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When lying is a means as much as an end

After last weeks standathon over lying, we seem to be at it again. Over a question of homework the other night, Tio handed me a line of crap. In response, I told him he couldn't go to the first dance of the season. It wasn't a big lie but it rolled off his tongue without thought. While given a couple of opportunities to recind he stood by it.

Dance night came tonight and Tio wasn't too upset that he couldn't go until he heard that Kit was going alone. That frosted him which gave leverage for Kit to tease him about. He came upstairs to complain that Kit was rubbing it in. I didn't do a thing about it which had him really pissed. So over supper I thought I'd test it.

"Kit," I said, "think carefully about how you answer this. Were you teasing Tio about not being able to go to the dance?"
He pondered.
"You know that he is staying home because he lied, right?"
Kit said he understood.
"So, were you teasing him?"
Another pause and he said, "No."

I couldn't believe it! He knew that Tio lost the dance for lying and here he was lying. He very quickly changed his answer to yes when he realized his mistake. But his first impulse was to lie, worried that he'd get in more trouble if he said he was rubbing it in.
These are deep waters. Tio lied because he wanted me to think he'd started homework at school and left it there and Kit lied to cover something equally unimportant up when the stakes were so high about lying itself it could cost him his first big dance. I was dumbfounded and realized that there is a lot of work to be done to get them to understand the value of trust and honesty. It isn't really about short term morals, of which they have little, but has to be about the consequences of not earning trust of the people in their world.

We talked about it a bit more but all they were concentrating on was whether Kit had blown the dance or not. I was in the rock vs. hardspot conundrum because the dance was an important step for Kit and really had nothing to do with the ingrained sense of mistrust they both have of telling the truth. Also, this wasn't going to suddenly go away and they'd be honest, halo capped young men just because they missed this dance. We have a lot of work to do.

"Okay," I said to Kit, "your lie just bought Tio a ticket back to the dance. We'll work on this later."