pretty little liars

The truth is, Eleanor lies.

And every time she does it pulls on me.  I know it’s developmentally normal.  I know it isn’t a sign of weak moral character.  I know because I have researched it and read it and heard it.  I know my job isn’t to punish, but instead to not let the lie work.  A classic one that occurs weekly?  We are about to hop in the car for an extended ride and I’ll ask her to go to the bathroom.  ‘Oh, I just did.’  Instead of protracted she-said me-said that begins with no end in sight, I go around.  ‘Well, we’re going to go again.’  And we walk to the bathroom together.  The lie is nullified.

Children lie.  Especially early on, they do it for multiple reasons- to wish something into reality, to mold events to their preferred outcome, to change what happened.  I get it.  I understand.  I know what I need to do so this behavior is seen by her as ineffective and she shifts to other ways to relate.

And I can’t wait for this phase to be over.

Because the line between ‘trust and verify’ and assuming everything is false is exhaustingly thin.  I know to ‘go under’ the event and connect to her feelings.  Did a boy at school truly follow her every step during the entire recess?  Honestly, it doesn’t matter.  What she is trying to express is that she felt overwhelmed and closed-in by his closeness, regardless of how long it actually lasted.  So instead of spending energy trying to ascertain the duration of the stalking, we talk about how she felt, and what she wanted to do to feel safe.

I know.  I know all this.  And I still wish for a fortune teller’s crystal ball that allows me to see the future. To know that I am on the right path. A magic 8 ball that reassures me YES. {I’m not picky, I’d also happily accept: it is certain, it is decidedly so, without a doubt, yes-definitely, or you may rely on it.}

And then this weekend, it happened.  You see, it turns out lying is contagious.  There we were, in the bathroom, and Eleanor pointed at my inner thighs. ‘I don’t want to be rude, but why do they jiggle so much?’  Why, indeed?  I felt the pink of my cheeks turning from embarrassment to defensiveness, and deepening into shame.

And so I lied.

I looked right into her six-year-old trusting eyes and said:  I love my thighs.  A sentence I never thought I’d say. A sentence that I am now practicing into truth.

Because she’s exposed more and more every day to the lies of the beauty industry, it is time to hear the truth at home.  Truth in a big, loud, unapologetic voice letting her know she is beautiful.  I am beautiful.  Thighs and all.

Because lies become us.

I was told many years ago by a boyfriend that I was fat. Another said he wouldn’t go to a beach with me until I looked better in a bikini.  {I know, right? I could really pick them back in the day.} And I became those lies. I swallowed them as painful truth. Flat mirrors became warped Fun House reflections. Reflections that weren’t fun at all.  I did not see an accurate image, but a twisted version of me.

But the truth? Turns out, it will set us free.

And it has. After saying my very big, very jiggly lie, I have been completely surprised. Because over the past few days my thighs and I have reached a truce. A trust. A truth. It turns out, after all these years of loathing, I like them a whole lot more than I ever realized. Huh.

So what un-truth will you tell your children? And how does that lie become profoundly authentic for you? Something that gives you room to breathe? To accept yourself in a way you never have before? Truthfully, I’d love to know.  So keep me posted.


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