Dealings with a thirteen year old get testy at times. Believe me, the responsibility does not lie solely in the lap of said thirteen year old.

Yes, I’ve heard the wisdom of not asking questions that set children up to choose between lying or not. Does it stop me from asking questions that way? No. Yes, I’ve heard the fruitlessness of lecturing. Does it stop me from lecturing? No. Yes, I’ve heard ‘choose your battles.’ Does it stop me from choosing every one? No.

“But I asked you if you were working on your Math and you said you were and you weren’t. You’ve lost the right to sit where I can’t see your laptop screen (Thank you so much to the Hopkinton school system for placing those distraction machines in the laps of young learners since 6th grade!). Sit over on the blue couch so I can see over your shoulder.” (He grudgingly heads over.) “And why when I asked you if you were working on your Math did you say you were when you weren’t? Be impeccable with your word. There is no honor in doing and saying things so you can get away with stuff.” (Like I never did when I was his age. I lean over the back of the couch for added emphasis.) “You’re hurting yourself and you’re hurting us who want to trust you.”

Errant son looks me straight in the eye, “So I told a lie. It’s not the end of the world. You make it sound like it’s the end of the world.”

He has no idea.

So the next morning I hear a friend talk about how he used to talk to his kids and how he tries to now. He asks himself (another thing I’ve heard many times), “Would I rather be right or would I rather be happy?”

My turn to choose.