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Deception on His Mind

Naive though he still may be, Simon is learning the gentle art of white lies in the promotion and defense of self interest. Simon used to be so timid that he had a hard time standing up for himself, especially if the unwanted attention or action was physical. I used to worry that he would be taken advantage of horribly.

On and off the playing fields, brawn is not an option for Simon. What he’s learning is that he can use speed and agility to get his way in sports and quick-thinking elsewhere. I’m happy to see his skill set evolve, but have to admit I’m nervous about the fact that it can—and will—be used against me and Matt. It’s just a matter of when.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

Exhibit A: “The Dentist”

About two weeks ago, our favorite soccer team, Manchester City, played Barcelona in a European tournament game. Matt took the day off to watch it, and kick-off was in the early afternoon. Matt really wanted the entire family to go to a local pub and watch together, but the game started before school let out.

Simon heard this and had a solution: “Just tell school I have a dentist appointment and come get me early.” I am most disturbed here by the fact that his plan would have worked had I been willing.

Note to future self and employers: Be skeptical of any family commitment Simon gets out of because of a medical appointment.

Exhibit B: Size Matters

Last week, on the heels of a major snow storm and just after the completion of two large-ish school projects, Simon was assigned a book bag project. Students were to collect items that represented their favorite book, place them in a brown bag, and share with the class. We don’t have a lot of tchotchkes in the house, so I had no idea how most of Simon’s favorite books could be illustrated. Nor is he the kind of kid who could just draw the items.

It occurred to me that one book, The Borrowers, was perfect for the project as it told the story of tiny people who live in hidden places in human houses and survive by “borrowing” small items humans don’t miss. We could toss one thimble (cup), one spool of thread (table), one hat pin (climbing device), one postage stamp (art for the walls), and one chess piece (sculpture) in the bag, represent the story well, and be done with it. All that was required was to tell a tiny white lie about how much Simon liked the book, because in reality he loved the idea of the book but found its execution boring. As did I.

Perhaps this planted a seed. Because the day he gave his presentation, he had the following story to tell:

“Oh mama. I have to tell you something, but want it to be our secret. Today during our brown bag book projects, everyone else had their book in the bag, too. I thought maybe we were supposed to, but I didn’t. After a few people went, I thought ‘Oh no, Simon, you better think of something quick.’ So when they got to me, I told the little white lie that my book was a hard-back and too big to fit in the bag.”

Well done!?

Note to future Simon: You may want to investigate which high school and/or college excuses are over-used. Every printer can’t break down the night before a deadline.

Exhibit C: Social Anxiety

Last week we hit the ice cream shop after soccer practice. It was full of families, and one young boy wandered up to us to talk and show off his huge ice-cream cone. The boy stood a little too close, waited a little too long to speak, was a little too loud, and dropped off at odd junctures. We strongly suspect he was on the autistic spectrum, something Matt and I are better equipped to handle than Simon, especially if we don’t have time to prepare him beforehand.

The boy approached all three of us the first time, and Matt did most of the talking. The second time the boy approached Simon at the water fountain. We weren’t right beside him, and he looked confused and a little uncomfortable. I watched as he listened to the boy, made a comment about his ice cream cone, and then said, “I’m sorry, I have to go now” while making a beeline for us.” Honestly, I thought he handled it pretty well, and we had a nice chat in the car afterwards.

Not to future Simon: As an introvert, you will want to have a handful of “escape clauses” ready for every large social event. Before attending any graduation party, wedding, Bar Mitzvah, et al, think of a few and have them at the ready. Good luck!

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