Covert Operations

My older son and I are going through a thing right now:  I don’t like to be lied to, and he likes to lie to see what he can get away with.  Lately, it’s been a game for him.  A tiring, ridiculous game that I began to think I might not “win.”

An anonymous tip (okay, my mother-in-law) may have turned the tide.

Last night, my husband got a cryptic text from his mom ssuggesting he raid my son’s room.  We don’t allow food upstairs, for one good reason.  Here… a picture’s worth a thousand words:


Can you imagine food thrown into that mess? Or the pests that such slobbery would attract? {shivers}

I digress.

While my son was outside playing basketball with a neighbor, my husband bagged up the hidden treasures; enough sugar to rot the teeth of eight children.


What to do next…

1)      We could ask him about the candy and give him an opportunity to lie to our faces

2)      We could hide the candy without saying anything (yet) and wait.

Of course, he won’t come right out and ask where his candy is – that would be admitting guilt.  But one day, it will come up in conversation.  It will be subtle (maybe a photo of the confiscated sugar left on his pillow?) but he will have no question that we know.

However we proceed, it will be clear that we trust until trust is broken.  And trust has been broken. He will know that his room isn’t off limits from the rules of our house.

This may seem a bit overboard for a bag of sugar, but there’s more at stake here.  Next month, he will be twelve and I know there are things much worse than sugar that he could choose to hide.

He needs to know that we look because we care.

I’m not kidding myself; I know he won’t appreciate us caring.  He will be furious that we assert our right to search and seizure.  He will likely resent our infringement upon his “rights.”  I’m aware he likely won’t gain understanding until years later.

Possibly when he’s checking the room of his own child.

At least we’ll know we didn’t trust blindly.

So, what do you think we should do with the “evidence”?  We might was well have some fun with this!

37 thoughts on “Covert Operations

  1. momsomniac July 21, 2014 / 6:28 AM

    My oldest son (soon to be 10) does the stashed candy thing too. I have no advice, but I feel you, and wish you both luck with this and prayers that candy is as bad as it ever gets for us both.

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:29 PM

      Glad it’s not just me, Momsomniac. I’m saying the same prayers for us… the ‘could-be-worse’ thoughts make candy seem pretty good 🙂

  2. suzicate July 21, 2014 / 6:34 AM

    Been there, done that!

  3. Sean July 21, 2014 / 6:48 AM

    This brought to mind a time I was helping a friend while in high school clean his room. It had been some time since it was done and we were 16-17 at the time. It was pretty nasty, half drank coke cans, half eaten pizza lodged under the water bed mattress, and so forth. Of course I’m not the one to talk about tidiness lol. Anyways, kids go through stages where they will lie just to lie and then it will be to lie because they know they had been caught but hopefully through the love that is shown, they will one day not lie. As for the candy, you could always break a bag out and you and hubby sit and enjoy it with your oldest there watching. Some odd reason I could see him making an excuse to go up to his room and check his stash. Take care and stay safe.

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:32 PM

      Haha, ‘waterbed mattress’ really shows our age, Sean 🙂 That room does sound gross. Now, I would get to where I had clothes thrown all over the place because I had to try everything on before making a final decision, but it eventually got the point I couldn’t take it anymore and would clean it. So far, haven’t seen the kids’ breaking point. Every month or so I try to get them to get it cleaned good enough where they can vacuum the carpet. I’m not going to eat the candy, but I may let my younger son have same… that would really bug him!

  4. kingmidget July 21, 2014 / 6:49 AM

    I would bring the bag out one night at dinner and just put it on the table and see what he says.

    My oldest is now 19. He went away for college last year and completely failed at it so now he’s home and doesn’t believe that any rules of the house should apply to him. If I had my way, he’d be kicked out, my wife will never do that.

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:34 PM

      That would make a nice conversation piece, KM 🙂 The late teens are tough because they think they are adults, but if that were the case, they’d have their own place. (I remember some push/pull with my parents over rules at that age.) I hope you and your family work it out… sailing into adulthood isn’t an easy process for anyone involved.

  5. nrhatch July 21, 2014 / 7:18 AM

    Reason #997 why I’m glad we chose not to have kids. 😛

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:37 PM

      Hehe, I won’t lie… on the worst days, I wonder why we didn’t stick with cats 🙂 Luckily they all aren’t bad days!

  6. Debbie July 21, 2014 / 7:42 AM

    Oh, wow, this is a tough one, Janna. Domer may have had his faults, but lying (thankfully!) wasn’t one of them. And I made it pretty clear that as long as he was under my roof, he was subject to my rules. You’re right to be concerned, though — candy is one thing, but as he gets older, the temptations become ever more worrisome.
    As for what to do right now — I’m far from a parenting expert. I’d Google “How to handle lying, sneaking child” and see what others recommend. My first inclination (which might be wrong) would be to withhold something he wants, in hopes he learns consequences. Good luck, okay?!

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:41 PM

      Well, I had to have the discussion sooner than intended, Debbie. I overheard him threatening his brother and accusing him of taking the candy. When confronted with the facts, the first thing he did was rat his brother out (apparently he had candy in his room too, but ate it all.) He’s supposed to present me with what he thinks is a fair punishment for lying tonight. He said he hid the candy in his room because I wouldn’t let him have enough candy. I let him know the proper thing to do would be to talk about it and not sneak around.

      • Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. July 28, 2014 / 3:55 PM

        Good way to take action on this! Anytime I let my kids pick their own punishment, it is always more severe than I would have done.

        • jannatwrites July 30, 2014 / 9:23 PM

          I’ve found that the be true in some cases, too, Pastor Joe. This time, he offered up a punishment that had a little reward mixed in so we’re still working on it.

