Things You Can’t Say To Even Your Closest Mum Friends #1

Amazingly Perceptive Harvey Nichols Display

True friends are honest with one another. Yeah right. It's just really hard to swing when it comes to parenting or kids, unless you are an absolute master of Dale Carnegie. Even then it's more likely you open your well-meaning mouth and your (soon-to-be former) friend goes, "Who died and made you Queen of The People With A Parenting Stick Up Their Butt?"

Hell hath no fury like a parent being critiqued. I don't know how people who work in various education jobs that require interaction with parents about their kids navigate this minefield on a daily basis because parents are nuts. (Yes, and I am a parent. It's like my girlfriend who says "I can make dead father jokes because I have one." A dead father, she means.)

But seriously, how would you handle this one?

Newly out of a job/career that had very strongly defined who I was (and frankly how I acted), I didn't always know how to behave when it came to other people's children (heck, I still don't.) So I never told my friend that on one of my first volunteer sessions after getting to know her ages ago, her child (whom I would consider very bright and yes, competitive), after being introduced to me, later deliberately cut in front of Rockstar while they were queueing to take turns playing with something - and then looked me straight in the eye and waited for my reaction. Couple times.

I..... smiled indulgently. (Stop screaming at me, you want to hear my confession or not?? It is a CONFESSION. That means I know I did wrong.)

Rockstar never noticed. He was too busy dancing about delightedly over something that day, at times horsing around with other kids, to realize what my new friend's child had done. I would have reacted differently if Rockstar had seen it, but because he didn't...... The other child however, knew exactly. That look I received... Which soon turned to delight. I believe there are kids who are bright but completely oblivious to erm, some of the more "worldly" ways, and then there are extremely street-smart kids that make me seriously marvel How On Earth Did They Learn That? It's a form of intelligence too, isn't it, you wouldn't expect a less-smart child to know how to do that... I have never been able to decide if I want Rockstar to be more or less aware of these things, because truth is there is a lot of this in the big bad world, isn't there? And awareness it exists might help you protect yourself from it better than if you just had no freaking idea...

Something in that look made me sure her child would say something at the end of the day (and to make myself feel better about my subterfuge, I figured when we became close enough friends ourselves later on, I would do right - but circumstance never brought it up again.) Sure enough, after the incident, my new friend sends this glowing message, saying how much her child loves me and how absolutely delighted she is <shame>.

And so, a budding friendship was born. We've shared so many personal stories between us since. Yet this is a no-go, maybe in part because I've somehow never talked about anything close to this before. And then... I began to hear stories of bullying incidents (her child as recipient), of various not-getting-along cases, and how unhappy her child is with various people around him/her. As told to her by her child, I mean. And at some point listening to my friend's adamant retellings, I then remembered my own encounter on a playground ages ago. And now I have a gut feeling

But how could I ever tell her, especially when it's something she feels so strongly about? In the first place I could just be totally wrong...

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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  • zmun2

    Does the mother volunteer at the school? If she does, I suspect her daughter would have done the same (cut queue) in front of her too unless the girl is smart enough not to do that in front of her mother.

    I wouldn’t know what to do too if the little girl misbehaves (cuts queue) in front of me but how about – immediately after she does it, to address all the children in the queue by saying queue properly and no cutting queues – please return to your places in the queue for those not in their previous place in the queue and look/stare specifically at her (so that she knows you meant her) and see whether she returns to her place or not on her own initiative.

    On the other hand, I guess that would not work as some of the children would be playing in the queue and not paying attention to the teacher/parent addressing them. Hhmmm, so difficult hor – to look after lots of little children. 🙁

    • Aileen

      She did used to volunteer in school too… Thing is she does show tough love in the face of naughtiness and can be quite candid about her child’s weaknesses as well as strengths (I always think v important to b realistic about your child’s weaknesses because otherwise how are you going to work at it)… Prob is I suspect she sincerely doesn’t know her child is capable of such subterfuge and it would be a huge thing for her to find out…

      Thanks for the carefully thought out input… I eventually learned to say things like “I believe it’s the YOUNGER kids who haven’t learned to share/ line up/ whatever,” or “Isn’t sharing a developmental milestone, you don’t expect babies to know how to do it yet, right?” or ask them to show me the ropes in school since they have been attending longer than I have 😛

  • CA

    Parents today (well, many of them) never believe their own darling is capable of doing anything naughty or rude, without seeing it with their own eyes and then there are some who, even with the evidence in front of them, won’t even believe it. Do and say nothing now but keep a sharp eye on her as too much time has passed and your friend may not believe it and it would be very hard to “confront” the daughter about her mistake (so mum could hear that she did push in and for the daughter to learn that she was wrong to push in ahead of Rockstar). She knew exactly what she was doing and if she does the same thing again, talk to her about it and ask her whether she thinks pushing in a queue is a nice thing to do or not.

    If your friend’s daughter’s coming home with stories of not getting along with others in the playground, suggest to your friend that she casually talks to her daughter and find out why she’s unhappy with certain people and what happened to cause those feelings. [Reading between the lines, I’m guessing the daughter’s unhappiness has perhaps stemmed from other kids not tolerating her pushiness or rudeness and they’ve told her so, but of course, I could be way off the mark.]

    • Aileen

      Hey CA, thanks for the detailed answer… I suspected the same, that the child often says he’s unhappy because others didn’t allow the misbehavior – the complaints have been not just about other kids but about grownups too, and sadly my friend has acted on such complaints before as well (which is part of the reason I procrastinated telling her when I still could)… Not that I think every single complaint is unjustified but I would have discounted some of em based on something I’d seen ages ago… Which in itself can look like a real flakey argument…