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…