I apparently have the child who says the wrong thing at the wrong time! My son, Quinton, who is now seven, has had this wonderful talent since he was about two years old. Now let me give a little background first. I was a single mom for the first four and a half years of his life, so we had always done things our way, and being the mom that I am, I raise my child very differently then most people.
One of the biggest differences is that I have always talked to my son as if here were able to understand everything I say, and as if he were my intellectual equal, and so have all of my friends. My son has always been respectful, but he also has always seemed to have an inborn understanding of who is worthy of that respect, and the difference in playing with a buddy (no matter how old the buddy is, since most of his friends were my age since they were my friends) and dealing with an adult in charge of him. But we have had a few issues ...
When my son was four, one day we were over at my Mother’s house Quinton was playing with my friend Reese. Reese is a lifetime loser; we all know this about him but we love him anyway, its just who he is. He’s the twenty-four-year-old who has never had a driver’s license, car, his own apartment, or held a job for more then a month or two ... he’s just a loser. Well I walk into my mother’s living room just in time to hear Reese ask Quinton what he wants to be when he grows up.
To which Quinton replies, “Anything you’re not.”
I am ready to really ream my child for being so rude and mean when Reese says, “Well that is about the smartest thing you could ever do, little buddy.”
What was I supposed to say at that point? well rather then making an issue of it then I chose to talk to him about it later and let him know that saying something like that to someone, whether it is True or not is just mean and that it wasn’t appropriate. Quinton said he understood and I forgot about it.
Well recently my husband and I (same as previous boyfriend) moved to NC, since he is Active Duty army. While here, I have made friends with a woman who has a seven-year-old little girl, and the kids quite often play together, and get along pretty well, but from the very beginning it was obvious that they are very different kids. Quinton is a very intelligent, pretty mellow little boy. He is the child who at three learned that the word hideous meant the same as ugly, and so for months all he said was hideous.
This little girl (we’ll call her Mary) is the seven-year-old version of Dori (Finding Nemo) meets cheerleader ... she is a flighty little girl who has a LOT of energy and not a lot of attention span—exceedingly sweet and adorable, but not really focused.
One night Mary’s mom was watching my kids for me and when she brought them home, she told me that in the car on the way home she had a conversation with my son that went something like this:
Q: Miss April, Mary and I are that same age but we’re kinda different, aren’t we? I mean she’s not as smart as I am, is she?
April: That is very rude. You can’t say things like that about my daughter.
Q: I didn’t mean to be rude, Miss April. It’s just that it seems to me that Mary acts like she’s five and I act like I am ten ... I didn’t mean that she was dumb, just that because I act older I am a little smarter.
April: I am NOT discussing this with you. I will talk to your mother about it.
Now when she explained this to me, my first thought was that my son had made a very astute observation, which April and myself had made one day several months before hand, and April herself has several times made comments about how much smarter Quinton is then her daughter. But I also realized that my son had offended her. So I asked what about it bothered her, the fact that he had said this to her, or what he had said. She explained that it was the fact that he had matter of factly discussed her daughter with her as if he was an adult with the right to do so.
I apologized that he had offended her, but pointed out that he had never said any of this in front of her daughter, never treats her daughter as if she were inferior in any way, and was just trying to understand the situation. I told her I would discuss it with him, but that I didn’t really feel as if he had done anything wrong because he had assessed a situation, and then proceeded to ask an adult about his assessment to understand if he was correct. He wasn’t saying anything to be mean or malicious; instead he was wanting to determine if his understanding was accurate.
Have you ever had a similar situation? How do you explain to a bright child that they cant be as blunt as all that and still teach them the value of being honest? How do you smooth over the ruffled feathers of a parent who is offended by the way that you raise your child?