Nosy or Normal: How Do You Know If Your Kid Is Telling The Truth?

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At school pick-up the other day my husband was approached by another dad with a rather disturbing question.

“Did you know that Timmy and Richie were in the principal’s office the other day?”

Caught off guard, my husband responded, “No, what happened?” The other dad replied simply that they were goofing off in the bathroom. 

End. Of. Story. Conversation ended. 

My husband didn’t push further because he was stunned. Me? I would have been firing off questions like a sniper and marching my ass into the principal’s office for answers, right there on the spot.

After he finished his homework my husband tried to get some information out of my son. My husband prefaced the talk with the assurance that he would not get in trouble, because he didn’t want the tears to start or my son to start screaming “I don’t know!” and was hoping that if approached the right way, he would just come clean.

The conversation was as difficult as trying to shuck a clam. My son didn’t remember, he was uncomfortable with the conversation and my husband didn’t push.  After a few futile attempts, my husband was satisfied – deciding that if our son was misbehaving in a serious way, we would have been contacted.

Me? Not good enough. 

I wanted to know more.  Goofing off in the bathroom wasn’t a satisfactory answer for me. Was he spraying water around on other kids? Did he clog up the toilets so badly that they were overflowing rapidly and the janitor had to be called? Did he flush someone’s foot down the bowl? What happened?!

After dinner, I tried to dig a little deeper. I didn’t want to interrogate him but I so much wanted to interrogate him; I wanted to hold him down until he told me all the gory details.  But water-boarding a seven-year-old was probably too severe, and who needs the hassle of CPR, am I right?  

Nevertheless, I started to question him on what had happened. I made promises of not getting upset; I told him there would be no TV unless he told us the truth. Basically dangled every trick in the book to get more information and I was somewhat successful – until the “I don’t knows!” started.  

I pieced together some of the story:  My son said he was trying to get away from Timmy who was pulling on his shirt, so he locked himself in a stall. Then Timmy was banging on the door when the principal walked in and he sent them both to his office, where they were told that the next time they behaved that way, the school would call home. And that was it.

But there were still some holes (gaps, really). My son knew only that it happened during recess. He didn’t remember the day. He said that his teacher hadn’t been notified and that he wasn’t fooling around in the bathroom. I’m not quite sure if he’s telling the truth; his nose didn’t grow, I didn’t administer a lie detector test and I don’t have any truth serum to shove down his throat. 

But as a parent, isn’t it my job to get to the bottom of things so I can help my son grow into a productive member of society? Am I the only one who’s concerned about this? Or am I overreacting?  

I’ve never been in this situation before, and I was afraid that if I called the other boy’s parents it would become a case of “he said, she he said” and frankly, is it worth it over some hi-jinks in a bathroom?  Because I’m a nosy Virgo, I finally decided to write a note to the teacher when they return from this short holiday. 

In the meantime, I just Googled truth serum recipes.

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