I have learned the hard way that you need to be very careful what you say in front of your kids. Kids have large mouths and don’t always understand the concept of not repeating what Mommy and Daddy say…especially when it’s about someone else.
I know, I know…we teach our children not to talk negatively about someone else, however, at the same time, I am teaching my kids to express themselves. Yah, that’s what I am going with.
Okay, so it has been three times (not that I am counting) that my kids repeated something I said and in fact, all three times to the person I said it about. You would think I would learn my lesson by now but I feel like whatever is said in the house should stay in the house. Clearly my kids don’t subscribe to the same theory.
In all seriousness though, I do really believe we need to teach our kids about the concept of keeping things to themselves, whether it’s something a parent, sibling, relative or friend tells them. Of course, that comes with also teaching them about when it is okay to tell, but that’s a whole other article.
Let me get to the good stuff and these are good…trust me:
When we first moved into our house about eight years ago, we had some issues with a neighbor a few houses away. To make a long story short, they were annoyed that some of our guests had been parking in front of their house (big whoop) and called the police multiple times on us. Should I not be allowed to have people over? Where are they all expected to park? Here I was hosting a Mommy and Me event at my home with a bunch of moms and their babies, most of whom I had just met, while the police were knocking at my door and my neighbor was outside screaming at me. Totally ridiculous! In any case, we experienced many more knocks on the door, slashed tires (they claim it wasn’t them…hmmm) and plenty of dirty looks.
At that point, I think it was fair to tell my kids to stay far away from these people and proceeded to engage in a conversation with my husband about these folks not being in their right mind. Fast forward a few years since all of these incidents occurred and I get a phone call letting me know a package was sent to their house instead of ours Why they didn’t just walk over and place it on my porch, I don’t know, but I had to get my package. Since so much time had passed, my anger had subsided a bit and I went over with a smile and a good attitude, or at least that was the plan.
My son and I walked over, rang the bell and was greeted with surprisingly friendly hellos. Here comes the good part: I thanked them and as we turned around to leave, my son, who was probably five or six at the time, said in a loud voice…wait for it….wait for it…, “See mom, they are not mean people like you said”. Seriously? I wanted to crawl into a deep deep hole.
As I sped walked down their driveway, my overly loud response was, “What are you talking about…Mommy never said that…you are being so silly,” but if you could see my facial expression, it definitely didn’t match my tone. You better believe I had a talk with my son about over-sharing in public along with having to explain why Mommy lied.
Going out to dinner with my family of five is always interesting. Ordering is a long process as my three kids keep changing their minds along with the fact that I ask a few questions…okay, maybe a lot of questions, which drives my husband nuts. This is usually his cue to get up and go to the bathroom to save him the embarrassment of belonging to our crew.
A few years back while out to Habachi, the waitress had to deal with our restaurant shenanigans and looked less than thrilled she was lucky enough to get our table. While she walked away to place our order, my husband explained to all of us that our ordering skills needed work. I got the usual speech about making it simple and not asking if a fish is fishy or which meal she likes better. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if either the cook or the waitress spit in our food. On a side note, does that really happen? G-D I hope not because if so, I have most likely eaten a ton of food garnished with the cooking staff’s saliva. EW!
So…when the waitress came back, my son, yes the same one who opened his mouth to my neighbors, asked the waitress if she was going to spit in our food. I think at that point, my husband was already in the car driving home. I had to act quickly and play dumb. “What? Why would she do that? What are you even talking about”, while again, staring at him with the intent to destroy. Really?
Let’s just say if she wasn’t planning on spitting in my food before, the odds just got greater. I left hungry. I once again had that discussion with my son about over-sharing, which clearly did not resonate the first time.
This is the most recent incident and in my mind, takes the cake. We just hired a new sitter which is always a hard transition, especially when our old sitter was with us for a while and a complete dream. She was amazing with the kids, always on time (if not early), reliable and tidied up the house to the point where it was sparkling. During the hiring process I asked our new sitter if she had any issues with cleaning up after the kids and tidying up the house in general. Her reply was, “no”. When I came home the first time she came over to sit for us, I walked into the kitchen and my eyes nearly fell out of their sockets. There were napkins on the floor, a toddler seat turned upside down…it was not a pretty site. Luckily, my dirty martinis at dinner allowed me to have an “I’ll worry about it tomorrow morning” attitude.
In her defense, the house was a disaster when I left but I got so spoiled with my old sitter, I guess I assumed this new sitter would also be horrified by my house, feel so bad for me and get straight to work as soon as the kids passed out. No, not a likely scenario? Let me also say I am a neat freak Monday through Friday but come Saturday, I am off duty. The kids are all home and it’s not worth going nuts about cleaning up. So by the time the sitter comes at 6PM, the house is a disaster.
However, the last thing I want to do at 11PM on a Saturday night is wash dishes and put my kitchen back to order. There was no sparkle…only a cloud of dust. I felt weird saying anything because she was hired to watch my kids, keep them safe and entertain them, which she did and did well, so was it worth it to point out the tidying up part? She is so sweet that I couldn’t bare to say anything, but the next day upon talking with the kids to see how the night went, it slipped. I couldn’t help myself from mentioning the house was a mess and the boys should have helped her clean it up. It became an in-depth conversation with an audience that was so agreeable, it was hard to shut it down.
Fast forward to the next Saturday night and as we are all standing in the kitchen going over bed times, my nine year old says, “you know, my mom was really annoyed at you that last weekend you left the house a complete mess”. Um….um….??? I was face to face with this young, innocent, sweet baby sitter and froze. Again, I had to lie to get my way out of this horrible situation. “I never said that…YOU guys should have helped tidy up the house, right? When I get home, please make sure the house is in respectable condition boys….right?”
I was looking at and talking to my kids but of course trying to send a subliminal message to the sitter. I was so embarrassed and had a serious talk with my kids the next day about repeating what Mommy and Daddy say in the privacy of our own home. Oh and we also talked again about when it’s okay to lie…let me clarify…when it’s okay for Mommy to lie.
Should I be talking negatively about someone in front of the kids? Probably not, but I also didn’t realize they were human tape recorders (I just seriously dated myself) that could go off at any time. In scenario #1, there was nothing I could do about the situation. They were in fact, not nice to us when we first moved in, so they should not have been surprised to hear my opinion of them. I guess I could have said something like, “Mommy was upset since we had some issues with them in the past but it seems like they are indeed lovely people”, but I have no regrets.
In scenario #2, I learned that kids take things literally and don’t always understand adult talk. Now we look back and have a good laugh about it.
In scenario #3, I would have liked to have been honest and said, “I am so sorry and I am really embarrassed right now but the truth is our last sitter did such a great job of cleaning up, I guess I am not used to anything else. While the kids are asleep, whatever you feel comfortable doing would be really appreciated,” but I couldn’t think fast enough. I think my humiliation for being exposed and my disdain towards my son at the moment caused me to deny deny deny.
I’m sure there will be many more times in the future my kids sell me out. Clearly, I need to think before I speak and set a better example for my kids. When I am called out on something, and I know full well I will be in the near future, I plan on owning it and being honest, which is what I try to teach them.
In summary, loose lips sink ships and while I like the ocean, I really don’t want to be floating around with the sharks.
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!™