Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thinking about lying

I have said several times that Evan is truthful. On one hand this is accurate. He tells me things, even things I would rather not know. Of course, he does lie. We all do some, but I have been pondering why it is that Evan's lies don't bother me.

This is going to sound odd -- it is because Evan's lies are not deceptive.

Evan lies when I say things like, "Do you have any homework?" or "Did you finish the paper you said you had to do this weekend?" He lies because he believes that 1) he will have the homework or whatever done by the time that it needs to be done and 2) it isn't really any of my business exactly how far along he is.

I confess I have told similar lies myself. A friendly person at church asks, "How is your sabbatical project going?" And I say, "It's moving right along." I don't say, "I am so sick and tired of this stupid critical thinking handbook. I keep thinking I am either talking down to the students or else going over their heads. I can't come up with any decent examples. Frankly I have spent more time writing and reading blogs than I have working on it." It seems inappropriate to confess all my aggravations to someone who was just asking a polite question -- besides, my frustrations and fears of failures are not their business.

I don't feel deceived by Evan because as soon as the question is out of my mouth I remember my initial agreement with him: he would tell me when he needed help (and he does) and I would not pry.

The other two boys were different.

One was a chronic, non-malicious liar. At times it seemed that nearly everything he said was not quite true. I knew where it came from. He had lived most of his life with a sick mother. When she asked him how things were going she really did not want the truth. She was too ill to help him and what she wanted was for him to spin tales about how wonderful his life was. His lies were frustrating because they were often so unnecessary. I often thought that where I had to decide to lie, he had to decide to tell the truth. His automatic response to a question was to say what he thought the person listening to him wanted to hear. Given that different people in his life (who talked to each other) wanted to hear different things, his lies were typically easy to catch.

The most deceptive one is the one who absolutely refuses to tell lies.

He was difficult because he thought so carefully about how to deceive me. He would give me a piece of truth that was related to the question that I asked but which would lead to a completely different conclusion.

Some I could see through at the time. I would tell him that I had called him on his cell phone several times when he was AWOL and it made me very angry that he had not replied. "Sorry. The phone was on silent and I did not hear it ring." Translation: I had it on vibrate and did not answer it when I saw it was you calling. I got better at understanding his code and found myself coaching the social worker. She would report that they had a really good meeting and had talked about his goals. She said that committed himself to good and reasonable goals.. "What exactly did he say?" "Let's see...I suggested that ____ was something he could accomplish and he said that that was a very good idea." "Did he say that he would do it or that it was a good idea to do it?" "No...Wait...Do you mean...No!" "Yep. He played you."

Of course there were many times when he played me and I did not notice.

So the point...Well mostly I am just rambling (i.e. avoiding working on the critical thinking handbook), but I am also comforting myself. Hubby insists that I not talk to Evan about the on-line psychic thing for at least a week. I have made my case and now I need to back off and let him go through the process. Hubby is right...So I am stewing.

Next: Evan's Mom

1 comment:

  1. What a great analysis. Thanks. I think I may begin sorting lies. Of course omissions are lies of sorts but I agree with you.


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