Monday, March 7, 2011

Your little heart will turn black

Something happened in the kids' bedroom.  Something small.  Completely insignificant, really.  What bothered me is that when I asked who did it, all I got was "not me" in stereo.

I've been running into this problem more often lately.  Everyone denies everything and there is no one to take the blame, receive punishment, have a talk with, and learn not to repeat the offense.  But in the middle of the morning rush, with breakfast to make, school lunches to pack, diapers to change, baby to feed, dishes to wash...I may have shelved the problem with a "harumph" a couple of times and forgotten to address it later.

This time, I decided, the case would be solved.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The trouble with rules and restrictions is that you have to enforce them.  That's probably the number one reason why little terrors exists; the parents just didn't find the time and energy to enforce their boundaries.

I forbade movies, sweets--anything I could think of--until the guilty person stepped forward.  I use every plea and threat in the arsenal of a mother and yet they both continued to deny any part in it.  After three days, I felt crazy.  Should I just give up?  Will they think they can get away with lying to me?  Am I being obsessive?  Do they still love me?  Do they think I'm insane?

I couldn't give up.  Yes, I really am that stubborn.  But I was at the end of my rope, so I sat them down and promised a window of opportunity to come out of this without being punished for the lying.  "The most important thing," I told my blue-eyed munchkins, "is that you are honest with me and that I can trust you."

Silence.

I thought of my dear mother-in-law and her famous saying that seems to be responsible for making my husband the incredibly honest man that he is.  So I added, "You know...if you tell a lie, your little heart will turn black."

After pondering these words for a moment, tears started welling up in Puriel's eyes.  "Will it really?" he asked.  "That's what Abuelita always said," I answered carefully.  He confessed.  We hugged, reconciled, and had a wonderful evening playing together on the living room carpet and laughing over Dr. Seuss' silly stories.