Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Be careful what you say...

It's a well-known fact that you must never tell children what you really think. Or in fact, you must never reveal the full truth about so many things, whether it be that Father Christmas couldn't possibly deliver presents to so many children in such a short space of time, or that the scribble they have so expertly penned isn't quite as artistic as your loud exclamations made it seem.

Our job as parents is to protect our children from the harsh realities of life. When the saucepan lid is dropped on our un-slippered feet, the piercing protestation which we would once have uttered with great applomb, suddenly becomes,


for fear of inappropriate repetition at precisely the wrong moment.

But on occasion, all our good intentions become unravelled in a millisecond. And I'm not talking about the moment that our beloved toddler shouts 'BUGGER' when they drop their rattle in the supermarket. These moments are pure genius and are to be cherished, I can assure you.

This one, however, is not.

For the past couple of weeks Renée has been uncharacteristically quiet. And for a child whose most common ailment is a touch of verbal diarrhoea, this has come as something of a shock, if not a welcome relief.

I initially put it down to a combination of a cold and end-of-term fatigue. But on closer investigation it seemed that something else entirely was responsible.

"Mummy, I used to have two best friends", she muttered quietly a couple of days ago.

"That's right darling, you did." I was absentmindedly stirring the pasta and it took a while to register.

"Did? You mean you don't any more?"

She looked down at her feet and wiped away something invisible on her dress.

"Now I've only got one."

"What do you mean darling?" I stopped stirring the pasta, knelt down in front of her and raised her chin a little, just enough for her to look at me.

What I saw almost broke my heart.

A quivering bottom lip, red-rimmed eyes already beginning to fill with tears and a tiny five-year-old totally distraught at the injustice of life.

It transpires that one of Renée's best friends, Miss A, has told Renée that she doesn't want to be her friend any more, that she doesn't like her and that if she does anything wrong, Miss A willl go straight to the teacher and tell on her.

Now I know it's commonplace for friends to fall out with each other, especially when they're so young (I mean, Hell, it even happens when we're adults), but when you have a sobbing little girl in your arms, all your motherly instincts go into overdrive and you'll say anything to make it better.

Of course, what I should have said was this.

"Try not to be sad darling. I'm sure she doesn't mean it. Find someone else to play with and she'll want to be your friend again soon."

What I said instead was this.

"Well that's just typical isn't it? Well, I never liked Miss A. She's very mean. In fact, she's horrible and I never could see why you liked her. And I definitely won't be inviting her round to this house again. You have plenty of other friends who I like and we'll invite them round instead. Miss A is mean and horrible and I don't like her."

The good thing is, it made Renée feel much better and her tears soon went away.

The bad thing is, I hadn't really thought much further than that. That is, until I picked Renée up from school the following day.

"How was school darling?" I asked.

"It was ok", she replied. "I told Miss A that you didn't like her, you thought she was horrible and that she's not invited to our house ever again. She said she was going to tell her Mummy".


Now I'm not quite sure why I didn't think she'd repeat it, but we all live and learn. I certainly won't be making that mistake again.

Now all that's left for me to do is to patch up yet another friendship.


  1. Ack. My 5 year old has been through a similar situation on and off and it's really knocked her confidence. I have managed to keep my mouth shut, but the husband is quite verbal about his opinions.

    The friend in question whispers in her ear that she's going to do this that and the other and then wanders off leaving my daughter upset.

    She's known the child since she was born and her mother is my best friend, so it's a difficult situation. I am very open with her mother that there is a situation and it's making my child upset.

  2. Oh that did make me giggle. Funny how they always remember things you don't want them to but never the "always do your coat up and put on your hat when you go out to play".

    Perhaps wouldn't hurt to explain to Miss A's mum the truth, if she brings it up. Wouldn't want my child acting like that, for her sake and others'.

    Good luck!

  3. Oops indeed!! Something we all do I am sure. I have done it many times, very silly of me as Amy doesn't hesitate to tell people what I think of them! I do hope Miss A's mother isn't upset with you. And if she is, at Renee has you on her side.

    Love CJ xx

  4. Ooh, just reread my hurridly written comment and wanted to clarify the bit which made me giggle (when she came out of school).

    Not your little girl being upset, obviously. That is heartbreaking.

  5. Awwwww the poor little thing - hope that everything can be patched up

  6. After making little blunders like this, I've found it best not to try and talk to the kids with tootsies in my mouth.

    ...been there, done it, look good in the t-shirt though...


  7. I would probably done exactly the same! And my daughter would probably done exactly the same as Renee!
    I hope you manage to sort it all out. It's horrid to have a upset child, and I'm sure Miss A's mother will see that :)

  8. You and your gurt mouth. Still, I'm sure it will be short-lived. As long as you didn't get personal and talk about mother's dress sense or that ghastly estate she lives in...

  9. Done it! Don't do it anymore - and nor will you! They detest eachother one day and are best friends the next - women!!! :)

  10. to be fair, what the girl said was pretty horrible. Let her face it. And her mum. Won't do any harm to face the truth. This kind of blackmailing can go off the rails too easy, it's better stoped right in the tracks.

