April 16, 2015
Thank you, Meghan Trainor, for giving me a peppy little ditty to sing in my head so I don’t lose my mind.
She’s been lying, lying a lot. (Our girl, not Meghan Trainor. I have no idea if Meghan Trainor has been lying.) She didn’t used to lie, not much anyway, so I don’t know what’s started it. She’s comfortable with us, and I’m sure that’s a big part of it. And she’s older, making her more confident in her manipulations. And she’s been spending more time with her bio family…which is probably the biggest factor of all. -sigh-
I hate lying. It breaks and undermines something fundamentally very important. It feels dirty and ugly and puts walls up where there should be none. I dislike it so much that I go to lengths to avoid it, preferring to awkwardly dance around a topic if I don’t feel comfortable giving an honest answer. (Although, as a side-note, I’m also super non-confrontational, so the “I-tell-it-like-it-is-and-you-can-just-deal-with-it” attitude isn’t my brand of honesty. It’s really important to me to always tell the truth AND always make people feel good, which sometimes requires some…creativity. Or silence.) I have a hard time giving compliments unless I’m certain I’m being sincere. I don’t like retelling a story unless I know I have all the facts straight and am giving credit where credit is due, and I don’t like listening to a retelling when I know the details are being fudged. And I really, REALLY don’t like being systematically lied to by a little girl that I’m pouring so much time and energy and love into.
The thing is, the more she lies to me, the less time and energy and love I find myself pouring into her, so we get ourselves into this discouraging cycle of diminishing returns, where her lying results in less positive input from me, and less positive input from me results in more lying from her, and on and on. I feel the good things we’ve fought for just slipping through my fingers, and sometimes, like tonight, I feel too tired to fight for them again.
So much of what she lies about is ridiculous, because her lies are so transparent. She says she brushed her teeth but the toothbrush is bone dry. She says she did her homework but it’s sitting on her bed undone. She says she put her things in her backpack but they’re sitting on her floor. She lies to blame-shift. She lies to avoid doing work. One time I told her to stop picking her nose, and she held up the hand that wasn’t digging for gold and said “I’m not.” She looked at me with her earnest, nose-picking face and told me she wasn’t picking her nose.
I was reading about RAD (reactive attachment disorder, which she doesn’t have, but there’s some overlap), and one of the traits of a child with RAD is that they lie, and persist in their lies, even when they’re caught in the middle of them, and even when it’s as plain as day that they’re lying. Sound familiar? On the one hand, reading this helped because it’s always comforting to know that what you’re experiencing is normal. On the other hand, it did NOT help, because it is NOT comforting to know that this thing that’s normal is also quite possibly so deeply entrenched as a result of the trauma the child has experienced that it is likely to never leave them.
She was away this afternoon, at a visit with her family, and for a few hours the conversation in our house was straightforward and pleasant. Then she walked in, and immediately started lying, and the tension in the house was suddenly palpable. How can this tiny little person, taking up a tiny-little-person-sized space in a whole big house, change the entire atmosphere? But where moments before there had been peace, suddenly I was frustrated and raising my voice , and she was responding with inappropriately-timed laughter and more lies.
I sent her to bed angry, but later relented and called her back out so we could talk for a little bit. She put on a fake sad voice and lied about why she was lying, then headed cheerfully, but very slowly, back to her room. “Please go to your room now,” I said. “I AM,” she responded sweetly-ish, while not actually going to her room as she stopped to dawdle needlessly in the kitchen.
Lord help us both.