Honesty is the Best Policy

I’ve said it before, yet it is worth repeating…One of the trickiest parts of parenting is that it doesn’t always yield immediate results, say, like baking bread does. Heck, it doesn’t even require the patience, fortitude and technique that it takes to start and maintain a sourdough starter. Parenting requires the chutzpah it would take to start a freaking boulangerie. In Paris.

Yet every now and again, you’re delivered a morsel more delicious than the sourdough baguette that I just took out of my oven.  You are given a moment from your child that says, “I do hear you. You are helping me learn. I am internalizing your lessons.” And let me tell you, while I haven’t lasted for more than a month or two on any of those Godforsaken low carb diets, these moments could almost make me give up carbs.

Here’s today’s morsel…

Last night, I fell asleep watching TV. That is nothing out of the ordinary for me these days when I find my ability to sleep through the night is worse than a newborn baby. I was searching for the remote to turn the tv off and head up to bed when I discovered under the couch a torn up cork coaster.  Now, really, it wasn’t a big deal. It was a cork coaster. The only real connection that I had to this set is that I got it on a trip to Lisbon. I put it on the table and thought I would check in with one of the two likely coaster rippers in the morning. 

I was taking the youngest to school when we had this conversation:

“A, I want to ask you something. I promise you that I won’t be mad. But I would like you to tell me the truth.”

“Okay,” she replied from the back seat.

“I found a coaster under the couch that was torn into pieces. Do you know how that happened?” I asked, glancing into the rear-view mirror. 

“Um, yes. I did it,” she answered, returning her eye contact in the mirror, curious if I would hold up my end of the bargain. 

“Thank you for being honest,” I assured her of my promise. “It isn’t really a big deal. I had bought those on a vacation. But I would like to keep the rest of them safe. Can you please not rip any more of them? And, A, I’m really glad that you told me the truth.”

“Of course. It’s important for me to tell the truth because honesty is one of my cornerstones. Besides, if you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about lies.”

My heart swelled (and not because I was suddenly suffering from angina.) It swelled in a good way. A was reciting something that she had heard in school. One of her school’s “cornerstones” is honesty. I knew that she had heard this from there because “cornerstone” wouldn’t be a term that I would normally use with her, even though she has heard me often speak of the importance of being honest. I was also reminded of how better the world would be if some followed the wisdom that my six-year old just demonstrated to me.

So her courage to trust me enough to tell me the truth came in part from a lesson she is learning at her school, which in turn, reminded me of the ol’ “It takes a village” adage. Parenting can often feel like a journey that one is on alone. By alone, I mean it can feel isolating, and that is even if you are parenting with someone. In reality, we almost never really are alone.

It further reminded me that our choice to move was a good one.  Our primary motivator to move, like many parents, was based on the current and future schools that we would have available to the girls.  The decision was still tricky because, like anything, it’s always a gamble. Is this the right time? We are in the midst of a pandemic.  Will it be the right move? Would it have been better if we just stayed put? Will they be happy? Will they make friends? Will we make friends?These are all questions that one toils over when trying to decided. Ultimately, you never know if it will be the right thing or not. You just have to take the leap of faith based on your gut.  

This parenting win, like today’s baguettes, was one that I can be proud of. It won’t always be like that. There’s a good chance that just like bread dough that I occasionally overproof, I will mess up in this parenting thing again. And probably even before the day is over. But I am also learning that intention is more important than perfection. Intention is, of itself, a form of honesty.  

And for god’s sake, eat carbs. I’m sure your grandmother would want you to. Or at least mine would. Honestly. Oh, and don’t forget to vote.

At-home dad, husband, gay man, marathon runner, sarcastic to the core, off-center

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