My eldest daughter Alannah is going through some growing pains.
She is dragging her Mom and I through those pains with her.
Last night I arrived home late. The sun had already set, and as I walked in the door I detected the aroma of something good.
Alannah met me standing at the top of the stairs, looking very authoritative as she looked down at me on the landing.
"What smells so good?", I asked as I hung up my coat and set down my briefcase.
"Mom made cake, Daddy", answered my seven year old. "But it came out really bad, come see!"
"That's not very nice, Alannah", I replied. "I'll bet Mommy worked really hard on that cake, with her back hurting so much. It sure smells good."
I walked up stairs, and Alannah led me into the kitchen. She pointed to the cake pan on the counter. It was a carrot cake in a rectangular Teflon cake pan. Only this cake looked like all the ends had been dug around, like when you make a sand castle and dig a moat around. And in the center of the cake was a huge gouge.
I looked at Alannah.
"I told you it looked bad", said my little seven year old demon – with the sweetest most innocent look on her face. There were crumbs around her mouth as she smiled so innocent.
"What happened to it?", I asked, giving her the chance to confess.
"I don't know, it just came out of the oven that way I guess". She shrugged her shoulders as she kept smiling at me.
My heart sank.
"Let me see your fingers".
Her tiny digits were coated with the gloss of carrot cake sugar, the orange crumbs embedded under her nails.
She kept smiling at me, never losing eye contact.
"How did this cake get all over your fingers, Alannah?"
She went to the counter and started picking up crumbs around the pan with the finger tips. She looked back at me, smiling. "See?".
"How did the crumbs get all over the counter?" I asked.
But the answer did not come quick enough. Up the stairs came my lovely wife Darlene. She was smiling and ready to tell me the day's events.
"Mommy?", I said to direct her attention to this matter at hand. "Is there something wrong with this cake pan? It seems to leave a moat around the outside of cakes, and even make big holes in the middle?"
The 'lovely' slipped from my wife's face. The rage washed it away.
"Go to your room, Alannah, I'll be in in a moment". I said. Alannah wisely exited the kitchen quickly.
There was yelling.
There was screaming.
And then the rage washed away and the tears came.
I left Darlene after a bit of listening, and I went in to see my eldest un-exorcised demon. The jig was up, and she knew that we knew that she knew what she was doing.
I sat down on the end of her bed. And I just looked at her. I couldn't hide my disappointment. After a couple of minutes of listening to her sobbing 'I'm sorry!', I told her how I felt about liars, and how I felt about thieves. I sentenced her to a grounding from the Wii video games and to staying in her room all the while expressing to her my disappointment.
Just before I left her to her solitude and study, I asked her "How did you ever possibly think you were going to get away with that?".
There was no answer.
"Alannah, I guess I am disappointed for several reasons. One – you must think I am stupid to think you could fool me. Two – you wrecked Mommy's cake and you don't even seem to care?. And three – you really stink as a liar. Lying is not something somebody learns. You're either good at it or you're not. You my friend, stink at it. If I were you I would never do it again."
She looked at me.
"I don't like liars, Alannah." I repeated. And I left the room.
Later that evening, as we sat around the table eating supper, I asked the same question I ask every night.
"So what did you do today?"
Ashley-Rae started to answer as she always does … "I got out of bed and I put on my slippers …".
Alannah cut her off before she could continue.
"I used my finger to dig around the outside of the cake because I didn't think anybody would notice", she stated.
I looked at her.
"But Dad did", she continued, her eyes to the floor. "Daddy's not stupid you know".
I smiled at her.
"And that's the truth, Daddy", she finished.
"I know it's the truth, Alannah."
"Because I stink at lying" said Alannah.
I got up and hugged her in her chair.
"Yes, you do Alannah", I said. "And it's a good thing too. 'Cause I really like you".