Lately my son has been experimenting with creative truth-telling. Yes, it's a nice way to say he is lying his butt off. And it isn't like the things are that important. These exchanges are taking place with increasing frequency:
Me: Did you clean the cat box?
JBear: Yes, I cleaned the cat box, both the office and the bathroom. [earnest look on his face, not meeting my eyes, but then, with autism, he rarely meets my eyes]
[I check the box, it has not been cleaned]. Son, why did you tell me that you cleaned the litterbox when clearly you had not?
JBear: But I did. I cleaned it!
Me: JBear, I need the truth.
JBear: [scowling defiantly] I didn't clean it. I don't want to.
And then he goes and does whatever he was told to do in the first place. This can be anything from putting his clothes away, brushing his teeth, reading a book vs. playing Nintendo...
Now I know as a mother of a child with autism, I could be pleased by this latest development. Some
idiots experts will tell you that a child with autism cannot lie. I present, exhibit #1: my son. And besides, being lied to is damned annoying. I want it to stop.
So I had a Come To Jesus talk with him today, and laid out some ground rules for him.
- You must try not to lie. A man/woman/person is only as good as his word, his honor is all he has. If he cannot be trusted, he will not have friends. (yes, some people hang out with other people who lie to them, but how do you ever know if they are telling you the truth?)
- Honor, meaning whether someone sees you as a person who is good and has integrity (can be trustworthy) will follow you the rest of your life.
- Character is who you are when no one is looking...do you take that cookie? Do you return that wallet?
- Your actions become your habits. If you continue to lie, it will become second-nature and you may not be able to stop.
There are such things as "social lies," and these can be complicated. But some situations are:
- If someone asks you if you like their haircut, I don't care if you think they look worse than a dog with it's butt shaved walking backwards. You do not get to say that to the person. It hurts feelings.
- You are not allowed to call your mother,"Old Lady," even if you do think 42 is old. There is a certain amount of respect that someone gets just for being older than you. Just because you think it doesn't mean you need to say it out loud. Engage your mouth filter.
- There are times you do not have to tell the whole truth to everyone, always. A bit is sufficient. People who call on the phone do not need to know your mother is in the bathroom, pooping.
- Sometimes it is kinder not to share the entire truth. You do not have the right to rub your intellect into others' faces, or make them feel small. Even if you really do know more about medieval weaponry than they do.
- If you think someone is an idiot, keep it to yourself. Fighting words can get you into a fight. Yes, there are many idiots out there, but believe it or not, few actually know they are idiots. That's why they are idiots. Do not believe you are doing anyone a favor by removing the blinders from their eyes. They won't believe you anyway.
- There are times it is easier to go along with what someone says, rather than argue them into the ground. Exceptions to this are when your values are compromised, laws are broken or you feel uncomfortable in any way. (refer back to when people are idiots)
We have a long way to go in the area of truth-telling, but I believe we have a start now. Now comes the repetition. Did I forget any social lies that he needs to know?
What's the craziest white lie you know of...either your own, or someone else's?
T, who is getting really frustrated with the lying