Do you ever tell little white lies? While driving school bus a few years ago, whenever I caught kids misbehaving, most would pull the politician card and deny any wrong doing. On rare occasions some children would surprise me.
One morning, a sandwich whizzed past my right ear and stuck to the front windshield. I looked up at the student mirror and saw numerous fingers pointing toward a third-grader named Tyler sitting about six rows behind me. I liked this boy. He was polite, respectful, and had a good sense of humor.
I pulled the bus over to the side of the road, pointed toward the sandwich still stuck to the windshield and asked the boy if he did indeed throw that sandwich at me.
He stood and said, “No, Mr. Carlson, I wasn’t throwing my sandwich at you. I was trying to throw it at the kid sitting right behind you.”
While trying not to laugh, I explained how it was my job to get them all to school safely and that having a sandwich thrown past me was very distracting. I gave him a verbal warning and I thought that would be the end of it.
The next morning, I just happened to look in my student mirror just in time to see Tyler throw another sandwich at the same kid sitting behind me. His accuracy was much improved and the boy caught the sandwich. I pulled the bus over once more to the side of the road.
“Tyler!” I yelled. “We had this discussion yesterday morning about how dangerous it is to distract me while I’m driving. This will be two days in a row that you’ve lost your lunch.”
Again, he stood and grimly said, “I’m sorry Mr. Carlson. I keep telling my Mom that I don’t like bologna sandwiches but she keeps putting them in my lunch.” He grinned then added, “But it’s okay, because Austin caught it this time.”
I’ll always remember this story not because it was so funny…well, maybe I will remember it for that, but I’ll also remember it because Tyler was so refreshingly honest. We live in a world where lying has become so commonplace that I was pleasantly caught off guard by this little boys honest confession. Let me now share with you my own confession as a lesson to what can happen when we don’t tell the truth.
I have an addiction to soda pop, especially Mountain Dew. For years Karen has been after me to quit. After an annual wellness check-up a few years ago, my doctor told me to loose weight and to my dismay strongly suggested I quit drinking pop….especially Mountain Dew.
It was very difficult but I was able to quit the habit….at home. While away at work I still drank one or two bottles a day. Whenever Karen would ask me how I was doing I would lie and tell her how victorious I was over my addition with carbonated, flavored, sugar water.
One day, Karen asked if I drank any pop that day at work. I said, “No.” She asked again and I responded with annoyance in my voice, “For the second time….no.” When she asked a third time, I lost it and won’t repeat what I angrily said back to her. She pulled a slip of paper out of her pocket and threw it at my feet. It was the receipt for the two bottles of Mountain Dew I had bought that day.
“Oh! What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” (1)
After a few minutes of self-reflection (or was it self-flagellation) I went to Karen with my tail between my legs and apologized. I don’t think this lie fell under the “little white” category and the nuclear fallout I experienced from Karen validated this conclusion. I resided in her dog house for quite awhile before I could gain back her trust. The perceived nagging I assumed I could dodge by lying was definitely not worth the pain I caused Karen.
As Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story….”
I had to give Tyler a written warning, which also meant a phone call from me to his mother, after dropping her son off at school. I explained to her what had happened the previous two mornings and she told me she would also have a talk with him.
The following morning I picked up Tyler at his bus stop and he cheerfully bounded up the steps and stopped before me. He opened up his lunch and excitedly pulled out a sandwich.
With a big grin on his face he held out the sandwich and exclaimed, “It’s peanut butter and jelly!”
(1) An excerpt from a poem written by Sir Walter Scott. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmion_(poem)
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