  7. Sandra July 21, 2014 / 9:38 AM

    Oh, dear. I’m interested to see how this ends. 😉 If I were your son, I’d know that my room is no longer off-limits. I agree with you that he may not understand your intentions until he’s much older, but he will one day. Parenting is no easy feat, and I’m sure he’ll learn that, too!

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:43 PM

      He knows I’ll be doing surprise checks, Sandra. I hate to go in there because it’s too nasty 🙂

  8. chlost July 21, 2014 / 12:33 PM

    Those years are a bit of a blur to me (note that you will live through it) but we are now dealing with our oldest granddaughter. She is seven and the concept of truth and lies seem to be a bit fuzzy to her. My first reaction is that putting it out there and forcing him to lie or to tell the truth will only make him feel justified in lying to avoid getting into trouble in the future. I tend to try to make kids want to be successful….not exactly sure how to do that in your situation, but it would seem that setting up a way for him to come forward and admit it would be best for him-a bit like the confessional in the Catholic Church. Pay a price for the lie and put it behind him. Good luck with it, and let us know what happens!

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:47 PM

      Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but I do have a sense that I’ll make it through, haha! It does make sense that the set up shouldn’t be ripe for a lie. Right now, he will lie about everything. (For instance, I’ll ask him if he did the cat boxes and he’ll say yes. As soon as I tell him I’m going to check them he back-tracks and says he wants to check them first. Same thing with brushing his teeth. He’ll say he brushed them but when I ask to check them, he suddenly remembers that maybe he didn’t do it.)

  9. Carol Ann Hoel July 21, 2014 / 2:01 PM

    The photo of your son’s room brings back memories. Ha! We could demand that our daughter clean up her room, but the only way we could make it happen was to stand there the entire time saying pick up this, pick up that. Did we win? I don’t think so, but neither did she. Maybe it was a draw. Parenthood is not easy. Hang in there, Janna. Blessings to you…

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:49 PM

      I try to back off their rooms – at least they are upstairs and not in constant view. I do make them vacuum at least once a month to clean out the kitty hair.

  10. GodGirl July 22, 2014 / 3:45 AM

    I agree with your approach – I think it’s the most loving thing to do. Blind trust doesn’t teach, and I like the point you make about him knowing that you do check/ notice the things in his room. We all want to be noticed in a way – even if it means being found out for something we’re ashamed of.

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:51 PM

      Thanks for your support, GodGirl! It’s the little things that make this parenting thing so hard 🙂

  11. stephie5741 July 22, 2014 / 6:30 AM

    So tough! It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes him to bring it up. He’s going to sweat it out for a while…

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:53 PM

      It didn’t take long for him to notice… and blame his younger brother, Stephie 🙂 I think we got it worked out for now, though.

  12. diannegray July 22, 2014 / 4:01 PM

    I had my nephew living with me a few years back and he did exactly the same thing. I couldn’t dissuade him so I eventually told him I saw a big rat in his room looking for food and then told him another story about how a friend of mine was bitten by a rat on the face while he was asleep and got a skin eating disease (good grief – I’m SO mean). It worked LOL 🙂

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:54 PM

      Oh my gosh, you are hilarious, Dianne! With all the beasties I’ve heard about in Australia, I think I’d believe the face-eating rat story 🙂

  13. Lance July 23, 2014 / 7:38 AM


    we went through this with our teenage daughter and we talked through it.

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2014 / 4:57 PM

      Great advice, Lance… thanks for sharing your 2 cents on the topic 🙂

  14. Leigh W. Smith July 26, 2014 / 7:55 AM

    Writing this, I have to smile, because our little guy in his (less mature than your little guy) own way tries to hide things under his bed, but he sometimes doesn’t cover them up. I love his curiosity — there was (yikes!) a furniture pin (I don’t know what they’re called), Dad’s old lanyard, a piece of mommy’s ginger candy, various papers and drawings, and lots of books one time. I like your suggestion that “we look because we care,” and would gladly follow your lead on this. I sometimes catch myself saying I’m his “friend,” but I don’t necessarily want to convey quite that. I’m his (and their) advocate and can be their confidante if they want me to and would certainly encourage that, but we’re also their guide and responsible for their safety and, as such, “in charge.” Yay for that, because I sometimes wonder! I’m not sure what I’d do with an older child concealing something, and of course it would depend on what they’re concealing and the dynamics of the relationship at that time. I’m not always the greatest disciplinarian, however, so I hope it would all work out okay. Good luck to you.

    • jannatwrites July 30, 2014 / 9:31 PM

      I’m with you on wanting to have the type of relationship with my kids that encourages communication. I want them to feel they can talk to me, but I know I can’t be their friends (at least right now…perhaps when they’re all grown up 🙂 ) I think a lot of what we’re going through with my older son is him testing boundaries. The hardest part is picking the battles (deciding what is really important to dig our heels in on.) Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts on this, Leigh!

  15. pattisj July 26, 2014 / 9:53 AM

    I’m glad it already worked itself out. I was thinking of eating it and leaving the wrappers here and there for him to find. 😉 The teen years can be tough, but I’m confident in your abilities as a parent and a faithful God who will guide you.

    • jannatwrites July 30, 2014 / 9:33 PM

      Hehe, if I hadn’t started low-sugar eating a couple months ago, I just might have done that, at least the chocolate! I do hope we get through the teen years…. they not so far away now!

      • pattisj July 30, 2014 / 9:37 PM

        You will do just fine.

  16. Imelda August 2, 2014 / 5:56 PM

    You did the right thing (I will react the same if I were in your place). It is good to nip things like this in the bud and to let him know that he really could not get away with this.

    I guess, I have not much to say beyond that except that you are not alone.

    • jannatwrites August 2, 2014 / 6:49 PM

      Thanks, Imelda. I guess we never know exactly what we’ll do until we’re in the position!

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