Wednesday night Gabe and I were trying to figure out what to play together in that gap between dinner and bedtime; he suggested Pokemon (we role-play in the Pokemon world) but I countered with Beyblades (he got a few, and a dome, for Christmas). He counter-countered with role-playing AND playing and I proposed rock/paper/scissors to decide what we would do. As I'm sure you're aware, the essence of this simple decision making tool is the simultaneous reveal of the chosen tool; a rock, a piece of paper, or scissors. Gabe cheated, waiting to see what I did in order to beat me.
I have a visceral dislike of cheating and cheaters; as a child I wouldn't play with anyone who cheated at games, whether it was peeking at hide and go seek or budgers in line for the drinking fountain. It's something I absolutely cannot stand; is it so much to ask for fairness? For an equal chance to win or lose? I don't think so.
Take a moment then to imagine my anger at Gabe's blatant attempt at cheating, and his corresponding anger to my refusal then to play with him at all. He denied cheating, denied it and slammed his door in my face because I wouldn't play on his terms. After we both took a minute I realized that I had overreacted a bit and opened his door to apologize, but I still wasn't going to play with him until he admitted that he cheated. He tearfully refused.
I told him "Be brave, Gabriel. Own it, and don't do it again." From behind his door where he was huddled there was stony silence. And then, "I"ll be brave mom. I cheated." I was SO PROUD of him. We hugged and got back to rock/paper/scissors in order to get some playtime.
There are all kinds of ways to be brave, this is just one of them, but owning up to something like this is a huge step. Owning our mistakes, whatever they may be, and then pledging to do better, is real bravery. When we admit that dieting doesn't work and say 'Enough', that's being brave. When we say "I like me just fine, and I don't owe anyone beauty or sexiness or availability" that's bravery too. Be brave. Learn a new way of being. Accept your mistakes, own them, and move forward.