I was thinking about being sneaky yesterday, and for some reason, the old Mad Magazine comic strip came to mind, “Spy Versus Spy“. I thought about the White Spy and the Black Spy sneaking around, in an endless battle to do the other in. That gave me a chuckle. But as I thought about the nature of sneakiness, my smile faded.
In the final evaluation, while it’s fun to play by “sneaking around” — think “Hide & Seek”, or “Capture the Flag” — and while being sneaky is necessary in the context of planning a surprise party (birthday, retirement, anniversary, etc.), it’s decidedly not a good practice otherwise.
Being sneaky with family and friends is dishonest. It’s being dishonest with them, and it’s being dishonest with yourself (unless deceit is your MO). What are some examples of the sneakiness of which I speak?
Eating cookies on the sly from the cookie jar or the pantry when you know you’re not suppose to. That’s being sneaky.
Watching videos on your smart phone or tablet under the covers when you’re supposed to be going to sleep. That’s being sneaky.
Cheating on homework. That’s being sneaky. Your kids hiding their gaming from you. That’s being sneaky. So is “sneaking” out of the house. Habitually buying things on-line and hiding them from your spouse. That’s sneaky. Hiding secret messages is being sneaky too.
In fact, the word “secret” is a good corollary word to consider when talking about being sneaky. Being sneaky is a parallel skill to keeping secrets.
My wife wisely started teaching our kids at their still very young age that having secrets isn’t a good idea, overall. Being secret means keeping information away from other people. Within a family, that’s not only a bad idea, it’s potentially hurtful and damaging and mean.
With family and friends, the very purpose of those relationships is to nurture and strengthen and support each other. Transparency and honesty are critically important. Sharing experiences and feelings and thoughts strengthens the bonds with family and friends. Secrets are damaging to relationships. Pile up enough secrets, and the bond is weakened. Ultimately a relationship will be destroyed by secrets, crushed under the weight of dishonesty.
So unless you’re planning a surprise party or playing Hide & Seek with your kids, don’t be sneaky.