What is it about kids that makes them so honest? Is it because they haven’t learned the benefits or– more importantly– the consequences of lying? Imagine a world where everybody said whatever they thought, whenever they wanted, without regard to impact. Have any of you ever witnessed something or heard something that made you stop and take a moment for self-reflection? Yeah, me too. Except my moments of self-reflection are usually because of some brutal honesty on the part of my kids. Story time!
The family and I got all dressed up and made our customary bi-weekly trip to The Walmart for restocking of our depleted wares. We perused the aisles, filling most of our basket with things that weren’t on our shopping list. I mean, honestly, who can pass up a battery-powered handheld mister/fan combo when it’s on sale? We eventually ended up in the clearance aisle. The clearance aisle is kind of like doing a scavenger hunt in a hobo camp– you’re going to find something that you think is pretty cool but somebody else thinks is useless and/or disgusting. Orange Dreamsicle Oreos anyone?
Halfway through our trip down the aisle, my four-year-old spotted a stuffed Santa Claus toy stashed behind an As Seen On TV Shamwow. She dug the toy out from its hiding spot and studied it. Then she looked at me. She alternated between studying the toy and studying me, no hint on her face as to what was about to come out of her mouth. Then she blurted out, “Daddy, he’s got white in his hair just like you.” Whew! I thought she was getting ready to talk about the similarities between our bellies that resemble bowls of jellies. Still, though, the hair comment was uncalled for. Accurate, but uncalled for. If she were a grown man we’d be going fisticuffs. But she’s a four-year-old and couldn’t have seen anything wrong with the comparison she had just made.
Kids are the purest form of conversation, even when the chronological events of their stories are fabrications of their still-developing minds. Listening to a 45-minute story from my two and half year old is a riveting adventure that covers princesses, dinosaurs, ghosts, monsters, and then circles back around to dinosaurs. In their minds, these events are vivid and real. And they want you to experience the exciting wonderment the same way they did.
Imagine if we had the same types of rules for honesty and story-telling that our kids do.
Wife: Do you have any idea how loud you were snoring?
Husband: No. How loud?
Wife: Loud enough that I was trying to figure out how to make your impending death look like an accident.
Wife: Honey do these pants make my butt look fat?
Husband: No, dear. Your butt makes your butt look fat.
Husband [after sexy time]: Was it good for you?
Wife: Not even close.
Maybe honesty isn’t the best policy when it comes to grown-ups. How about we run with the story-time before bed idea? Not for the kids, but for us grown ups.
Kids live in a world that I personally would love to live in myself. Everything is new. Genuine reactions that you and I take for granted every day are a source of constant discovery for children. And the reactions they witness are so genuine because they’ve usually said something equally genuine to cause them.
Hold onto that stuff as long as you can. There’s going to be a day in the not too distant future when your kids not only learn to lie, but they get pretty good at it. Believe it or not, you’re going to miss the brutal honesty of trying on clothes in front of a four-year old and her saying you look like the can of biscuits right before mommy pops it open. Or wheeling your kids through the store and having them announce, in succession and at a high volume, that they all need to poop.
The best part of an honest child? When they climb up into your lap, lay their head on your chest, and tell you they love you. That’s a truth you shouldn’t ever forget.