Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pretty Little Liar

My daughter. My only child. The day she was born was truly the best day of my life. Before I became a mom, I never gave much thought to the need to give my life for another person. I suppose one hopes that such a test will never, you know, come up. However, once I saw my baby girl, I knew: she is the one for whom I would trade in my beating heart if doing so would ensure that hers would continue to thump-thump away. She makes me happy. She is smart, beautiful, funny, feisty, and full of life.  She is everything I'd hoped my child would be.

However, she also possesses a couple of traits that were not specifically on my wish list: lying and cheating. Oh, and stealing. It's kind of a weird feeling, this realization that your baby has become a full-fledged person with character flaws and ulterior motives and whatnot.

A couple months ago, she stole her dad's tip money off the bed and shoved it in a container in her room. He was headed to the bank that day so it didn't take long for him to notice it. Needless to say, she was in big trouble over that. When I asked her why she did it, she started to say something along the lines of "You have money so you can buy what you want. I just wanted to be able to do that, too."

I cut her off pretty quickly and told her that when she does the wrong thing or makes a bad decision, it's important that she take ownership of her actions. I let her know that "I'm sorry, but . . . " is never a good response. If you're going to apologize to someone and then explain why you're not really at fault . . . well, then it's not an apology.

Her dad and I lectured her at length about the stolen money. If memory serves, we also removed a privilege of some sort. We usually take away the Kindle for some period of time as that seems to get to her the most. We've tried rewards, punishments, and everything in between.  We were so upset about the money that I think she actually did get the message.  Plus, I have pointed out to her a few about a hundred thousand times that if she would just do her chores, she'd have spending money. No chores = no money.

Since the money-stealing incident, we've had some minor issues.  She smuggles stuff to school in her backpack (stuff that doesn't belong at school).  Sometimes I catch it, sometimes not. I've found hand lotion, Squinkies, cash, hair elastics, gum, and a gazillion other forms of contraband.  I know a lot of it comes down to peer pressure and her desire to impress her friends. I also know that this behavior is normal. That doesn't mean that it's enjoyable for the parents, however. The sneakiness in general really bugs us. Then she throws in a lie or two and we're about fit to be tied.

One ongoing issue is with her lunch account at school. I put money into her account so that she can buy lunch. She also wants to participate in a milk program at school.  The participating kids get a milk break in their classroom at some point in the day. Now, I really did not want her in this program. I don't really buy into the whole milk-is-good-for-you thing. We use almond milk at home. I just don't find dairy milk to be a necessity.  You know those studies that talk about the important health benefits of dairy milk? Next time you see one, check to see who funded/sponsored the research. There are countless sources of protein such as beans, broccoli, etc.  But, I digress.  I could tell that she wanted to be in the milk program because her friends are. So, I relented.  The milk comes out of her lunch fund.  Because the school lunches usually have meat in them, she only eats the school lunch about once a week. So, in theory, the most that would come out of the lunch fund in a given week would be $4.25.

I've noticed, however, that her lunch money account seems to become depleted awfully quickly.  The food services robot calls me far too frequently and leaves me a voicemail telling me that my child has a low account balance.  I've been questioning the kid about it.  "What have you been buying?"

She gives me her best mama-you-so-crazy look and shakes her head. Finally, I decided to dig around on the lunch money website to see if they offered any reporting. Well, lo and behold, I can pull up a report that shows me everything my child has purchased for a two-week period. The little liar has been buying breakfast at school.  Needless to say, we do feed her breakfast at home as well. Is she a hobbit?  Does she need two breakfasts?

Kids, I tell you. So sneaky!  Her dad and I have not figured out what to do about this one, but I don't think we can overlook the lying. Or at least the lying by omission.  I think we are going to freeze the account and see how that goes.

If she thinks that not being able to buy milk is too embarrassing, the child has not seen anything yet. 

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