A few weeks ago Z did not end up going to a Tae Kwon Do class that he told us he would be at. We found out because Z was late coming home. Since J was on his way to the gym he decided to go by the dojang to make sure everything was OK. 10 minutes later I picked up my cell phone and noticed a text from Z telling me that he was on his way to pick up some Latin notes from a friend and that he would be late. As I was reading the text J called to tell me that Z had not been in class. J was relieved that he was OK but we were very upset that he had told us that he was going to class but had not actually gone. We decided that J would handle it when he got home from the gym later that evening.
When J got home he spoke to Z and pretty early in the conversation Z realized he had been caught. He immediately said that he was absolutely wrong and that he was sorry he had lied. J asked him why he didn't go and Z told him he had not been in the mood and he that he thought that we would have given him a hard time if he had told us so.
Since I had fallen asleep before J had spoken with Z he told me what had transpired during the conversation the next morning. I was happy to find out that he had readily admitted that he had not gone to class and that he was wrong. I was struck, though, by the fact that he had told J that he felt like he couldn't tell us that he was not in the mood to go because he thought that we would give him a hard time.
Z was absolutely right to think we would have given him a hard time about not going. While Z was wrong for lying to us I realized that J and I were part of the problem. We have an unwritten rule that Z should get to Tae Kwon Do twice a week. This is generally not a problem but during basketball season he spends 2 days each week either at practice or a game and this leaves him little extra time. Instead of being able to be honest with us about the fact that he needed a night off he felt like it would just be easier to lie. After all who wants to get a long speech from their parents about being lazy.
Z leaves the house each weekday morning at 7:30 and he gets home at 5:45 (his day is so long because his school has a dual curriculum of English and Hebrew). He has homework, Tae Kwon Do and basketball. On Saturday mornings he is up and out of the house early for Synagogue and then he returns for the afternoon/evening service. In truth he's a busy kid and both J and I can understand why there might be an evening when he just wants to relax.
There can be rules and expectations but we are learning that you can't force a teenager to do everything you want them to do. Z needs to be honest with us but we need to make it possible for him to be honest with us.