  11. Oh no, I can totally understand why you said what you did. It's tricky trying to be diplomatic about these things. One of my friend's sons was genuinely horrible to mine once (my friend and I both witnessed it) and I didn't think she dealt with it adequately. But I couldn't really say anything and when my very uspet son kept asking me why his friend was nasty all I wanted to say was 'because he's a litle sh*t'. Sadly I couldn't.

  12. Wow, what a mix of emotions... MY lip trembled as I pictured that broken little hearted daughter and now I'm snickering. Sorry, but I'm laughing at your blunder--only because it is exactly what I would've done (and regretted as I blogged);-)

  13. Well, you gave it an admirable try. :)

    I am really dreading things like this. Right now my boys are always at home with me so there's no "social drama" in their lives ... but next year Colin starts school, and I'm already having a hard time with the realization that I won't be able to protect him from everything!

  14. Oops! But I know exactly what you mean and in that situation I would've probably blurted out the same thing! That protective instinct is so strong. Im dreading the times this happens to SC. The wise amongst us will say its all part of the growing up/learning process but I hate it! Good luck honey! xx

  15. There's a HUGE difference between what we should say and what we actually say. I did a similar thing with my 1st born, 22yr old. I have to go a long way back, as you do learn & don't recall doing it with my subsequent 3! The instinct to protect them is so, so strong. You just have to remember to be saying that stuff in your head (You nasty little ****! How dare you do this to my sweet little girl!), whilst saying something completely different out loud...Aww, the wobbly lip bit made me sad...

  16. I'm sure I would have said similar. Somehow when your child is under attack a fiercely over-protective streak sets in - it must be some instinctive lioness thing. At least you made her feel better though....

  17. Poor Renée. Why are some kids so mean? I really think it's a learned behaviour. How can it possibly be built-in to children? Good riddance to Miss A, I say.

  18. Laura - Oh well done you for holding it in. As you can see - I wasn't quite so successful! But yes, it's a good idea to be upfront with the mother - that's what I'm, ahem, planning to do if she asks me about it!!

    Deb - Don't worry - I totally got what you meant without even having to read your second comment - but bless you for coming back to clarify. Glad it made you giggle! If I hadn't been, erm, so involved - I might have found it funny too! And yes, I think, if asked, which I'm sure I will be, I will explain all...thanks!

    CJ - Yes I can imagine Amy must repeat everything you say - not easy when you have to hold your tongue. But yes, I hope she's not angry with me too - seems like I'm not being very successful on the friendship front at the moment!

    Muddling - Thanks sweetie - yes I hope so too - for all our sakes!

    Perseus - Hello and welcome. Always good to see a new face! But yes, thanks...I guess it takes a whole lifetime of being a parent to learn how to do it properly. So, I've now learnt that lesson. Now on to another one never to be repeated!

  19. Tamsin - Hi and thanks for popping by. And thanks for the empathy too - It's nice to know I'm not the only one. And yes, I'm hoping that if Miss A's mother asks me what's going on, she'll understand!!

    Maddie - Oh I love your comment. Too too funny. No, s'ok - I didn't get personal!!! Well, not exactly...

    Diney - Oh you're so right - I have well and truly learnt my lesson. I have so much still to learn - I shall come to you for advice!

    cartside - Oh bless you lovely lady. Well that's kind of what I thought in the heat of the moment as well - and especially when i saw how upset Renée was. Did feel a bit guilty about it the next day because the two girls are only 5 and I guess 5 year olds can be pretty mean to one another. And I'm the parent so I should know better! But hey, I do now! Thanks for your support honey x

    Emily O - Oh no! Your poor son. It's truly awful when you witness your children upset. As a aparent you just want to make it better, but I think I've learnt that I also need to be a bit more diplomatic. Well done you for biting your tongue - don't think I could have been so nice!

  20. ibhh - I know - I think I would have found it funny too if I hadn't been directly involved. I should have thought it through a bit better. But hey I know for next time!!!

    Rita - Oh no - you have it all to come! Ok, just brace yourself - that's my piece of advice. Oh yes, and don't do what I just did. It's far too embarrassing!

    That Girl - Oh thanks darling. Yes, was a tad silly of me in hindsight, but like you say, that maternal instinct is ever so strong. I don't think I could have bitten my lip even if I'd tried!

    Brighton Mum - Oh thanks love. Yes, it's good to know I'm not the only one who's done it - but like you say, you never did repeat the mistake, so I hope I don't either! It's extrememly hard to bite your tongue when your little one is so distraught, but i shall learn to take deep breaths and count to ten!

    Nappy Valley - Yes it's funny - Lioness was exactly how I was going to describe it in my head but then when it came to writing the post I forgot to include it. So we were on the same lines. That instinct is so strong - nature is truly amazing!

