This particular marble plaque has been in our family for years. I think my mother and her siblings owned it first. And heaven knows where they got it from.
I love this plaque. It’s funny because it’s true.
This plaque has always served as a reminder for me to stay true and real. Because, let’s face it, people do those things when faced with those situations. You know? They’re real reactions. To behave anyway else would be a lie.
And I don’t lie.
Perhaps you’ve been wondering about that claim. ‘Does she really never tell lies?’
No, I really don’t tell lies.
I haven’t told a lie since third grade.
Here’s the story behind that.
The exact conversations have faded to vague memory, but every word of this story is true.
My third grade teacher was Mrs. Schmitting. She was my favorite teacher that year. At the time, she was also expecting a baby, and the fact that teacher was pregnant was a big deal to me and my classmates for some reason.
For one lesson, we read a story about a little girl who wanted to play piano. And our homework for the night was to fill out a simple story map about it.
I didn’t do my homework. Nope, not at all. Just because I didn’t feel like doing it.
Until class time approached. Then I suddenly felt bad. I realized Mrs. Schmitting would be disappointed if I said I didn’t finish it. And I didn’t want to disappoint her. So I told her that I’d finished it, and I tried to act as though I’d finished it. Horribly, I might add – I remember I felt red in the face and I was trying not to sweat or shake.
She knew it. She knew I was lying. So much so that, during the class discussion, when I tried to hide my blank story map, she forcibly pulled it from my hands. And I did sort of fight her on that.
I got my name on the board, which meant I was in trouble. Then I further got a check mark beside my name, which meant I was in big trouble and I was also to miss recess.
I felt so humiliated.
At recess, all the other kids got to go play outside while I was stuck in the classroom with Mrs. Schmitting.
And she called me to her desk and told me she was disappointed with me. And then basically told me that, through my lie, I had lost her trust, and it was going to take a long time to earn it back.
I felt so horrible. I felt like crawling under a rock and dying of the shame.
Since then, I have never ever told a lie.
Because it just wasn’t worth the humiliation and the guilt and the utter wretchedness I felt. And to lose someone’s trust, just like that?!? Not worth it!
So. That’s why.
That’s not to say I haven’t had my transgressions of truth. I’m only human. I’m no saint.
I’m guilty of silence when I should have spoken up.
I’m guilty of omission, in that sometimes I don’t tell the whole truth.
I’m guilty of telling people what I think they want to hear. It wasn’t a lie to them, and at the time I really did believe it (that January 15th is what I’m referencing).
I may be a writer in life, but I don’t fabricate anything. There’s a grain of truth in every character, every event, every story I’ve ever written. You know, ‘based on actual persons and events,’ and all that stuff. It may not be true, in that it didn’t really happen that way, but it isn’t a lie. You know?
I have never outright told a lie since that moment in third grade.
So, thank you, Mrs. Schmitting. It was a lesson well learned.
Make of that what you will.