Category: life lessons

The truth about lies

The truth about lies

Dear H and N,

You remember the other day we were reading Matilda? The formidable Ms Trunchbull was yelling at her and Matilda tells a tiny white lie to save herself. You know what a white lie is, don’t you? It’s that small harmless lie that hurts no one but might actually save someone.

A question in your worksheet asked, “Did you think Matilda did right?” Both of you were in complete agreement with her, given that Ms Trunchbull was such a tyrant and she was but a child.

We talked about honesty and H, you were pretty accurate when you said, ‘If a lie doesn’t harm anyone, it is okay.’And N you had added, “When mamas tell babies to drink up their milk or their bones will break, it’s okay na, even though bones don’t ACTUALLY break if we don’t drink milk, right?’

Yes well you are right. 

Or are you??

Listen to this story before you make up your mind…

Imagine you have a friend; a special friend who is always with you. He talks to no one but you and no one can hear him but you. He’s a bit magical in that he always knows right from wrong. He has a problem, though – he cannot keep quiet when he sees any dishonesty – even the tiniest most harmless one. He’s a bit crazy like that.

Each time you are dishonest — even a tinny tiny bit, even when you’ve simply kept quiet when you might have spoken up — he bugs you and bugs you and bugs you till you feel really bad. Just when you are feeling relieved you’ve warded off a horrible yelling or a punishment he reminds you that you’ve done it dishonestly and makes you feel bad all over again.

And so you get angry and tell him to shut up. “I know it’s not the complete truth but THIS time it doesn’t matter. It’s just a tiny lie,” you say. But he doesn’t listen. “A lie is a lie,” says he, over and over again. Finally you’ve had enough and you’re so angry you tape his lips.

With each little lie another bit of tape goes onto your friend’s lips. 

Over the years it becomes a habit, this ‘shutting up’ your friend. His voice becomes more and more faint, till you can hear it no more and you’re lying without even thinking. You forget you ever had a friend. Finally there comes a time when you’re all grown up and you have a big complicated decision to make where the right and wrong is all mixed up and you cannot make out one from the other. “Aha!” you think then, “my friend can tell me, he has the magic that tells right from wrong”.

Then you remember, with a bit of regret, you’ve taped him up. “No problem,” you think as you start to painstakingly remove it all. Finally, the tape is off but what is this?? He still cannot speak. After years and years of silence he has lost his magic voice.

What do you do then? Of course, you might come to me or to papa but we might not be around by then. Besides, we haven’t been with you all along like your friend and may not have the right answers. What then? You’re quite stuck, right? It will be a hard hard task to teach your friend to talk again and by then it just might be too late.

We all have this friend inside us. It’s called the Conscience. The thing to do, dear children, is to keep your little friend up and fighting fit. Let him yell at you and bug you till he gets his way. Yes, he will make you confess you broke that plate, and get you yelled at too, but then he will also free you from endless days worrying about ‘what will happen when mama finds out?’. And that extra tight hug she gave you saying she was glad you owned up – totally worth it, wasn’t it?

Listen to your little friend with all your heart because honesty, complete honesty is, and will always be, the best policy.

Love and hugs always,

Ma.

#Microblog Mondays – Just Do it!

#Microblog Mondays – Just Do it!

Friends who have been dropping by would know for the past year or so I’ve been hooked to Zumba. I’ve blogged about it often. I can never get over the miracle that I can survive a dance class. Nor can my friends, it seems, since they use every opportunity to pull my leg about it, in a way only comfortable old friends can.

One day after a specially good session I happened to remark, ‘This track I can dance to, in my sleep’. And that was how I put my big fat foot right into my mouth. A little later, when the instructor asked ‘Who knows Bailando and can lead the class today?” I heard a bunch of voices chorusing out a name – yeah mine!

Damn!! Damn!! Damn!! was all my blank mind went while I tried to hide away wishing I would completely disappear. It’s one thing to stand in my inconspicuous corner and do my own thing and quite another to stand right there before the class. It’s like saying just because you can chat up friends you can deliver a speech – not quite the same thing huh?

This here was my nightmare.

However before I could protest, the music had struck up and there I was blundering my way through, forgetting steps I’d done scores of time, steps I knew well, steps that I did pretty well in my small corner! I wish I could say I was suddenly magically perfect like in the movies. I wasn’t. Let me just say I survived and wasn’t booed away. The girls are too sweet.

The best thing though is, that the dreadful dread is gone….. for ever. I might never do it again. But I know I can do it, I did it once, right? That’s so hugely liberating.

We shy off from doing things – fun challenging things – making a huge deal out of them. Sometimes we fear we will be less that perfect, sometimes we’re victims of our own self-image.

Breaking through all of that is freedom.

So from my new-found perspective I can tell you to dance that dance, sing that song, deliver that speech, run that race, get that LBD. Draw, paint, try a trek, take a dip in the sea – as long as you’re having fun and can laugh at yourself, chances are you’ll get by pretty well.

Don’t wait to be earth shattering. Don’t wait to be perfect. Don’t postpone joy.

Linking to for the letter D for ABC Wednesday

And to Mel’s # Microblog Mondays where we’re discussing superpowers. Do drop by.
When friendships change

When friendships change

Dear girls who play with my son,

Last time I found H in a scrambling match with one of you and took him to task. You remember that I’m sure. A few days back I found two of you again, walking away. One of you was in tears and the other, outraged on her behalf, for the same reason – a scuffle with a boy during a game, where her t-shirt got pulled.

Okay I’ll admit my first thought was, “No, not H again!” It wasn’t.

But that’s not the issue at all. The point is, there are some things you will need to understand when you play together. In a game that needs some amount of physicality, when one of the children is supposed to catch another (and count to ten while the other tries to free himself/herself), t-shirts will get pulled, dresses will fly, hands will be twisted, feet will be stepped upon.

You know the rules, right? You are the ones who put them in place along with the others. You cannot then, in all fairness, start to cry, or get angry or quit the game either. You will simply come across as a bad loser.

You’re growing up, I know. You’re becoming more conscious of yourself and the changes in you and that’s just how it should be. But don’t let it take away the fun from your playtime. Don’t let it take away from your friendships.

Soon you’ll all be grown up and out in the world – working, competing, playing and socialising with men, on an equal footing. Each time a situation like this crops up you cannot break into tears, you cannot get outraged and worse, you cannot withdraw. 

You cannot.

If you do, just like in the playground, be prepared to be laughed at, or what’s much much worse, patronised by the others. You’ll hate it, take my word for that. Just as you will be left out of the game now, you will be shut out from the more exciting challenging opportunities to learn and grow and prove yourself.

Most importantly you’ll miss out on many many good friendships. Men do make for wonderful companions – easy, uncomplicated, fun. I say that from experience. And that would be truly sad.

For now, I’ll repeat the five simple rules I keep telling H – 
1. Set the rules before the game – Make it clear what is acceptable and what is not. Do be reasonable and practical.
2. Dress for the playground – Wear sensible clothes: shorts, tights, jeans, running shoes.
3. Be prepared for some amount of rough play – It can be fun once you give up your ‘I’m a girl I shouldn’t do this’ self image.
4. Accept no nonsense – But don’t be over sensitive.
5. Assess the situation, the intention – An unintentional pull of the T shirt is NOT a bad touch.

Remember these rules. They work in the grown up world too – Set the rules, dress sensibly, be prepared to fight rough, accept no nonsense and asses an intention fairly.

For now, stop being girls or boys – just be friends.

Love and hugs
Mom of H.
Linking to ABC Wednesday , after a long long time, for the letter C for Change. It’s good to be back here.