I'd like to think I can, especially with my kiddos but truth is, I just don't know.
Yesterday presented me with a challenge to see if I could, indeed, spot a liar in my midst. I am still shaking my head and wondering. You see, Lucas is in trouble ~ again. He claims he didn't do it. He claims others are blaming him for something he didn't do but the problem is there are many saying he did do it and only one saying he didn't do it. The one voice saying, vehemently, that he didn't do it is Lucas.
What he did is a bit irrelevant to the story I want to tell. But I can assure you it had nothing to do with drugs, alcohol, stealing, weaponry, threats, bullying, destruction of property or anything illegal...it had everything to do with 13 year old boy stupidity. Besides being an aside to the story, what he did is not my story to tell. It's Lucas' and I don't want to put anything out there that will cause him pain.
I will tell the story from the beginning ~ meaning there is background on this and I will do what I can to fill you in.
Yesterday, Lucas was called in to the assistant principal's office for the third time this year. All of his infractions have been, what we consider, relatively minor offenses...also known as stupid boy pranks. Again, there was nothing illegal in any of what he did. Disrespectful and moronic? Yes. Illegal or destructive? No. All three things were things we all did as kids...and most of us probably never got caught for. Lucas hasn't been so fortunate. His first infraction, squirting the contents of a juice box all over the bus, was stupid, sticky and resulted in an in school suspension. It also resulted in a major loss of privileges here at home. The second infraction was similar in nature...just moronic tendencies of a 13 year old boy coming out in spades. It also resulted in an in school suspension and more loss of privileges here at home. Yesterday, I got the call home from the assistant principal and I knew. I knew Lucas screwed up again. The principle went on to tell me a tale of Lucas and his group of "friends." Some of Lucas' friends were caught in the act of behaving stupidly. They were called into the principle's office to give their account of the story. In questioning these other boys the principle asked who else was involved in the stupidity (my word, not the principle's) and they implicated Lucas, one of Lucas' "friends" told the principle Lucas did it to him. Lucas was called in to give his version, his denial was emphatic and vehement but in the end the principle believed the other boys' accounts of the story and called me. The principal told me, point blank, he believes Lucas is lying about his involvement in what happened with this group of boys. Lucas will pay a heavy price both at school and at home. He will serve an out of school suspension followed by an unspecified amount of hard labor here at home.
We do not take screwing up lightly. We don't take being lied to lightly. We have the bar of standards set incredibly high for our kids and when they screw up they pay a heavy price here at home.
Last summer, Zach and his friend were caught nearly red handed doing something they shouldn't have been doing and instead of coming clean about what happened Zach decided to lie. The truth came out and there was hell to pay for Zach. He was in solitary confinement for six weeks...no phone, no internet, no friends, no nothing...all summer long. Zach's punishment would not have been nearly as severe if it hadn't been for the lying. Lying to us, right to our faces, is what got him in the world of hurt in which Zach lived last summer. Lucas was a witness to all everything, and I do mean everything, that Zach had to hear from us.
So when Lucas came home yesterday, swearing he had nothing to do with what happened I stopped and listened, hard. I watched his body language. I watched his eyes. I watched every facet of everything he did. And while I don't believe he is entirely innocent, I also don't believe his involvement is at the level the principal is saying. I was there as Lucas looked me square in the eye and said, more vehemently than I could ever imagine coming out of Lucas, "I didn't do it." His eyes didn't budge from mine. He didn't look down and to the side as he spoke. His hands didn't move upward to touch his face. He didn't lick his lips nor did his blinking pattern become more pronounced. All signs of someone telling the truth. But I'm no body language expert so a part of me wonders if he is a great actor and he is guilty. A part of me does believe, though, that he is a more little innocent than guilty. He watched what Zach went through last summer because of his lie and I don't think he would go looking to have that same kind of punishment inflicted on him. As his mom, I so want to believe him but I also don't want to get snookered, taken for a ride and left more disappointed, knowing trusting him is off the table. So now, he will have to face the consequences for hanging out with a crowd that is taking him down a bad path.
Whether is he guilty or innocent is of little consequence as far as the school is concerned. He will pay the price for his misdeed by serving an out of school suspension. He will pay a price here at home as well. He is now in solitary confinement...facebook is gone. His phone is gone. His iPod is gone. He will have to write me a five page essay on using common sense and the negative effects lying. He will have to achieve an A on his paper before he will get one of his things back and then he will have more work from there. He has trust to build back up and he has a lot of work ahead of him.
I truly wish I could spot a liar...for the love of my children.