Thursday, August 02, 2007

In case you were wondering

Where to start? Let's see...

It has come to my attention that children (most children anyway) act better with strangers than they do with their family.

I remember sending Em off to spend the night elsewhere when she was younger, and hoping that she would not have one of "Those Moments" while she was there.

Invariably, i would hear from the elsewhere parents that "She was great. A real pleasure to have around."

We will be at a restaurant and Em will be hissing angrily at me about some injustice done to her person. The waitron will come by and fill up her water glass or some such. "Thank you," she will say very sweetly, and then go back to hissing at me.


I suppose it's all because she feels comfortable with my love or something, but i wouldn't mind a whole weekend of her "company behavior."

I was talking about this with her yesterday and i asked her why she thought this happened. She thought about it for a few moments and said, "Those other people never yell at me for anything, and i don't really care if they like me, so it's easy to be polite. I care what you think of me and i get all emo if i think you are disappointed in me."

There you have it.


Lynn said...

I am actually greatful that Ten and Twelve behave better with strangers, otherwise, they would never be invited over to anyone else's house, and I would be stuck with their incessent whining and complaining. (lol)

How wonderful that Em is able to put into words, what she is thinking and feeling, and how great it is that she is willing to share her thoughts with you. You clearly rock as a mom! (no Meanest Mom in the world award for you!)

flutter said...

Ok, that is actually incredibly sweet in a totally hormonal, teenagery emo kind of way

Anonymous said...

"...i get all emo if i think you are disappointed in me."

Oh, my. Isn't that worth its weight in gold? Because even if a lot of teens think that, they are far more likely to give you the impression that they think their parents are perfectly worthless and do nothing but interfere with their freedom, etc., etc. So, yeah, that is totally cool that she realized that and could give a voice to it.

You must be doing all the right Mom stuff. :-)))

Anonymous said...

When I felt that my parents were disappointed in me, I punished myself.

Mrs. Chili said...

WOW! Meno! You are a super-parent to have raised a TEENAGER who can be mindful enough to recognize that, never mind one who's eloquent enough to EXPRESS it!

Does it make you feel any better when you're putting up with her shit, though?

Susanne said...

I might have to turn around that answer of Em in my head for the next few days.

I used to complain about my son always being on his best behavior with strangers until a friend of mine told me to be grateful because there is that other kind of child, the one who is quite pleasant at home and acts terrible in public. I never complained about that again.

I just complain about him being impolite and "emo" at home...

AC said...

I am beyond impressed at Em's awareness and at the quality of your relationship with her. I believe that is what mine would say too if she could calm down enough and quit squealing long enough to think and speak without sputtering. I'm going to take comfort in that thought.

I have a site that you and Em should see - I thought of you immediately when another blogger buddy pointed it out The Grammar Vandal -- the blog of a woman who travels with Sharpie, correcting errors. "Taking it to the Streets and Correcting America, One Well Placed Comma at a Time".

Guilty Secret said...

That is so cool how she explained it like that instead of just grunting at you!

Liv said...

It really is a testament to your phenomenal parenting over the years that she is so honest, open, and real with you.

Marshamlow said...

Thank you, that was lovely.

thailandchani said...

None of us treat our close friends and family with the same level of consideration we would people we don't know.

That always struck me as odd, too... but I get her point.



meno said...

lynn, you are right about being glad that they are pleasant with others. It's a relief to know that somewhere inside they are listening to what we tell them. There are times when i am at LEAST a finalist for meanest mom.

flutter, it is pretty sweet. She's a good kid.

ortizzle, that's how i acted, as if i didn't care. And i disappointed my mom so often that i came to not care so much.

de, i punished myself with thoughts, for a time.

mrs.chili, i am not a super-parent, otherwise there would be less need to wonder why she is yelling at me. :) But i know what you mean, she is pretty articulate.

susanne, that is a scary thought. I wonder if those are the ones having the full-on tantrums at the store.

ac, that looks like fun! We will check it out. Em loves that book "Eats, shoots and leaves."

guilty, oh words are never much of an issue with her, that's for sure. :)

liv, stop it, you are making me blush! I am not any more phenomenal that you are, Em makes it pretty easy for me.

marsha, there is hope!

Girlplustwo said...

exactly. you are her safest space. for some reason we all treat that space worse sometimes.

TTQ said...

One of those e-mails (or meme's) was going around on which one of the questions was: "who are you most scared of?" I answered "my mommy". Then sent it merrily along it's way copying the person who first sent, which I think was my mom. She asked me a week or so later why I was scared of her. I had totally forgotten about it..but I told her you are the one person I really want to be proud of me and I don't want to dissappoint you...

Schmoopie said...

Children learn, at a very early age, to "put on a face" for strangers. They watch us, as we put on our faces, and they model that behavior. I see this every day as I take my 2 year old "students" out for visits with the elderly residents. They'll be throwing a fit for me and a minute later, when confronted with having to say hello to a resident, they smile and shake hands. It's interesting to observe this swift turnaround. I agree that it is all about the comfort level.

What has scared me is my daughter's ability to be talking about someone and that person will call or show up and she will switch gears and be able to speak sweetly to that person (my mother-in-law is a good example.) I guess she has learned how to put on a brave face so to speak!

the moose buyer said...

