A few weeks ago I had an experience with another mother that, well, rubbed me the wrong way. I've been considering whether or not to blog about it...here we go...
So, while at a gathering of children and adults Claire was having a great time hanging out with a child that is older than she is; more than twice her age, actually. Claire loves this little girl, I mean loves her. She wants to wear the clothes and shoes she wears, play with the toys she plays with, eat the food she eats...you get the idea. If you asked her, she'd probably say she wants to be her when she grows up.
I'm sure this isn't exactly the best time for the older child, though. We'll call her Amelia*. Claire's little. She sort of understands sharing and taking turns. She mostly just says, "Amelia's turn." Then cries until it's her turn again. She'll do it, but she doesn't have to like it. I'm sure Claire's not that much fun to play with, but Amelia graciously indulges her. They play house, dolls, hide-n-seek, torture the cats, and all sorts of other fun games.
So, in the midst of Amelia and Claire playing/fighting/running amuck another mother(not Amelia's) says to me, "Wow, Claire's really has a jealousy thing with Amelia, doesn't she." See how there's no question mark at the end of this? It's not a question, it's a statement.
I didn't really know how to respond to this statement. It seemed all at once condescending, hateful, off-base, and just down-right mean. The word "jealous" has such negative connotations. Claire's not jealous of Amelia. She looks up to her. She's her hero and her mentor. Claire wants Amelia to be her bestest friend in the whole wide world forever and ever and ever. She's not jealous of her though. Can a 2 year old even be jealous? This implies a level of cognition that I don't think we gain until young adulthood.
So, as the day continued, this mom proceeded to scold my child for "crowding" Amelia when Claire wanted to sit next to her and the like. I had to take a few deep breaths.
I'm not sure why this got under my skin so much, but it did. I guess the moral of the story is to be careful how you word things when talking to people about their children. Is this really a lesson that any of us need, though?
Frankly, I would never say to a friend or an enemy that their child was jealous of mine, or anyone else's child for that matter. A statement like this seems to be more of a projection than an observation. Keep the kids out of it, please.
I feel like I often hear other parents criticizing kids when what they really want to do is criticize the other parents and their parenting. Own it. If you're going to be that person that criticizes another mom or dad, do it, but don't try to back into by saying something about the kid.
Wow, Sally is really aggressive. Translation: I can't believe you're letting your child push the other kids around in the sandbox.
Has Danny always been so loud? Translation: Can't you keep your kid quiet?
Jenny really likes animals doesn't she? Translation: Your kid is weird and keeps harassing my pet.
At any rate, I'm not sure what the other mother was implying when she made her comment about Claire, but whatever it was, it was neither correct, nor any of her business. She is most certainly not jealous of another child unless that child lives with Caillou, himself...then she might be a smidge jealous.
Thanks blog-o-sphere for letting me get that out of my system. You're a gem.
Stay tuned for my next post...I'm writing about children's rooms that look like strip clubs...get excited!
*Name changed to protect the innocent.