Children, Chocolate and Honesty

I slip my five year-old daughter a piece of chocolate and tell her, “Don’t tell Mom I gave this to you – it’s our secret.”

She nods enthusiastically as the chocolate melts on her tongue.

When my wife enters the room, my daughter––in an attempt to hold up her end of the bargain––announces, “I just ate a secret!”

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My two year-old son asks for ice cream one morning before breakfast. Ever eager to indulge him to maintain my status as Superdad, I feed him a spoonful of chocolate chip mint and then, because he doesn’t like it, a spoonful of vanilla.

I tell him not to tell Mom I gave him ice cream for breakfast.

No sooner does my wife walk down the stairs than he exclaims, “Mom, I didn’t eat ice cream!”

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Kids are a great barometer of truth. Harboring secrets and telling lies doesn’t suit them. It’s against their make-up to do so.

Learning to lie is something unnatural that adults only get good at with practice. When we do it, however, it never feels right. It never feels good. It never really works.

With a lie, whether we’re the giver or the receiver, our inner litmus test tells us something is off. We can feel it. The truth is, we WANT to tell the truth.

At heart, we’re really just grown-up versions of that child who can’t tell a lie without looking at the floor, without cracking a smile, without being so darn cute about spilling the beans. Until we unlearned it, veracity was at the root of our nature.

Perhaps a policy of honesty is the antidote to aging: by embracing our inner Honest Abe we can be more childlike, more authentic, eat more chocolate.

Being honest may not always be easy, but if we don’t block it, it does come naturally.

Even though it tastes so good to eat a secret.



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