Once upon a time I dreamt of being a concert pianist. It was short lived dream. Its short lifespan was largely due to a fierce and terrifying Yugoslavian piano teacher. I was 5 and she spoke little English. We hated each other on sight.
My little fingers wouldn’t stretch to reach the keys and my feet dangled helplessly inches above the pedals. She would yell at me in her home language and swat my icy blue fingers. I did the only thing I thought I could. I stopped going to her lessons.
The charade went on until parent-teacher day when I had hoped my parents would give the witch a miss. They didn’t. I cowered behind the legs of a piano in a rehearsal room dreading the confrontation. Instead my mother emerged in tears, my father looking grim. They didn’t care that I hated piano lessons. They cared that I didn’t tell them how much I hated them or that the teacher terrified me witless. I learnt a valuable lesson that day.
Today I learnt another one. The karate Sensei informed us that our son has not been attending his lessons. This was troubling. Karate has always been a favourite of his and his non-appearance was a matter of concern. Even more so was the fact that when I casually asked him if he went to karate today he answered in the affirmative.
We then began a general conversation about truth and lies.
Me: “Can anyone tell me what a lie is?”
Small boy aged 6: “A lie is when you don’t tell the truth.”
Me: “Great, and are lies good or bad?”
Small girl aged 5: “Bad.”
Me: “Why are they bad?”
Small boy aged 6: “Because you can be found out?”
I guess so. Pretty decent reasoning, if not quite the answer I was going for.
Me: “Why do people lie?”
Small boy aged 9: “Because they want to fit in.”
That’s a pretty insightful answer.
The conversation also garnered other reasons:
• Because they are scared
• Because they don’t want to do something
• Because they don’t want to let someone down
• Because they know they have done something bad
This is when I came in for the kill.
Me: “So, I am going to ask you a question, will you tell me the truth?”
Small boy aged 9: “Yes.”
Me: “Did you go to karate today?”
Small boy aged 9: “Yes.”
Me: “I am going to ask you again. I know the answer; I want you to tell me the truth. Did you go to karate today?”
Small boy aged 9 quietly, “No.”
Small boy aged 9: “I got distracted.”
ARGH! Small boys can get distracted by a bee buzzing past them, but try and distract them from a game of soccer or an episode of Phineas and Ferb and they showed remarkable powers of focus and selective hearing. I once took both of them to have their ears tested, labouring under the fear that both boys were hard of hearing, 800 bucks each later I was informed that their hearing was fine and their selective hearing highly developed. Thanks for that.
At least I managed to ascertain that he still loves karate, but that he needs to carry a loud and annoying alarm clock. He also learnt that parents are strange and sneaky beings who know stuff. Both boys have to go to the Sensei on Monday and apologise. The Sensei will then pronounce his judgement, which may well be exclusion from grading this term… or perhaps 100 push-ups. I love the push-ups as a disciplinary action. I use them often. My boys will be very fit by the time they get to 18.
I am very proud of myself and the way I approached this situation. I think I deserve a Noddy badge. I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t get angry. I engaged and asked them to come to their own conclusion. I think I did pretty well. Of course, the next time he skips karate will be a different story. Them I’m going Ninja on his ass and he’ll see the value in knowing how to protect yourself from one seriously pissed off female. It’s a life lesson.