You don’t have to teach your kids how to tattle.
It’s one of those things that come naturally—like breathing and saying “Mine!” and getting a bump on the head right before picture day. And if you have multiple children, you know that nothing brings out a child’s inner Judge Judy than a sibling breaking the rules or, worse, a sibling getting away with something the Tattler has been punished for. (It’s uncanny how kids suddenly remember and respect the rules so much more when someone else is breaking them.)
I thought we had tamed the tattletale beast in our family a few years ago. But as this summer wore on, with our kids experiencing a bit too much togetherness, I noticed that they were starting to hone their FBI informant skills again.
One sweltering July afternoon, while my mom and I were watching the kids swim, I asked her advice on how to curb the tattling. She gave me a brilliant idea, borrowed from our friend Joye, a longtime kindergarten teacher.
“Whenever the kids come to you with a tattle, have them write it down in the Tattle Book,” Mom said. “Assure them that if they write out the situation in detail, you will read it later. That way, they’ll get it out of their system and will soon forget about it. And you’ll have a good laugh later when you read all the things they’ve written about each other!”
It sounded like a good plan, so I decided to give it a try.
I went home and found a spiral notebook in our school supply stash. Since it was a three-subject notebook, I decided to expand the “tattle book” idea. Not only is our Tattle Book a place for the kids to tell us about their perceived offenses, but it also includes a section for Brett and me to “tattle” the good things we catch our children doing, as well as a section for us to record the funny things they do or say (you know, those cute things you think you’ll remember forever but usually forget in a few days).
The results have been hysterical! Our 3rd grade daughter’s tattles on her siblings are long and detailed. (She loves to write, so she’s creating a veritable novel about all the injustices done to her.) Our 1st grade daughter’s tattles are rife with all caps and underlines and exclamation points, making sure you hear how MAD she is!!!! And our 4-year-old takes so long to write his tattles (because we have to spell the words for him) that he’s completely forgotten the offense by the time he’s written it.
The kids enjoy reading and rereading all the positive things their dad and I have “tattled” about them. And Brett and I are trying to remember to jot down all the funny things they do, like when our son mistakenly sang “Jesus diapered all the children, all the children of the world” this week.
I have to admit, the Tattle Book is one of the best ideas I’ve ever borrowed.
Did you know that God has His own Tattle Book? Oh, it’s not called that, of course; but the Bible talks about God having a book where He records all kinds of things about us. For example . . .
- God records our days. “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:16)
- God records our deeds. “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12)
- God records our despair. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8)
- God records our deliverance. “Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued.” (Daniel 12:1)
- God records our destination. “Nothing evil will be allowed to enter [heaven], nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 21:27)
Scripture tells us that everything we do and every day of our lives is recorded in God’s book. And it kind of makes you wonder . . .
What do you want God to write about you in His book today?