/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » morals, virtues, and the 4-year-old

Mark & I try to live what we say we believe on a daily basis, but especially in front of our 4 year-old son. And in the realm of homeschooling (and with a bit of an assumption that I will use Sonlight’s material), I’ve gone ahead and procured copies of Bill Bennett’s “Book of Virtues” and “The Moral Compass.” We teach what the Bible teaches, we talk about God and what He wants us to do on a daily basis, and our church empowers parents to disciple their kids and learn the same material at the same time. So we should be set, right?

Apparently not by a long shot. 😐

We’ve been working with Brendan for nearly a year on what constitutes lying. What a lie is, what it means to lie, and how it makes us as his parents sad, as well as making God’s heart sad. And in my little corner of the world, lying is the worst offense one can make; it tells me that the lying individual doesn’t value me enough as a person to think I could handle the truth (please, no Jack Nicholson lines here!) and doesn’t value our relationship enough to speak truthfully. We’ve even told Brendan that he will get in less trouble for doing whatever it is he’s done than he would for lying about whatever he’s done. So our bases are covered, right?

Not quite. 😐

Yesterday afternoon, I was getting things together for mailing a package and Brendan was up from his nap. And as his practice, I permitted him to find a snack (yogurt, I think it was) in the fridge. He was absent for longer than I thought was necessary to grab a Yoplait and a spoon, and so I called for him.

Me: Brendan! What are you doing?

Brendan: Nothing! [my note: isn’t this a teenager’s response?]

Me: Uh-uh. Not a good answer. Come here and talk to me, please.

Brendan: Coming…

[now in the study]

Me: What have you been doing?

Brendan: Nothing. Getting a yog’.

Me: [eyeing the blue on his nose, around his mouth, on his naked belly, and on his fingers] Have you been eating frosting?

Brendan: No.

Me: Are you SURE you haven’t been in to frosting?

Brendan: I’m sure!

Me: Are you lying to me? Are you telling a lie?

Brendan: [innocently blinking at me] No, Mama!

Me: Remember, you’ll get in more trouble for lying than for telling me about doing a no-no…

Brendan: [clearly thinking; his wheels are grinding] I did eat some frosting. I’m sorry for telling you a lie….

Me: I *knew* you ate frosting, B-boy. I’m glad you told me the truth, and I forgive you for lying.

Brendan: How did you know?

Me: Look at your fingers and belly! Now go wash up, eh?

I know that no amount of proactive parenting will prevent ALL character flaws and moral lapses, but I surely did have my hopes that I could avoid some of the most obvious ones. Apparently, this is not to be so. But I had a pretty good idea of how it must’ve been for the Lord in the Garden of Eden with Adam & Eve and the confrontation on their sin…God knew what they’d done and waited for them to come clean. And I knew what Brendan had done and waited for him to come clean (figuratively and literally). Now that’s where the analogy falls apart, because I’m not perfect, sinless, and omnipresent. Although to my kid, it must seem like I’m omnipresent, which probably isn’t such a bad thing in and of itself. 😉.

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