The telltale blue star

The telltale blue star

Dr. Brock’s daughter took a creative approach to combat her 4-year-old’s fibs. If only the method worked on veterinary clients.
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Oct 13, 2018

"I cannot tell a lie ... without covering my forehead first." (iagodina - stock.adobe.com)It seems like clients outright fib to me sometimes. I know that most of the time they’re just embarrassed because of some temporary lack of husbandry, but their refusal to provide the truth makes fixing the critter that much harder.

Just today a fella came into the clinic with a horse that was 250 lbs underweight, and he wanted me to believe that the horse had been normal two days ago. With eyebrows raised, I looked to see if there was a bright blue star forming on his forehead.

In seemingly unrelated news …

A few Fridays ago, Emili, my oldest daughter, brought her three children over to the house to hang out. I love this. Any opportunity I get to spoil the grandbabies makes me smile.   

Early into the visit, 4-year-old Lilli came trotting across the living room and up to me with her left hand plastered across her forehead, palm down. The look on her face clearly said that she was about to ask me something important—something she knew her “Poppi” would do for her. I’d seen the look a hundred times before, but the hand on the head was new.

“Hey, Poppi! Will you make me some chocolate milk?” she asked softy with a heart-melting smile and her hand still pressed to her forehead. “Momma said it would be OK,” she reassured me.

Emili won’t let the kids drink chocolate milk at home. They just get regular milk. I like this rule because she’ll let the grandparents fix it for them a few times when they come to visit, which makes trips to our house that much more special. However, it seemed a bit odd to me that Emili would’ve approved such a request since I’d just fixed Lilli a heaping glass of chocolate milk an hour or so earlier.

“Sure! I would love to!” I replied. “But why do you have your hand smashed against your forehead?”

Before Lilli could say a word, Emili’s voice came floating in from the kitchen with that unmistakable motherly tone.

“I don’t know what she just told you, but whatever it was, she’s lying!”

Emili’s judgment rang in my ears as I looked down at Lilli, who dropped her arms to her sides and let out an exaggerated sigh as she left the room.   

What the heck had just happened? How could Emili have known Lilli was lying? I was sure she couldn’t have heard Lilli from the kitchen—Lilli had been speaking softly, while I had been using my normal voice. Why did Lilli walk away so gutted?

Mind reading or mom tricks?

I ambled into the kitchen and found Emili giggling to herself. She was cooking something and had flour all over her hands and cheeks, and her smile brought back memories of when she was Lilli’s age.

“What did she ask you?” Emili queried, still grinning.  

“Wait,” I said, shaking my head. “There’s no way you heard what Lilli asked me from all the way in here. She said it so softly I had to bend over to hear it!”

I went on to explain that Lilli had asked for chocolate milk—and that her mother had approved it.

My sweet daughter burst out with gut-busting laughter. She laughed long enough that I finally had to interrupt, because my curiosity was outweighing my patience.

“Well, you see,” Emili explained, “Lilli has been fibbing quite a bit, and it’s gotten to the point that I can tell she’s lying when it happens. I told her that each time she’s dishonest, a blue star appears on her forehead. She doesn’t know for sure if you can see it too, so when she asked you, she covered up her forehead just in case.”

Oh, man. We both started laughing so hard that no noise came out as we considered this 4-year-old’s desperate plotting in search of another dose of chocolate milk, knowing full well her mother wouldn’t approve, and worrying that her Poppi would see the telltale blue star.  

So as I stood there looking at the fella who assured me that his horse had lost 250 lbs in two days, I’m pretty sure I saw a blue star appear on his forehead.

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.