The lying game

I’ve caught my daughter in a lie. Not our usual scenario — she is hurt or sick and doesn’t want me to know, so she says she feels fine. No, this is an irrefutable lie: She got into the Advent present bin and opened presents. (All of them. At least the bin was small enough that she only had access to a few.)

I’ve suspected as much for days. She offered her brother a toy I was certain I’d not given him yet (before she figured out the wrapping paper was color coded). Also, I was seeing more Shopkins baskets than I believed she’d received. Before that, she was getting into the Advent tree and filching candy. I put the tree up out of her reach until December 1…but I guess I didn’t address the sneaking part strongly enough.

Today I caught her playing with a toy I knew she had not received yet. Checked her room, and sure enough, there was the Advent container, the wrapping paper, and the toy packaging. No denying it now.

Man. I was not ready for this conversation.

Today, of all days, too — today I am swamped. So I gave it a quick “lying isn’t nice/Santa is watching you” and went back to work. But I know I need to do better than that. I just…don’t know how.

I remember being caught in my first lie. I climbed a tree that was too small for such treatment and broke a limb off. At my babysitter’s house, no less. She was really good about how she handled it, but I still felt ashamed. (Still feel ashamed, as ridiculous as that sounds. Nearly 40 years later.) I’m trying to follow her example, and handle this firmly but gently. I don’t want to ruin the Advent tradition for Anya. As I suspect I have ruined her enjoyment of that Elsa doll.

Much as I hate to do it, I know I need to not replace those Advent gifts. If she still gets a present every day, she’s going to think that this behavior is ultimately okay. And it is not okay.

This opens the door for a bunch of crap I really don’t want to deal with. Not with this child. I was timid and people-pleasing and constantly worried about doing what was right. All you had to do to make me fall in line was be disappointed in me. My kid doesn’t have a timid bone in her body, and is too headstrong to consider what others expect of her when she wants something. No, I need to nip the lying in the bud.

But how to do it with love…that’s the issue.

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