When our middle son was a young teenager, one of his chores was to mow the lawns. One day as I walked into the house after work I noticed that the front yard had dandelion stems in it that were at least 6 inches tall. On top of them were the round puff-balls that blew apart on windy days. My son had promised to mow the yard the day before, but looking at those tall dandelions it was clear to me that he hadn’t done so.
I asked him if he had mowed the lawn the day before, and if he had, whether he did a good job. He answered yes to both questions. By now, I was getting angry.
I asked him how he could possibly have mowed the yard the day before when the dandelions were so tall today? He swore to me that he had indeed mowed the yard the day before.
I was convinced that he was lying, and children who got caught doing that in our house faced substantial consequences—-often extra yard work.
My wife and I preferred to give yard work because it could be quickly completed, was not easy, and the lesson that we were trying to instill would more likely be learned and remembered.
I was about to assign a consequence to my son for lying to me, but something kept me from doing it. Perhaps it was because he didn’t tend to lie. Maybe it was the earnest look in his eyes, or that he was so adamant about his innocence. Whatever the reason, I decided on a simple way to prove the truth.
I asked him to mow the yard the again the next day just before I came home from work. Then when I got home I’d ensure the job was done well. The following day we’d both take a look at the lawn and if I didn’t see tall dandelions with the puff balls on top I’d know that he had lied to me.
I warned him that if the experiment proved that he was lying the consequence would be even worse for him than if he admitted it right then. Once again he said he was telling the truth.
After work the next day, I checked the lawn and he had indeed thoroughly mowed it. There wasn’t a dandelion puffball or tall stem in sight.
When I came home from work the following day I looked at the front yard. To my shock and amazement, there were many dandelion stems standing 6 inches tall. In just one day they had grown that high and sprouted puff balls!
There was now no doubt that he had been telling the truth. I felt shame for having accused him of lying to me. I asked him to come out to the front yard, and sincerely apologized for falsely accusing him. I added that there be no consequence to him, and that we’d do something special so that I could help make it up to him for my not trusting him when he’d given his word that he’d mowed the lawn.
My son and those dandelions taught me some important lessons that day:
I should have trusted him as I usually do.
Never underestimate either my son or nature; both can do amazing things.
Sometimes my eyes can deceive me and it is good to ask my heart for a second