Truth be Told

Truth be Told

It’s funny how things come back around; even if the details had been forgotten from the first time it went by.  I spoke with my second oldest son this week.  He relayed an episode he just had with his oldest daughter who just recently turned thirteen years old. 

It seems that he was downstairs working on a project for a while.  He went upstairs to discover that the kitchen was smoky and cold.  It was cold because all of the windows were opened in spite of the calendar being turned to January.  A cakepan on the stove top held some kind of unrecognized disaster.  There was more evidence in the kitchen sink – a water soaked and half burned sheet of paper towel.  And out on the deck he noticed a scorched oven mitt. 

He found his daughter behind the closed door to her bedroom.  “What happened in the kitchen?”  Seemed like a perfectly understandable question.  “Oh, it got warm in there and I didn’t know how to adjust the thermostat, so I just opened the windows.”  Seemed like a rehearsed and unsatisfying answer.

My son cleaned up the kitchen and waited for his daughter to volunteer a more plausible explanation.  After two hours of waiting, he went back and knocked again on the bedroom door.   It was time for the prosecution to lay out the evidence, so my son explained everything he observed in the kitchen.  The defense was silent; no doubt she was still trying to let go of the hope she had for the last two hours that her first explanation had succeeded. 

Then my son said that he told her the ‘blue van cigarette lighter’ episode.  That’s what I had forgotten, but when he said blue van and cigarette lighter it came back to me.  It was years ago.  We were assembling our four young children to head out somewhere.  This same son, probably about nine or ten at the time, had headed out the door first.  As my wife and I herded the rest of the children out the door we heard the piercing cry.  Said son came flying out of the van holding his hand and tears were running down his face.  “What happened?”  It seemed like a perfectly understandable question.  “I don’t know”, came the all-too-brief and unhelpful answer.  But one look at the finger that he held out was all I needed.  I rushed him to the sink and rinsed it with cold water while I got some ice.  After a bit, although I was sure that it hurt, it wasn’t blistering.  The tears stopped.  A bandage was applied.

I asked again about what happened.  No answer.  I then explained the evidence to my son.  His finger was burned.  The burn mark was perfectly round.  He was in the van.  The only thing in the van that would burn him and leave a mark like that was the cigarette lighter in the van.  He must have been messing around with the lighter and burned himself.  Rats.  Even though a story had eluded him, even if he did come up with something now, it was no use – dad knew. 

My son’s daughter listened to the story.  She absorbed the lesson.  She finally told all – wanted to treat the family to a cake, but the pan slipped when she was placing it in the oven and the batter spilled over in the oven.  She thought of cleaning up the spilled batter with some paper towel – not thinking that it would catch fire on the heating element.  She grabbed at the burning paper towel, which singed the oven mitt.  That all led to smoke and a few seconds of panic.  She opened the windows in the hope that would clear the smoke quickly.  She was thinking about how to get rid of the rest of the evidence, but then she heard her dad coming up the stairs, so she quickly sought refuge in her bedroom and hoped somehow that he wouldn’t notice.  But he did. 

She learned the hard way, through experience, that parents almost always know what happened before they ask their children the question.  They just want to give the child the opportunity to trust the parent’s love for them enough to tell the truth.  Parents and God both work that way. 

"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are." 1John 3:1 

[The names were changed (actually omitted) to protect the innocent, and the not so innocent.]

His Peace <><

Deacon Dan

Photo by Robert Eklund on Unsplash