And the truth will….

…completely shock you,

…elude you for days,

…eventually set you free?

“At some point in your life, Little Guy, you’re going to have to learn not to listen to your brother, Mr. Ornery!!”

The two mothers of boys on The Little Guy’s gymnastics team just cackled in laughter. “You mean, you didn’t know?” they guffawed. “But he told all the boys on the team that it was an apple on a knife!” one exclaimed.  “I just literally found out this morning!” I sighed, shaking my head.

For five whole days I was under the impression that my “poor” eight-year-old had tripped over his own two feet while spinning around our kitchen floor and hit his chin off the countertop. Because that’s what he told me. And that’s what he told the babysitter when he came downstairs with paper towels pressed to his face and soaked in blood. And that’s what he told the doctor at the emergency department when we got there for SEVEN stitches on the night I turned around just as I was parking to hear Ibram X. Kendi speak (you know, after purchasing the tickets months ago!). And that’s what he told his aunt and grandmother and all his friends and teachers at school.

Five days! Five days until Mr. Ornery blurted it out on a Saturday morning. Five days before The Little Guy finally confessed when I told him I wouldn’t talk to him the rest of the day until I heard the truth. Little man, if you had told me the truth from the beginning, I would have said, “Well, that wasn’t very smart, was it? Do you see now why Mommy says, ‘Don’t ever touch my knife set’?”  Behavior. Consequence. Done.

And here, I almost let you have Halloween back. I was feeling compassionate about you getting injured and being so brave and stoic despite the discomfort of the stitches. I was being kind in letting you have an early dismissal from school the next day to rest. I was actually feeling sorry for you. Imagine tripping and busting your lip open. Maybe you should go Trick-or-Treating. But no, now I’m planning to wrap up empty boxes for you for Christmas!!

The reason I’m over the top with rage is that less than three weeks ago, The Little Guy sat in the car on his way to gymnastics practice and told me that a boy was mean to him on the bus and put him in a choke-hold. Knowing this little boy, I doubted the story and said, “Hmmm, that doesn’t sound right, my dear.” “Don’t you care about choking?” he asked in disbelief. “Oh, I care very much. It’s just that I haven’t heard the whole story yet.”  And the next morning, a mom at the bus stop revealed that the real story involved MY boy reaching across the aisle and grabbing his friend around the head. The real story is that my son had been bouncing around the bus and eventually got into an argument with another kid. The real story is that my son then lied to me about who was at fault. And that’s when he became grounded for the month, including all Halloween activities! I don’t take bullying or lying lightly!

And now this? He already wrote “I will only speak the truth” one hundred times, but since that didn’t help, he’s working on his second set of 200 lines. Other than church, school, gymnastics and meals (can’t break the no-food-upstairs rule!), he’s now isolated to his bedroom one day for each person he lied to….and Mommy counts for two days at least.  This evening he mumbled, “Well, I’ve finished the two days for Mommy, so today is for Mrs. S.” (his third grade teacher). Yes, we will just name the days now of which victim is sponsoring his quarantine.

The rational side of my brain knows that this is normal developmental behavior for a young kid. My rational side knows he just doesn’t want to be in trouble. My rational side knows the 10-year-old set him up (he also has consequences). But to have this follow his most recent episode of lying just put me over the edge. And one of the biggest reasons I tell my boys not to lie to me is that my job is to protect them as a mom. I need to know the truth to keep them safe and I need to be able to trust them. You know, a fact I’ve explained a million times now.

And will….a million times more!

Yes, these are the stories from childhood that will last forever.

“How did you get that scar?”

“Well, you see, there was an apple and a knife….but I told my mom it was the kitchen counter or was it the bathroom counter?!”

Ephiphany – Realizing the real Truth of the Holidays

Epiphany – this could become one of my new favorite words. The pastor explained the meaning of Epiphany this morning at church as “it is the realization of the truth that was already there.”

You see, last week I posted a very nice, albeit a bit mushy, post about how holidays can make one feel perfect. And that all happened solely because Super Tall Guy just happened to mention those words as he got ready for bed. I, on the other hand, had been much more ready to share the Truth, but alas, that has had to wait.

So, on this Epiphany Sunday, I thought I would share the Truth about Holidays so that you might also have an epiphany and realize the Truth that is already there.

Holidays stink. (I try to watch my language in posting….I have a wide (not really) audience of mostly family and friends….and who knows, maybe someday the boys will read these….)

But they really do stink (insert whatever).

Here are the Top Ten Reasons:

8. You are just too tired to care anymore.  You had to stay up into the wee hours of the morning for 3 nights before Christmas just to get ready. Then family arrives and you stay up visiting and playing games (so much fun!). Then New Years’ Eve arrives and you feel compelled to get the second wind to stay up again!! And by now, the sleep deprivation is so vast that I can only think of 8 things instead of 10 reasons that the Holidays stink….and I don’t actually care.

7. Your kids’ normal out-of-control behavior is even more out-of-control. The two-year-old and the three-year-old won’t nap, becoming wild hooligans in the evening twitching hours and sleep fitfully (likely due to exhaustion). The older boys have too much energyIMG_4647 due to insufficient gross motor play, such that the front room becomes a basketball court and the mothers don’t even flinch (praying for that chandelier!).

6. The kids start thinking that they are entitled to have soda with every meal and eat as much chocolate and candy canes that they want in-between meals. Any time I would enter a room and see The Little Guy scamper and attempt to hide, I knew to immediately bark, “Let me have it!” Sometimes I even caught him before the lines of liquified chocolate were streaming down his chin.

5. Churches trick you into attending “Family Service” which turns out to be a 50-minute long tortuous experience of trying to keep tired, excited, hyped-up little boys quiet for a sermon (really, a sermon?) followed by a 5-minute screaming battle for control of the burning candle –“Me hold it” vs “No, Mommy holds it” as the rest of the congregation tries to respectfully and quietly sing Silent Night.

4. You can’t decide if you don’t want to go to work because the thought of being “on holiday” and taking a break is just so delightful. Or you DO want to go into work because you realize that if the kids are home, you’re not actually “ON holiday” and it’s more tiring to be home than at the office!!

3. You have a constant nagging sense that you’ve forgotten something….and chances are about 100% that that feeling is true. So, if I somehow managed to get the Christmas cards out before Christmas, is it okay that the nieces and nephews gifts arrived on Epiphany Sunday?  You know, make them wait….till the Wise Men appear (or the aunt clicks the button!).

2. You can’t quite figure out how it could be January already and you wish you had checked your first-grader’s backpack….like when he was let out for the two-week holiday break, rather than a few days before he’s to return to school….and turn in all those “Practice over the Break” worksheets!

1. And the number one reason the Holidays stink is because they really are warm and wonderful, with family and friends, and twinkling Christmas lights and soft white bulbs decorating the staircase, and the good food – oh, the food….and everything seems wonderful and magical. I just love it. And then it ends…and you are left to face the short days, the dark nights, the slippery snow, and the cold, cold winds. And you would rather just climb back into pajamas, throw the covers over your head, and begin the count-down to next Christmas. (Mr. Ornery already wants to know how many “sleeps” there will be before then!)