Okay, so I go to pick up my little one from school every day. While I wait for the enormous school gates to open and for the happy children running out of like long time prisoners coming out of a jail; I chit-chat with fellow parents who have similarly braved the afternoon sun to take their little ones back to the safety of their homes. So during our talk one day, the conversation veered toward a birthday party we had all attended the previous evening at my friend’s home. Some of us moms who were close friends had also been invited for the party along with our children; while some other kids were dropped off by their parents and picked up later.
At the party, we had all seen a certain boy misbehave all through the party and generally act as a nuisance more than anything else. I know, I know it sounds rude when I put it like that; but seriously, we had seen this boy beat other children during the party, push other children, and even bite some of them! Unfortunately, his mom wasn’t present at the party; he was dropped off and picked up by his dad; so no one mentioned anything to him. And the matter would’ve ended there – after all, we have all seen our share of mischievous kids – but then the boy’s mother came to school that day and asked a question no mom wants to hear the real answer to – “How was he at the party yesterday?”
Now, as a law student I was taught one rule when asking questions of a witness in court – never ask a question you do not know the answer to. When motherhood came calling; I modified the same to – never ask a question you don’t really want to know the answer to! But obviously, this mom was made of stronger stuff; and for better or for worse; she asked this question! And my friend, never someone to mince her words; told her about her son’s misbehavior. To her credit, the mom in
question was pretty stoic about it; and once again, we all thought the matter had ended there.
But later in the day, I received a message from my friend that this mom had gotten in touch with her on WhatsApp and had been upset with her about saying that her son misbehaved. First of all, she just couldn’t believe that her son can behave that badly; and even if he did, what was so wrong in that, she wanted to know. Wasn’t he just a child? And hadn’t her (my friend’s) children too misbehaved when they were called for birthday parties to her (the said mom’s) house? She even went as far as to tell my friend that she didn’t wish to be friends with her anymore! “I stand by my son,” she said; “and I don’t want to be friends with you anymore if this is how you are going to
talk about him!”
Needless to say, my friend is shocked; and feels really sad about the whole thing. But what astonishes me, is that there are such parents around! Okay, no one likes to hear wrong about one’s own child, I agree. But that does it mean that you just go ahead and break friendship with anyone who even points out a mistake or two of your child; or informs you of their misbehavior that they’ve noticed in your absence? Defending our children before strangers is one thing; but not being able to handle the truth, (when the child is not even present) is something I don’t understand.
I am not judging the mom here, but I did feel she could’ve handled the situation better. And in any case, whether she disciplines her child in the privacy of her home or not; she surely could have handled the situation with my friend – a fellow mom – definitely better. Why shoot the messenger? And how does such a behavior on her part help her child, anyway? Won’t it teach him to come running to Mumma every time someone points a finger at him? How will he ever understand that he did something wrong and others had to suffer for it; and that he needs to change his behavior to more socially acceptable levels?
But that’s just me. What do you think? Is this what we call standing up for our children?
Rashmi is a devoted mum and an avid reader. When she is not engrossed in a book or attending to the whims of her spirited offspring, she indulges in creative writing and blogging. She was a lawyer once, much before she surrendered to motherhood and took up writing. Today, she is a regular contributor to lifestyle, parenting and e-learning websites; and has created FindMyRead – a vibrant community of book lovers! To read more from Rashmi, visit her blogs Ramblings et al and Find My Read.