At my daughter’s school, to drop her off, I saw one of her classmates miserably clinging to his mother. As we waited for the kindergarten teacher to come and take the kids, I politely inquired if the child was feeling okay. The mother said, of late, her son hadn’t been enthusiastic about school.
I thought, probably the kid was just tired, as she had mentioned about his late bedtime; I shrugged it off.
But the child broke into sobs and literally dug into his mother. My daughter tried cheering him up, but soon he got hysterical. I politely asked if she had tried to find out if the kid was having any problem at school – with learning, with a classmate, or with the teacher. She dismissed my concern and said he was just acting up.
Then she told her son to go to the class with his teacher and soon after, she would come get him. I inquisitively looked at her and she whispered to me: “That’s the only way I can trick him to attend school”. But the child had seen through his mother’s daily lying exercise. “Mummy, you are lying, you won’t come back,” he sobbed between huge tears. She answered back with a laugh, “No I am not lying; I will come get you, just now.”
She left her shrieking child with the kindergarten teacher. I felt a knot in my stomach.
I am not judging her.
For I am not the world’s perfect mother:
I don’t have answers to all the questions parenting poses. Like any parent, I go through I-am-doing-great moments and Uh-goodness-I-must-be-the-worst-mother on the planet moments. I seek answers myself – from other parents, in person or online – to learn and draw from the experiences of other parents. I love to connect with parent bloggers who are honest, forthright and write with sincerity, who don’t paint a rosy picture of parenting, who admit their failures (and fatigue) but also celebrate the fun and contentment that comes with raising a child.
I never judge other parents, for I know every child is unique, and a parent knows their child the best. What works for my child might not work for theirs. Sharing experiences is a great way, so we all are free to draw what works for us. So who am I to tell the mother of the little boy what to do? I am sure she is a great parent; I’ve never felt any sense of alarm from her. Probably she is right, her son just wants an excuse to miss school, for whatever reason.
I hate giving parenting advice:
But there is one thing I’d like to say to the mother of that child: please don’t lie to your child, even if he is just five. I am not talking about there-is-no-more-candy lies, but lies that can break the trust and heart of a young child.
I am sure there’s something that is bothering the little mind of your son. He trusts you, his mother, completely – that is why the poor child clings to you every morning and pleads with you not to let him go. You are the best judge to figure out the reason, but I can clearly see you are losing his trust: he already knows his mother lies every morning, because when you say you will come get him, you never do. Your five-year old calls you a liar and you are okay with it?
Well, I am not. That is one promise I’ve made to myself: to try and win the trust of the two little hearts I parent. When I tell my daughter, I will come pick her, I do. When I can’t, I tell her I can’t. She can throw a tantrum all she wants, but I never lie.
There are times I can’t keep a promise, it happens. But it doesn’t happen because I lie about it. If it happens, I apologize, (I really do!) and try and explain to my five-year old why mummy couldn’t keep the promise. I remind her that most of the times adults try, but sometimes, they can’t control situations.
I keep the dialogue running – to build that level of trust where my five-year old knows there is one person she can turn to, when she needs the most – her mother, even to talk about how “frustrating” it was to wait to play at the sand box. For it is trust we seek in people we love – don’t break it by lying.