My Big Lie
It was arts and crafts time in kindergarten and – as all good children do – we were sitting around our table, eating paste and cutting paper to eat later. At that particular point, I had a thought – perhaps inspired by the paste, perhaps evidence of my burgeoning creativity. In this moment, I was inspired, the muses of art and beauty struck. I decided that I was going to create the greatest art the world had ever seen. I decided to cut my own hair.
I knew that this inspiration would not last long; so I decided to cut my hair right there in the classroom. The rebel inside me was screaming for release. I was challenging the norms set down by our elders. My classmates were awestruck at my audacity. My friends trued to stop me, but I would not hear their arguments. I was breaking free. No more bowl cut for this kiddo.
First I needed to test the scissors to ensure that they would make a clean cut. So I applied them to the bottom of the shirt. The large chunk of fabric that fell away before the awesome power of these shears was a testament to their designer and manufacturer.
Having seen clear evidence that my tool of choice worked, it was time to select the canvass for the expression of my creative juices. I chose a swath of my hair an inch wide directly over my left eye. This would be an ideal location to showcase my talent and my struggle for independence. With the site chosen, I carefully removed the selected follicles, in a manner similar to the clear-cutting of a forest.
When I got home, my parents were not as impressed with my art as my friends had been. In fact they saw it as some sort of vandalism. They demanded an explanation. I was cornered. I had to think fast. If my parents knew that I was a rebel at heart, I would never again be allowed to roam free. So I devised a tale so ingenious that not even the great detective Sherlock Holmes would be able to figure out what hap happened.
My first tactic was denial. ‘What do you mean what happened to my hair? Nothing happened.’ It would seem that my parents were smarter that I had reckoned. They examined my hairline closely and demanded to know who had cut my hair. The piece missing from my shirt seemed to lend credibility to their theory that something had indeed happened. They suspected that I had done it myself. I could see it in their eyes. Time for my backup plan. ‘Uhh, I didn’t cut it off.’
They demanded to know, if it wasn’t me, then who was it? I chose the most logical answer I could. ‘Ummmm . . . I was on the playground at recess and … uhh … a kid came up to me with scissors and … attacked me, cut my shirt and cut off my hair.’ The words tumbled out of my mouth.
My parents wanted to know more. Who was this crazed hairdresser? What did he look like? The interrogation was brutal, but I kept my cool. ‘Uhh … I don’t know his name, but I think he is in … uhm … grade six.
I gave the best description I could conjure. ‘He was wearing a jacket that was red and black and grey (the same colours as my own vest) and I think he had a bowl cut.’ I was brilliant, a masterful storyteller. Someday I would be a player in the international game of espionage.
My parents looked concerned and puzzled. My dad tried to break me. He said ‘now look Chris, you won’t get in trouble if you just tell us the truth.’ Yeah right, I’d heard that line before. I stuck to my story. It became a war of attrition, one that I was determined to win.The next day my parents tried again to force me to reveal my secrets. They tried to convince me of the value of being honest.Click To Tweet
The next day my parents tried again to force me to reveal my secrets. They tried to convince me of the value of being honest. But I had carefully evaluated the situation and developed several scenarios. I was prepared for every possible tactic that they could use to tame my wild nature and regain their hold over me. Soon it would be time for me to strike out on my own, and this situation had become a way for me to break free of my parents’ mind control.
On the third day, my dad came to my school and pulled me out of class. We went down the hall to the sixth grade classroom to identify the culprit. My emotions were riding a stand-up looping rollercoaster. I imagine the feeling was somewhat similar to what a death row inmate feels on his way to the execution chamber. This was not an action I had anticipated. I gave the only answer I could. ‘Nope I don’t see him.’
Now for those of you who remember the size difference between a kindergarten student and a grade sixer, you can well imagine my terror at facing a whole classroom of giants. I was stunned that my daddy would try something so evil to force my hand.
Later that night, at dinner, my father informed me of the actions to be taken. He told me that, since I was unable to identify the barbarian, the entire grade six class would lose their recess privileges until the guilty party came forward.
‘Oh the humanity of it all!’ If my parents were willing to go to such lengths and punish others to force my confession, I was obviously in a battle I could not win. I had underestimated my parents and their desire to crush my spirit. i had fought a hard battle, but I could not allow others to suffer for the actions of a heroic freedom fighter such as myself. Of course the other consideration was that the grade six class would eventually discover who was behind their loss of privilege. This would no doubt result in some serious bloodletting. And since I was not a fast runner, I was convinced the blood would be mine.
I confessed, but I still managed to strike a blow for posterity. Class pictures were the next week, and the evidence of my fight against conformity was centre stage.
I originally wrote this story down for a speech-writing class in university and I may or may not have been eating paste when I wrote it. My professor later wrote a textbook about public speaking and used this speech as a sample speech in the book. I was later able to use the fact that I had a speech published in a textbook to get a job as a professional speech-writer.
I’ve been thinking about my early skill as as a spinner of yarns when I hear them from my kids. I wrote a guide to help you identify and deal with the lies your kids tell you.