I think children find their own truths. Those that work for them.
For example, my daughter will tell me she is dog-tired. She has had a tough day at her summer job, survived on just a cup of milk for breakfast and coffee for lunch, and does not have energy left to fill the water bottles to place in the fridge. In other words, Could I please fill them for her? is the unspoken question.
I comply; the mother syndrome always overtakes me. This is the truth my daughter knows, the truth of the gullible mom; it works for her every time. Ten minutes later I see her watching T.V. in her bedroom, with all the sleep and weariness gone from her eyes. Her work is done.
What is my truth? My truth is that whatever I may say--scold, cajole, persuade, promise, bribe, threaten--she will do what she wants when she wants and that is it. And I will still think of her as my baby, though she is an eighteen-year-old in college, with more energy in her young body than in that of her mother's.
There are consequences to these truths. I grow older and get tired faster, since the body is like any other machine; wear and tear and age will show. And I cannot even claim depreciation. More important is that my daughter finds it is easier to get around people through making excuses rather than telling the plain and simple truth. So instead of saying, "I don't want to fill the water bottles everyday," and face the consequences of making an outright rude and unhelpful statement that shows her in "such a bad light," she plays the card of "poor me, mother, I'm so tired and I have worked so hard on an empty stomach," and gets not only sympathy but also the work done for her.
So what if she gets a talking-to after the fact? The work is over, and tomorrow is another day. That is the way of the world, and children learn these truths fast. If truth be told, we are good teachers of what the consequences of truth are.
[First published online in Mosaic Minds]