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Honesty is Always the Best Policy

By , Park Ridge, IL
“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” That's what the great poet Spenser Johnson once said. Honesty is the best policy. At least, that’s what the teachers in elementary school used to say. Sixth grade is where it all started. During the course of the school year, there were both good and bad grades acquired. However, only the good grades made their way into the dinner talks and refrigerator postings. Till Monday night at the family residence. When I was asked how school went that day, I would always follow with a dreary answer and try to switch the topic. My parents would not discard the topic that easily. They would become private investigators working for the school just to find out the truth. I knew something was conceiving that night. My assumption was later confirmed when those five words came out of my dads mouth. Honesty is the best policy. I never understood that line in 6th grade, but it changed me to the way I am today because of one parent/teacher conference.

Monday morning rolled in just as it always does; being the light part of a 24 hour day. Too bad it wasn't the bright part of my day. Reports cards are in; Monday morning press in other words. The second my mom lay those well polished tips on the stack of mail I went from being a articulate girl to a muffled child in a matter of seconds. Report cards scared me. This meant that my parents would find out what exactly was going on in the classroom. Tacks on the teachers seat, glue under the chairs. Can you imagine the chaos? Just like every 6th grade student, any student in general, I didn’t want my parents to know every C or D I got in social studies, or in any subject for that matter; I just kept those tidbits out of our daily after school conversations. I knew that if I got anything lower than a B on a quiz it would mean more studying and less time to play. Deception is the path I took. I mean what can I say, I'm just a kid right?

“John look, Briana's report card came in.” My mom reported to my dad. I wanted to hurl when I heard that. While she looked over it a couple of times, my mom kept catechizing my C-’s and glaring at me after class grade she examined. She seemed to asked all the questions I didn't have answers to. “Why do you have a C- in math, reading, AND science?” She looked at me for a good minute, even though it felt like a lifetime. I could not come up with a good enough response so I decided to look down at my feet, hoping they’d distract me from the painstaking process.

The spiel came to a conclusion. I was still looking down at my untied shoes, watching one shoe lace hop over the other with each step I took. I cut the tension with a knife and asked, “What’s for dinner?” There was a murmured response but I didn’t have the guts to ask her to repeat herself. I have done enough as it was. Silent treatment was my mom’s way of telling me I should be ashamed of myself, along with all the other lines from the parenting handbook. I hated the feeling after report card mailings. My parents knew what I hid from them and the truth came out. I had soccer practice later that night. It was breathing time; my safe haven. I knew that when got home my life would be over.

When we came home that night after practice, I was sat down and lectured on the importance of being a better student and how it would later benefit me. As a kid, I didn’t understand what they were talking about so I still went about the same way, hiding from the truth. Adolescence I call it. A couple more C’s came my way and a couple more times I responded with a dreary response when asked about my day at school.

Three days swept by now and the rents decided it was time for a talk. Mom and dad sat me down for the second disgracing lecture of the week. This time it continued on from the first lecture except this one hit me, like a slap in the face. They were being serious this time and not just yapping away about boring examples. My father told me, “There is no point in lying because it only digs deeper holes than those already there.” I finally comprehended. I understood it as a snowball effect, first it’s a fluffy, light snowball that can be picked up and thrown easily. The more you keep lying, the bigger that snowball gets, and the harder it becomes to pick up. I tried out the new method, the honesty-is-the-best-policy method. It was Friday of that week and I began to tell my parents about upcoming quizzes, recent grades, and things that happened throughout the school day. Let me tell you, it was a breeze living life at that time. There were no more secrets, no more hiding the dishonoring grades I got on my map test in social studies. It was only me and my truthful conscience at that point.

Ever since my two lectures in the 6th grade, I have been keeping myself in check when it comes to being honest. It has provided me with less stress and tension. From that day forward, report card mailing became easier. In the following years, 7th and 8th grade report card mailings were days I looked forward to because it was a day off from school and my parents already knew what to expect. No more puzzled looks. No more disappointment. No more stress. And best of all, no more lying. It felt good to come home with a smile on my face after a hard working day at school. I now fathom the ideas of many authors, poets, and revolutionaries; honesty is indeed the best policy.





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