Since my preschooler’s trusting heart does not yet think in furtive terms, he thought nothing of leaving his pack of bubble gum on the top of his hamper for all the world to see rather than hiding it inside a sock, buried beneath a beach towel, high on a shelf in the closet—you know, the way normal people do.
So last month when my sixth-grade son Kyler helped himself to his brother’s Hubba Bubba, Trevyn did not take kindly to news of this inside job. When confronted, Kyler apologized and admitted his wrongdoing. He even offered a solution to curtail the chance of recidivism.
“I have no willpower when it comes to gum,” he told his sibling. “You’ve gotta hide that stuff from me.”
The following afternoon while Kyler was still in school, I took Trevyn to the store and let him pick out a treat to replace his stolen gum. I told Trevyn that he could either tell Kyler about the candy and share it with him or not mention it to his brother and eat it himself. The only thing I didn’t want him doing was bragging about it to Kyler and refusing to share because then I knew a fight would ensue.
Trevyn thought about it for a few minutes and decided it was best to hide his sugar-coated gummy worms. He then spent a good 30 minutes in his bedroom, scouting the perfect hiding spot—inside his toy barn, behind a tote, wedged in the back corner of his closet.
As the time drew near for Kyler to get home from school, Trevyn began freaking out about the subterfuge.
“I know he’s gonna find my candy and eat it! I just know he will!” Trev insisted, tears welling up in his eyes.
“No, because he won’t go looking for candy he doesn’t know exists,” I explained.
But Trevyn was convinced that his bro had stealthy intentions.
Two seconds after Kyler got off the bus, Trevyn ran up to his brother and announced, all in one breath, “I got candy! It’s gummy worms! You can’t have any! Here, take some!”
I’d never seen anything like it. He broke faster than delicate china hitting a concrete floor. I think it’s safe to say he wouldn’t last long in an interrogation.
But I must admit that the pure honesty was precious to witness.
Just last week I saw it again when Trevyn announced to his big bro, “Guess what? Mommy and I painted pottery today and I made you a Christmas gift.”
“That’s cool,” Kyler said.
“I can’t tell you what I made….It’s a whale.”
I chuckled at my son’s propensity to blurt. He probably inherited it from me. When I was five, my mom bought my dad a brief case for Christmas and she told me, “Now, this is a surprise for Daddy. That means we must keep it a secret. So don’t say a word to Daddy about his special present, okay?”
“Yup,” I nodded. “Got it.”
Ten minutes later, my dad walked through the door. I sprinted to him, flung my arms around his neck, and announced, “Daddy! You’ll never guess what Mommy bought you for Christmas! And don’t guess a brief case.”
Dad chuckled, too. Because five-year-olds are great for a laugh; they’re just not the best at holding things in. And I kinda love that about them.
Note: This article first appeared on the Huffington Post on December 17, 2015.