Liar

I possess neither the patience nor the finesse of talking to a soon to be 13-year-old boy. Michael met me at my school this afternoon, but instead of me driving him home, I made a right toward Walmart.

“Where we going?” be asked.

“Home,” I said. “But first we’re going to get your hair cut.”

Speaking of cut, he cut me off before I could say another word.

“Dad said, ‘Walmart has raised the prices of hair cuts, and they don’t cut it the way you want them to. They have a book that they HAVE to cut from.’ He said he’d take me tomorrow.”

During their football practice? Nope. I don’t think so. Thus, I launched into my conversation about truth.

“Michael, you know I love you, but I am very concerned with the lies you tell.”

“WHAT?” Indignation floweth forth.

“I didn’t lie.”

My response was calm and simple. “I don’t believe your dad would care to research Walmart’s haircut policies and prices.” As usual, Michael had an explanation. “Well, I ran my sentences together. I was going to say that Dad would take me tomorrow. Then I just added the other stuff.”

See, Michael has a particular place where he gets his hair cut, and he really likes it there. But the shop is closed on Wednesdays, and Michael has football practice every other afternoon.

And that’s when the conversation went from bad to worse.

“Why would I lie?” he asked. “You wouldn’t even know it if I lied. I’m a really good liar.”

Oh, really?

Again, speaking calmly and simply, I said, “Michael, I hate it when people lie to me.”

Ever the defensive Lockhart, his response was quick. “I don’t lie.”

There was a short pause as I shot him the evil mom glare, and then he added one word.

“Often.”

It’s true. I absolutely can’t stand it when someone lies to me. And despite Michael’s lack of faith in my ability to read people, I’m not so bad at figuring out what’s real and what’s not. I guess teaching taught me that little tool. I’m a conundrum. Either I trust too much, or I don’t trust at all.

As for my students, I don’t catch every one of them who tries to pull a fast one. But when I find out that I’ve been had, I ache inside. I really care about people, and it hurts when they betray me. I’d rather endure the sting of truth than suffer the deep cut of misplaced trust. A friend you can truly trust is like a safety net that catches you when you fall in life.

I tell my students that sneaking an answer on a test may earn them a few extra points, but in the big picture they’d rather have me on their side. If they’ll just be honest with me and let me know they’re failing, I will find another way to help them succeed. I’ll be their safety net.

I guess that’s how God feels about us, about me.

I don’t like it when other people lie, but it’s hard for me to admit that I lie too. Maybe that’s where Michael gets his deception. I lie to others, and I lie to myself. I suppose some people call that kind of lying denial.

In a few days I will be off to Dallas for the adventure of my life. I’ll be boarding a plane all by myself. I’ve never flow in a big plane before, and I keep telling myself I’m not scared.

My greatest goal in life has been to be a published writer. Yes, I want to hold a book in my hands and smell the ink and feel the pages. But no, I don’t expect my life to change drastically once I’m published, if I’m ever published. I won’t make a lot of money.

But money is not an issue with me. If I have it, I will spend it on the things that make people happy, myself included. If I don’t have the money, I don’t fret over what I can’t have. I just think of those things I want as little treasures at the end of the rainbow. Maybe I’ll stumble across them. Maybe I won’t. (Sure wish I could stumble over a 69 Camaro.)

What I really want to do is EARN the privilege to teach others about writing. I wouldn’t consider myself a legitimate source if I weren’t actually published. I dream of holding workshops and going to schools to teach young people how to write. So maybe this will be the year that I will find an agent and an editor who will help me get my books into print.

I’m going to Dallas because I am a finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest, a pretty amazing achievement. Thank you, God. The winner will be announced at a gala. Although the finalists are not guaranteed a contract, the opportunities for meeting the right person to put the publishing plan in motion are ripe. My name will be “out there.”

But I think I’ve blown my chances. That’s me admitting the truth. The fact is I haven’t been writing as I should have. I haven’t been writing period. I can’t. My heart is too heavy. I have too much on my mind. When I lost my parents, I lost a part of me. And when I lost my parents, I realized that I am and always have been a human being separate from them. I always lived to please them. Now I’m on my own. I have to make my own decisions and accept myself for who I am, imperfect as that may be.

I’ve lied to myself, told myself that I’m all right. But that’s not the case. I want to be a writer, but just like the game rock, paper, scissors, sadness beats writing right now. I wish it didn’t.

The purpose of my blog is not for me to have an open diary. I’ve been telling my students for the past week that to write is to be vulnerable, to open up and to reveal a part of yourself. So struggling, hurting writers, I want you to know, you are not alone. I’m sure my writing mentors and heroes have had their own hurdles to overcome.

The past few days have been emotional ones for me. Both of my boys have birthdays this week. My older son’s birthday was Sept. 12. Happy birthday, Josh. I love you.

And Michael’s birthday is Sept. 14. I will soon be mom to a brand new teenager and a brand new “legal” adult. I don’t think I can handle it. What do I do? I miss my mom and dad. Now I know how they felt when I reached milestones in my life. But they always had the answers. I don’t.

So back to the truth. I fear I’m not ready for Dallas. Sadness beats writing in this moment, but will it permanently beat out reaching my dreams?

Writing requires a kind of self truth, even if everything you write is a lie. They just give it a fancy name called fiction.

So instead of accusing Michael of lying, maybe I should have asked him if he was resorting to fiction again.

Maybe denial has been my writer’s block. I know I can do this. I know I can write. The stories are there. I guess I’m just going to have to tell me and God the truth. I can’t do all this by myself. I’m not fine. I’m not the perfect person I want others to see. I need a little help.

I’ve been telling myself over and over, “I don’t lie.” I guess I should have added another word.

“Often.”