You know what they say about how kids are like sponges – they absorb your words and actions and learn from them? Well – pay heed, my friends. If you’re always well-mannered and easygoing, always kind to others, never say a profane word, never lose your shit on stupid drivers, and never have an ill-timed meltdown, then this isn’t for you. For everyone else – read on.
I’ve known for years that my 9-year-old daughter couldn’t keep a secret if her life depended on it. I don’t even remember when I knew – perhaps it was when she told her then 8-year-old brother about a Christmas gift she’d seen for him. But I have learned not to punctuate any piece of information with “it’s a secret.” I attributed it to her age, being so young and not understanding what is and is not appropriate to share. However, she hasn’t changed her M.O. and I know better than to say anything in front of her that I don’t want anyone else to know.
Case in point: I know way more about what’s going on in her dad’s life than I care to. She tells me everything. And I have to remind her that that’s her dad’s business and that I’m sure he would prefer that not be shared with me, or anyone else for that matter. That I don’t need to know what’s happening in his personal life, unless he wants to tell me himself. (And, let’s face it, I really don’t want to know then either.)
The real underlying problem with her lack of discrimination is that it’s hereditary. Her dad used to be (and I say “used to” because we are no longer married and I have no idea if he’s changed) (stop sniggering – you know who you are) very nosy about other’s lives, gossipy, and worse – downright judgmental. So I fear that she is becoming that way and I want to yank that train to a screeching halt. She is very inquisitive – but there is a very fine line between inquisitive and (as Todd always says) noneya.
What did [the tenant] say about the dogs in the garage? Noneya.
Where is [family friend] going? Noneya.
But instead, I start with something more like – that doesn’t concern you. Or, that’s an adult conversation you aren’t involved in. Or, it’s really none of your business. And when all else fails – NONE YA.
So, anyway, imagine the mild-mannered me, otherwise having a lovely day, driving the kids home from their dad’s, enjoying the luxury of heated seats on a frigid evening, the 80s-on-8, Ava in the backseat regaling me with tales from 4th grade, and Owen up front, next to me, bobbing his head to the beat inside his Skull Candy. The roads are clear and I’m traveling a safe distance behind a car driving the speed limit. Cue asshole Jeep from nowhere. The headlights were coming up fast behind me, and I knew it was a Jeep because hello! Everyone knows a Jeep. So I’m watching my rear view to see at what point he slows down. Apparently, safe driving distance for this a-hole is – oh, I don’t know – 5 feet off my bumper.
We’ve all encountered people like this – who have to prove a point that they were traveling so much faster until they got stuck behind you. But usually they back off and put the distance between you so you can actually see their headlights again. Not this guy. He was so close to me that I couldn’t see them. I didn’t like it. And it went on like this for miles. Eventually we came upon a red light and – in not one of my proudest moments – I opened my car door and leaned out to look at him through his windshield and…. I started screaming at him that I had children in the car and *&^%$# @$%^&# %^&*(*&^$ !!! And the little bastard (cause now I saw his face and he was young) just stared passively ahead. And then the light changed. We began to move and…. He continued to ride my bumper for another several miles.
Common sense (and the State Police, by the way) will tell you to pull off and let them go around you. When I finally did, he stopped behind me on a state road and wouldn’t go around. Eventually he turned left and the nerve endings in my limbs stopped tingling. And then I realized I needed to tell my kids how wrong I was for doing what I did. How dangerous it could be. And for them not to ever do that. End of story, right?
Nope. Ava has a friendship circle once a week with her guidance counselor and 6 other girls. She came home that afternoon the week after this incident and told me that she told Mr. M what I had done and how I shouldn’t do it because it’s dangerous. But in her version I’d actually gotten out of the car (which I did not). OH. MY. GOD. If there was ever a reason to THINK before you act in front of your kids – this is The One, folks. And all I could think was, this guy is going to think I’m a nutcase – and all the credibility (and maturity) I established at the 504 meeting just went out the window. I’m still mortified from this – and it happened weeks ago.
But how could I forget it, since Ava told me on Tuesday that she told Mr. M that I broke my toe and “he felt so sorry for you”? Oh Lord. I’m never walking into that building again.
The lesson here is two-fold. One – be careful what you say/do in front of your kids. Two – teach them a lesson for being a busy-body and telling all. No conversations are sacred in this house – and Todd and I have taken to the bedroom to have them when we want privacy. But we are working on a lesson for her that will hopefully shut down Little Miss National Enquirer. Stay tuned.
Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip. ~ Will Rodgers