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.