I remember when my daughter was 11 and her school secretary called me to tell me that Stacy won the student of the month award for her behavour and invited me to attend the ceremony.

My immediately reply to her was "Stacy who"

See all parents feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

I've observed that behavior in my own little darlings, and I've hit on a parenting plan. It's called Musical Kids.

See, you send your kids on to some other parents, who send their kids on to some others, and so on. The kids behave for a few days, and then when they start settling in and talking back, they are sent on to the next set. And in the meantime, you are taking care of somebody else's polite children.

It's a bit of a pyramid scheme, so you'll want to get in on it early. Any takers?

urban-urchin said...

yep- that's it in a nutshell. they lash out because they're safe here.

i'm glad mine is well behaved with others. they don't have as much invested in her and would write her off if she was an ass with them. Me? I can take it. (and give her consequences to deal with it as well).

ms chica said...

This mindful politeness isn't the exclusive domain of teenagers, and kids. My in-laws are nicer to strangers and acquaintances. They regard it as their God-given right to treat family like crap. Their logic isn't nearly as thoughtful as Em's either. They consider it an entitlement from the "I am master of my domain" attitude.

Mother of Invention said...

Well, at least it's coming from a good place and she does want to please you. It's that familiarity thing..parents are everyday people andcan get on your nerves and push certain buttons to get your ire up, whereas there are no previous issues with other people, even grandparents. My nieces used to act up as soon as their parents walked in the door at my mom and dad's. We tend to tune out the people who are around us all the time. Just like at school where your kids behave better for another teacher or a supply teacher than they do for you, who have them all day all year!

QT said...

This is so true. Plus, I think for younger children, they don't know the boundaries yet. I am a super-strict auntie, and I get model behavior UNTIL my SIL arrives on the scene. Then her child turns into a complete monster.

Em is quite an insightful girl. You should be proud -well, of course you are!

meno said...

chani, it's sad, but you are right. I guess we feel like we still have a chance to impress strangers. :)

jen, i wish that weren't so, but i guess if we couldn't vent somewhere, we might explode.

ttq, see? Em was right!

schmoopie, wow, this is something we already know at age 2! That's impressive.

moose buyer, What a great reaction! Stacy who? Ha ha. Yes, we are all this way, not just kids.

nancy, i am in! Although maybe i should rethink that. I remember when Em was little and would go visit her grandparents for a few days. When she got home she would kind of lose it from having been good for so long.

u-u, consequences are key, even at home. I want other people to think well of my daughter, so it's good that she behaves with them.

ms. chica, and you married into this family voluntarily? :)

moi, good point about the issues and button-pushing.

qt, oooh, you meanie! I think it's good if they are a bit uncertain as to what you might do. Gives you an edge.

luckyzmom said...

My feet hurt just now also. So I am genuinely empathetic.

The first teacher conference I ever went to for my daughter, I truly believed the teacher was talking about someone elses child, who was a joy to have and an excellent role model for the other kids. As I kept getting the same story from her teachers I decided that she was contrary at home because she needed someplace to let it all hang out. Her Dad always said that everyone else got the "cutes" and we didn't get the cutes until she moved out! So, I empathize with you there too!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I have two daughters. This makes everything clear, sort of.

I agree with Chani - too often, the worst behaviors are saved for those nearest and dearest.

Anonymous said...

I get it, I really do. I just wish my 11 yr old pre-emo would skip this phase. I'll be checking for tips and updates as mine gets older.

ms chica said...

I voluntarily married the compassionate man who was also a most excellent lay. His parents are what I would politely regard as an unintended consequence. See it is true; it will make you go blind : )

amusing said...

Taking notes....

Joan said...

I think Em exhibits the same kind of insight that her mother has! How amazing for someone that young!!!

Anonymous said...

Mine is exactly the same but yet again I find myself in awe of your parenting skills in that Em realises what she's doing and is articulate enough to be able to give a reason why. The stock answer that I get is "I dunno"!

Bobealia... said...

I hope your feet feel better now. I am harder on my mother than anyone else and I love her more than anyone else too.

lu said...

Wouldn't it be awful if our children were always polite and reserved - Oh, but I too long for more peaceful moments, still, I'd curl up and die if they couldn't bare all of their humanity with me.

Looking forward to the pictures from your trip to the beach!

meno said...

luckyzmom, The Mister and i had hiked 9 miled that day, with much altitude gain, we were tired. I like the term "the cutes."

hearts, as clear as a teenager's emotions. Like mud. :)

my pool, i am sure that your child will be the first in history to skip this emo stuff. No, really!

ms. chica, i KNEW there must be a good reason!

amusing, yes, you can take notes, but dammit if they all aren't different.

joan, she can balance these incredible moments of insight with moments of wild selfishness and brattiness. In other worlds, completely normal.

platypus, i think Em is a year or two older, that does help.

bo, my feet are better, despite a 6 mile barefoot walk on the beach this morning.

lu, strangely enough, it would be awful. But once in a while i do get to see that polite child, it's pretty nice.

Andrea Frazer said...

That is very telling. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I love "emo."

As a former child care provider, I always enjoyed telling shocked parents that their kids ate spinach for lunch and spent the rest of the day sharing and reading the dictionary. Oh, and doing the dishes. Nice kids.