Connie Goff: Kids almost too honest

Connie Goff

Children are so honest. My guess is, they're honest because they have yet to learn about fear. Or maybe it's because they don't know what damage the truth can do. I'm not sure what it is, but let's face it, children pretty much call it as they see it.

Now, I'm certainly not saying honesty is a bad thing. Most definitely, we want and expect honesty and integrity from the people we come in contact with. Who doesn't want to know politicians, doctors, teachers or car salesmen who are honest?

But it seems to me that while we adults have come to know how to "doctor the truth" a bit to make life better for ourselves and others, children remain honest to end.

Maybe we don't want to tell Aunt Mary her dress and hat don't match and her stockings have fallen down around her ankles. Maybe telling the neighbors you think the color they chose for their house looks like baby poop isn't such a good thing if you're intending to live near them much longer. But beware of the children –– they'll tell them exactly what they think!

My experience with children and honesty probably started when I became a mother. I knew when my children told me they loved me they were telling the whole truth –– the honest truth –– nothing but the truth –– so help them.

The more negative honesty came soon enough with our children –– probably with our sixth, David. In my defense, I had to plan menus to fit our limited budget and there were many meals that included pastas, rice or potatoes. David didn't necessarily like pastas, rice and potatoes.

I can still see his face when he was presented a plate of Spanish rice –– squinty eyes, wrinkled nose, scrunched up mouth. Body language –– I believe that's what you call it. Then there were the exclamations like, "This is gross!" "You KNOW I hate rice." And on and on they went.

David was not a very old person when his mother told him, without mincing words, that she was NOT a short-order cook and if she chose to become one, she'd get a job at a cafe. David soon learned that his honesty many times led to hunger pains by bedtime.

There were other occasional honest remarks made by my children through the years. "Are you kidding –– do you actually think I will wear that outfit?" Or, "What do you mean I can't go to the movies with my friends –– you're just mean." Or, "Oh yeah, well why don't you pick up YOUR room?" You know, that kind of thing. Most parents have heard those remarks coming from those sweet, innocent children we love so much. (It's no wonder child abuse exists, even though I'm not a proponent of it!)

As I began my career as a substitute teacher in the area, honesty in children became even more noticeable for me.

Picture it –– a room filled with shy, questioning 5-year-old children who are trusting their parents haven't put them in danger's way when enrolling them in kindergarten. They love their classroom teacher, who greets them each school day with a smile and loving hugs. He/she talks to them about their ABCs, foods that make you healthy and living in a community. Every day these kindergarden children love their teacher more and more.

And then one day the teacher comes down with the Plague or some other mysterious disease and cannot come to school.

In walks the substitute teacher –– an elderly, heavyset grandmother-looking person who most of the children have never laid eyes on in their short lives. The looks on their faces tell the tale –– they had never seen a person so large in their lives.

"You have a big tummy," one said. "You're really big," said another. "Do you eat too much pizza?" asked yet another.

As my mother used to say, "These are the times that try one's lives." What do you say? "Be still or I'll eat you?" "Stop looking at me like that or I'll sit on you." Nope. You just give them a smile, open the lesson plans and begin the day.

Many times, after getting better acquainted, the children would run to greet me as I walked down the hall toward their class. The "fat" comments came less and less often as they learned to love me and I loved them right back.

We'd often laughed as we read Seuss or Steinberg around the reading circle. I distinctly remember as one little boy laid his head on my shoulder, cuddled in close while I read and patted my big tummy. He honestly loved me!

But the greatest example of children and honesty came just the other day as my son and I walked into the Page County Courthouse in Clarinda, Mo. There was a young woman standing there with several little children. My guess is that the woman ran a daycare and was taking the children for a field trip.

One little boy –– I found out his name was Brody –– came up to me and asked, "Are you a princess?" I smiled, patted the little scoot on the head and said, "I most certainly am."

Now that's honesty in its purest form. I have informed my family they are amongst royalty and I will be expecting to be treated as such as life progresses.

Love those honest little children.

Maryville Daily Forum