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I was busted yesterday. By my 14-year-old son. I didn’t mean to snoop – I’d already vowed publicly that I would not. But when I went into my son’s room to turn the music off on his laptop and saw his Facebook page open…well, my curiosity trumped my better instincts. My trespassing wasn’t that egregious — a quick click on two messages that were mundane enough to prompt me to stop my snooping and leave the room.

But what was really embarrassing was that a little while later, when my son asked who’d been looking at two of his Facebook messages (I still can’t figure out how he knew), before I could think about it, I was lying.

“Not me,” I said, busying myself with some suddenly urgent laundry folding. “I went on your laptop to turn off the music, but that’s it.”

My husband said that he hadn’t looked at the computer, and I knew my son believed him; though he loves his children dearly, my husband is just genuinely not nosy or intrusive about their social lives.

While hiding in the laundry room, I realized what a fool and hypocrite I was being. I am trying to raise my boys to respect people’s privacy and always tell the truth. And here I was snooping and lying. I went upstairs and confessed and apologized. My son, rushing out to a baseball game, just shook his head at me. He didn’t say what a lot of parents I know have said when their teenagers have lied about bad behavior, which is that they were less upset about the naughty behavior than by the fact that their children had lied. My son didn’t say it because he probably didn’t care that I’d lied; he was just really mad that I had looked at his messages (even though he is told time and time again that nothing on Facebook is ever really private).

But maybe he didn’t say anything about my initial dishonesty because he knows what I hadn’t realized until that moment — that lying to save your ass can come so quickly that you don’t even think about it. And while it is definitely better to have the immediate instinct toward honesty, what matters in the end may be what you do in the end. I’m sure there will come a time before my boys graduate high school when they lie to me about something they did. I hope I can remember that some essentially honest, good people, some whom I may be intimately acquainted with, have been known to lie to save themselves. It may not be admirable, but it’s human.

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