To lie or not to lie.  That is the question.

Lately, the insurgents have been living up to their name.  Yeah yeah yeah, to the person who tried to admonish me about calling them insurgents, don’t start with your lecture.  My children were born with a defiant spirit like the rest of mankind and bear their mother’s natural curiosity and urge to question everything.  Their guerrilla warfare started in the womb.

Well, anyone who knows the sweetest mean mommy knows I do not like to toe the party line, I do not do group-think very well and any beliefs I hold have had time to prove themselves true.  Of course my daughters have picked this up from me, and while I am usually patient in trying to explain the rationale behind why we do things a certain way, as opposed to merely laying down the law, this approach can be tiring.

Recently I tried to lecture Small daughter about lying, telling her that it not only really ticks me off, it erodes my trust in her and will bring her problems in future.  To drive my point home, I told the story of a woman I had listened to on BBC, who was sentenced to death for murder, based on the evidence of her 5-year-old stepson who claimed he had seen her stab her husband.  “Imagine if you told a lie that caused someone to be hanged?” I asked, hoping to trigger some empathy and underscore the potential consequences of this habit.

It is hard to hold this daughter’s attention at the best of times, and today was not one of those times.  Before I could finish the lecture, she spoke up. “But today when those men outside sent me to ask you for the landlord’s number, you claimed not to know it.  And you told me to tell them that daddy is the one who deals with the landlord.  That was a lie.”


I do have the landlord’s number but like all the other tenants, I was instructed not to share it, or how much rent we pay, with strangers. Rental tax things.  And no, there is no daddy at our house.  This was just a lame attempt to convince these strangers that there is big strong protective man in the house in case they were doing reconnaissance for a later break-in.

So how did I recover? By quickly changing direction.  “Use your head! You should not go about revealing everything about us.  Be like J.”  You see, Baby daughter, even as a tiny tot, would never tell strangers her name.

“Oh, cute baby, what is your name?”  She would put on her trademark Afande scowl and say, “I am not a baby.” If the stranger was not sufficiently discouraged by her security guard stance and insisted on knowing her name, she would provide the name of her long dead grandfather. And no, it is not one of the seven names she bears.  I got to know of this when I would hear the new neighbours call her by that name.  When I asked Small daughter about it, she said Baby daughter was refusing to tell people her real name.

So which is it – to lie or not to lie?  I could see Small daughter’s trademark smirk as I got tangled up in explanations about when it is OK to lie, security reasons, blah blah blah.  I even tried the “as sharp as a serpent and as gentle as a dove” scripture.  But my little lecture had already fallen flat.

Back to the drawing board.

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