do it. And, yes, it's a double standard I'm setting. And yes, I can do that. And if you don't know what a double standard is, Google it."
They were silent. And I cherished the moment.
For about six minutes.
Then, my overanalytical mind superseded my super powerful mom moment.
Why couldn't I just bask in the glory of my quick and all mighty shutdown of the banter from my little army? Why can't I leave well enough alone?
Because I know I raised kids who raise good questions.
So, I initiate a family powwow.
"Go ahead. You guys have the floor. Speak your mind. Respectfully. I'll listen."
The words came out like rapid fire. I had to make them take turns talking. In no particular order, here are a few random snippets.
"Why is it okay to lie to someone about hair color but you won't lie for me when I forget my homework at school?"
"Why don't you just tell (unmentionable family member) why we didn't visit, instead of saying you couldn't get vacation time?"
"Why do you tell friends you're not feeling good or you have plans instead of telling them you don't have the money to go?"
I tried to be honest.
"I don't want you lying to your teacher when you were in the wrong. You forgot your homework, and there are consequences.
"I don't tell them I'm broke because I don't want them offering to pay for me.
"I tell someone their hair is pretty and that I couldn't get vacation time because being honest in either of those situations just makes the situation worse. There's no need to be hurtful."
Kourtnie immediately spoke up. "So, you want us to understand that there are times when lying is harmless, necessary and not always out of disrespect?"
I surrendered. "Yes, I suppose."
"You mean like when we omit certain details from our weekend with Dad because since the divorce emotions are high and sometimes we see you react in a way that we think hurts you.
"And the same goes for Dad. So, we leave some parts out because they aren't important. They would potentially just be hurtful. And there's no need to be hurtful. But, it's not out of disrespect."
They did it again. They lawyered up and presented their case as eloquently as any adult.
"I see your point, and I can't argue it. My only response is you never have to lie to me. I'd rather you be honest and I can deal with the hurt."
So, why do we deem a lie that is believed to protect someone as harmless but lying about stealing or cheating as betrayal?
The problem lies (pun intended) with the fact that we preach to our kids that we don't lie, and we hold them to higher standards.
We're all liars. Maybe we start by being honest about that.
Heather Tempesta is a single mother of three who lives in Brandon.