Likely Story

The sun was shining. The paddleboards were loaded. We were ready to go—a day on the lake to celebrate the last little bit of summer break.

I took a seat on one of the chairs on our front porch to change into my swim shoes and re-apply my sunscreen. Seeing the bottle, my wife, rocking on the swing next to me, called out to the twins who were busy racing their bikes around the cul-de-sac with their friends, “Julia! Isabel! Did you put your sunscreen on this morning?”

Without pause, they both yelled back in their distinctly annoyed 8-year-old voices, “YES MOM!!”

“Great. Come here so I can smell your arms.”

The bikes screeched to a halt. Both girls’ faces turned, indignant.


“Great. Let me smell your arms.”


“Why not?”


“You didn’t put your sunscreen on. Did you?”

And on and on this went—for the whole neighborhood to hear. It wasn’t the first time.

Eventually, the girls admitted they didn’t actually put their sunscreen on, but had meant to. They both grudgingly walked to the front porch, applied their sunscreen liberally and then, finally, we were off to the lake.

It should be noted, my girls are professional liars. When asked, they’ve always brushed their teeth, finished their homework, flushed the toilet, finished their dinner, completed their chores, cleaned their room, put on underwear, etc.

Luckily, they are also horrible liars. I have no idea why they keep trying. My favorite attempt was the time Isabel turned her homework in at school. It was signed, “Mom.”

Her teacher had a field day with it.

As parents, we keep working and working to get them to clean up their act. We’ve done the unbearable punishment route (which usually also turns out to be a self-inflicted wound—meaning we’re the ones who are really punished). We’ve done the “get-out-of-jail-free trick” where you can fess up to your lie with no consequences We‘ve done the prove you’re not lying trick—which forces us to smell their hands after they’ve washed and other things I never thought a grown man would find himself doing. And so on.

We haven’t tried the “I’m going to give you a minute to think this through before you answer trick”—as suggested by Dr. Christopher Thurber in this month’s piece—but will be putting it into the rotation (along with several other of his suggestions).

We know the fight is worth the effort and will keep plugging along—much to the entertainment of our neighbors, friends and family—all of whom have, on occasion, gently reminded me that we may actually be fighting genetics.

As my brother said, “Rodney, I’ve noticed you never let facts get in the way of a good story.”

Hmm …

Till next month …

Rodney J. Auth

P.S. Join us at the Fall Festival taking place September 24 at the Shisler Center in Wooster, Ohio. You can register at