    SAHM-I-AM - I know - it always amazes me just how mean children can be. I guess they must learn it at some point - although I don't think we've reached that point in this house just yet! (Especially not with my 3-year-old who is a complete terror - but having said that, she is extremely loving and kind - just very physical)!!!

  21. Ahhhh sweetie. Your first instinct was to sooth and protect your injured little girl. I'm sure her friend's Mummy will understand if you tell her that. We all do things like this at times so don't be hard on yourself. Small children can be unbelievably cruel at times. Hugs. x

  22. Ah, no biggie. Personally, I think sometimes kids need to see us being fair-minded and rational. And other times, they need us to just show that we're TOTALLY going to stick up for them. I'm dreading this happening to Flea, I will have to restrain myself from going to dangle the offending kid by its ankles...

  23. Oh, it's so sad when friendships end, and it happens so much in the early years. Rosemary's best friends are constantly changing, but for the most part she hasn't learnt to be upset by it yet. I dread when she does. I'd tell the child's mum what you said and laugh about how your instinct is to be horrible about whoever's upset your daughter, without thinking. Or something.

    And what you said sounds like the sort of thing one would say to a girlfriend who's just been dumped. And then have to backtrack a week later, when they're back together! Which might also happen with Renée and her friend.

  24. awwww poor little one! kids can be so cruel, i would have done the same thing too.

    Some brat at jessica's school was hitting her (a boy) and i said 'give him a smack back he won't do it again' Anyway she trotted up to me after school the other day and said 'the boy hit me again, so i smacked him one and he said he was going to tell his mummy. but he didn't hit me again'

    ooops well probably not best handled by me but at least she stood up to him and won. I'm sure miss A's mum will get over it and if she doesn't then ask her why her kids is such a mean brat to your baby.

    Good on you for making her feel better about the whold thing she needed the reassurance from her mummy that it wasn't her fault, you did a good job as always xxxx

  25. Trust me - we all do stuff like this when our kids are younger. Treading their complicated social jungle is not easy and it's a learn as you go process. And for the record - I don't like Miss A either. Have a lovely christmas and thanks for all your wonderful comments and support this year. xxx

  26. Hilarious! God if only we could rewind and edit our lives, as we so blithely did in our former jobs! I seem to spend my entire life as a Mummy spending guilty and rewriting in my head what I SHOULD have done or said. Will I ever get it right?? (Or should I start saving for my kids therapy now...)

  27. Oh my! Just imagining the other little girl being told you don't like her. Serves her right though for being mean to yours! Tit for tat is sometimes a good thing!

  28. Whoops, oh well you have to laugh.

  29. Jo - Oh thanks darling. Yes, am just discovering how mean little girls can be. I thought that started later, but apparently not! It's bloody difficult being a mother sometimes isn't it?!

    Sally - Thanks sweetie - and yes that was kind of what I was hoping for - that Renée would know that I was totally on her side - it definitely worked for that moment in time because it made her feel much better. Need to think things though in the future though. Good luck when it comes to Flea's battles!

    Tasha - Yep i kind of thought that they would make it up straight away and that I'd be shame-faced, but apparently not - R still not keen for her to come over (which is totally unlike R so it makes me feel that she has a reason to be upset poor love). But yes, as with making girlfriends feel better I just think I have to be prepared for things to change again...eventually! have kind of told the mother - in a roundabout way!

    Amy - Oh you are so lovely! And hee hee to your daughter hitting that boy - good on her! Would have been funny if she had been caught by the teacher and asked why she had done it only for her to reply 'because my Mummy told me too'!! Oh we so live and learn every day...

  30. Frog - I like your empathy!! Thanks x

    Reasons - Oh darling - thank you so much. And yes, I learn about being a mother on a daily basis. Still so much more to learn! And thanks for the thanks - have been decidedly crap recently with no time for writing or commenting. Hopefully things will change in Jan and I'll be around more xxx

    Mamma Po - Oh it's all part of the fun I think. At least we have some stories to tell along the way. Although, yes, maybe I could have done with rewinding this one just a little!

    Online Mum - Oh I know - that was probably what made me feel the most hideous. The poor little lamb (she is only 5 and I'm a grown-woman who should know better)!! I'm hoping she'll forget...!

    Magnumlady - Oh you've got to haven't you? Either that or cry and I think Renée did enough of that!

  31. Oh dear. I do this all the time. It gets me in major trouble ;-)

  32. Modern Mother - Thanks for the empathy. I'm hoping that I've learned my lesson, but you never know...!

  33. Oops. This is one to file away for future reference when the girl gets to that age.

  34. Ouch! Yes, Ive learned a similar lesson and it is cringe-worthy but oh well, as you say 'live and learn'! Funny post, Im here from the Carnival and I shall stop by again! Nice to 'meet' you...

  35. Heather - Yes indeed - I wish I'd known more about the mind of an eight-year-old!!

    Michelloui - Hello lovely - and thanks for stopping by from the carnival. Yep, we do all live and learn. Unfortunately I still have so many things to learn!!