Rob Ford taught my kid a lesson

I never thought the mayor of Toronto would give me the grist I need for a frank talk with my 9-year-old kid about the perils of smoking crack cocaine.

It was during one of our dinner table talks. We’ve been making a point lately of sitting down and chatting about issues of the day – or just about what happened during the day – in the name of family cohesion and all that. It also lets me see whether we’ve done our job in teaching our daughter right from wrong.

Last week, when Toronto police chief Bill Blair announced that his force had possession of a video that appeared to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, it was on the news. Our daughter was watching it with us. I pounced on the Bill Blair/Rob Ford/crack thing, ready to explain and deconstruct and just generally protect her from the story.

“Mom,” she said, rolling her eyes, “Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine has only been on the news every day for the last month.”

Right. Little kids. Big ears.

Thanks, Rob Ford, for giving me a way into the delicate subject of drugs. Of lying. Of how the democratic systems works – and some of its frailties. Of how saying sorry sometimes isn’t enough.

The night Rob Ford admitted publicly that he’d actually smoked the stuff, the conversation went something like this:

“You know smoking crack cocaine is wrong – and bad for you – right?” I asked.

She nodded.

“But you know what?” she said, chewing thoughtfully on her pasta. “It was worse that he lied,” she said. “Why didn’t he just tell the truth? People would have forgiven him.”

What paper has she been reading? Sheesh.

I like to think her understanding came from good parenting (laugh away). You see, a few days earlier she’d lied to me. She’d asked me to sign her agenda – which she has to show the teacher every day – just before she left for school. I was getting ready for work and didn’t have my glasses on.

“See, Mommy, I’ve put check marks next to everything,” she said, referring to her homework assignments from the night before. We check and initial them to show that we know she’s done her homework.

“I can’t read them without my glasses,” I said. “I don’t know what I’m signing. You’re not going to make a liar out of me, are you?”

“No, I did them,” she insisted. “I promiiiiiiiiise.” Right. So I signed it and off she went. A better parent would have known for sure whether she’d done it. But I digresss.

She and I both knew better.

When she came home that evening, I looked at her agenda. Of course she’d lied. “I feel kinda bad about it,” she admitted.

“So how are you going to show me you feel bad?” I asked her.

Huh? She looked at me quizzically.

“There’s saying sorry and then there’s showing you’re sorry,” I said. “They’re two different things. Just being sorry isn’t enough.”

She said she wouldn’t do it again. I’m not sure I believe her.

And I’m not sure I believe Rob Ford.

I didn’t push her. But I will next time. I hope someone pushes Rob Ford.

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