Jeff had to work late last night so I knew I was on my own for dinner with the kids. I left work and drove across town to my suburb and then drove across the suburb to where the kids' school is located. We stay very involved in behavior at school. I want the kids to learn from early on that home and school cooperate and that expectations remain the same and that the home standard is possibly higher than that in the "real world." Usually, I get a report from the after care workers. If there's been a serious issue or if things are just a little off, they let me know.
Yesterday, it was different.
I asked Teagan how her day was. The have a system where they earn hole punches on a card. Great day, 2 punches. Mostly good day, 1 punch. Not so great day, no punches. Teagan tells me she got 1 punch. I ask what she could have done differently so that she could have earned 2 punches. Normally, the answer is a lot of evasion and suddenly loss of memory. This time, she straight up told me she tattled. It's one of the two behaviors she's working on this year. I was impressed that she confessed.
I asked Zach about his day and asked to see his "wow pockets." The kids can earn green wow cards when they get "caught" doing something good. They can also get red reminders when there is a problem and they need a little extra reinforcement. His regular classroom- all green. Aftercare pocket- red card. I asked him what happened that he got a red card. He totally fessed up to what he did. Normally, there is a shrug, a grin and an "I don't know" before he runs away.
My kids told the truth.
Normally, red cards and tattling would mean no out to dinner or treats. But I was so proud of them both for telling the truth. And I was proud of myself for being positive with them about it. The school handled the consequences when the issue happened- that wasn't my job.
We made a valient attempt at choosing a restaurant but there just wasn't going to be consensus. So we came home and I catered to each of them- I went into short order cook mode and made them what they wanted, what would make them happy. Zach had peanut butter and jelly, applesauce, and ovaltine. Teagan had some steamed shumai dumplings I'd picked up at Trader Joe's followed by a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Both kids ended the meal with an organic Trader Joe's toaster pastry for dessert.
I had to think on my feet and adjust plans on the fly several times. But it was worth it. My kids proved to me that there is trust in our relationship. It felt like a huge thing- like there was this sense of "we get it." Being honest with people isn't about confessing and taking a punishment all the time. Being honest is just about being genuine. I think I model that for my kids but I think I can do that more often, too.
Have you experienced that in important relationships? Being honest- maybe about something you are scared to share or fear the consequences of- and the outcome being a true teaching moment or something that brings you closer to that person?