When I was a kid, I lied all the time. About everything.
This is according to my mom. I have no recollection.
The story goes that I would hit my brother in plain sight and then vehemently deny it when confronted. Full-on crying as though a great injustice was being served.
I imagine somewhere deep down, I must have convinced myself I was being framed. In actuality, I didn’t like getting in trouble or disappointing adults, so I was probably protecting myself from having to accept fault and feeling shame.
Kids are complicated.
While I don’t remember the years of bold-faced lies, what I do remember was the day it all took a turn.
My mom babysat these two other kids. One was my age. Her name was Kristen. Her brother, Matthew, was several years younger than us.
One day when Kristen was at our house, she brought a candy bar for a snack. My mom had made homemade popcorn for the group snack. I hated homemade popcorn. Especially compared to a candy bar.
Kristen and I made a deal. I’d have her candy bar, and she’d have my popcorn.
When snack time came around, I grabbed the candy bar … and Kristen told my mom I’d stolen it.
And my mom believed her!
While Kristen pranced around the backyard eating MY candy bar, I stood in the kitchen with my back against a chair, while my mom grilled me about lying.
“But she said I could have it.”
Tears. Snot. Indignation. Maybe even a good foot stomp and clenched fists. I had it all going on. This. Was. Not. Fair.
And then my mom delivered the phrase that would change my life.
“If you don’t stop lying to me, I’ll never be able to believe you for the rest of your life.”
Never believe you. For. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life.
The words echoed inside me like a tornado. The heavy weight of FOREVER.
I can’t say I never lied to my mom again. I was only eight after all. But I have definitely weighed my responses differently from that day forward, and I can still hear her saying to me, “I will never be able to believe you for the rest of your life.”
Words like that can change a person.