It was also a most life-enhancing one for me.
Money was tight with us. We were still renting and although both of us were working, our responsibilities extended beyond our household. My baby girl was in prep school at the time and that was a fee we also had to cover. Her birth father was to help with that but as with many other things he was to assist us with, it fell by the wayside.
Stretched to the fray, when she told us about the all-day fair and concert at school, we knew the budget would have to be adjusted. Thinking that a 6/7 year old could eat and ride so much, we gave Princess Chulumba (our nickname for her), J$500. That would have been about US$12 or so at the time.
We were trying to teach my daughter about budgetting and accountability, even at that age. Actually, it was more my partner who had taken on the challenge and every evening as we were driving home from work and school, she would have to say how she spent her lunch money.
That evening was no different. As we drove home, Princess Chulumba recounted the excitement of the fair, all that she ate and the rides she went on. Little did this sweet, tired but deliciously happy child realize that her expenditure was being tallied.
She had spent well over J$500 and a recount was definitely in order!
The following day was a Saturday so we were home and the Princess was at her desk with pencil and paper explaining her previous day's expenditure. What followed was nothing short of high drama!
It took all day, adding and subtracting, then finally the confession that floored and changed how I related to my daughter on money matters and truth telling in general.
I never lied to my baby girl but I was careful about some of the details - either because she did not need to know yet or for effect. Well, when she finally confessed that day it caused me to rethink my truth telling with her.
My daughter confessed that she had stolen money from my partner's mother's purse. Another J$500. That was how she afforded all those rides and food not just for herself but for her friends as well. She was of the opinion that what we had given her would not have been enough. My six year old said that she did not want to ask for more because "We are poor."
Shocked, flipping mad and yet brokenhearted, I cried and cried. The next day, we drove her to my in-laws and had her confess to them what she had done and made a promise to pay the money back through chores.
Over the six years of her life, I made no bones about our financial situation and that we could not spend on unnecessary items simply because my daughter wanted or liked them. I was also open with her about aspects of my relationship with her father, not all and certainly not the abuse.
What that experience taught me was how to exercise "wise counsel," meaning know my audience and how much to disclose based on their capacity to understand. Filter became important. I did not begin to lie to her but became more discerning about what she was ready to handle.
A firm believer in honesty and straight talk, I have learned that not everyone is ready or prepared to handle your truth. My favourite example of this is when you pass say a coworker in the hallway and they ask, "How are you?" Do they really want to know? Or is it just a common courtesy?
Now, if you ask me a question about myself I will gauge my response based on:
- The nature of our relationship and whether I feel you are just asking for the gossip
- How well you have handled my truth in the past
- How ready you are for a straight answer
For sure you will get a truth-filled answer from me but depending on who you are some details might be filtered. More so, you will see my truth if you are really looking and listening to me.
"Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving." James E. Faust
How honest are you? Do you practice truth-telling? Are you speaking your truth first and foremost to yourself? Do you know who can handle your truth?
Continue to have a #TruthFilledThursday!