When Molly was in grade two, her teacher called me aside to tell me that she and her BFF had been in a bit of an argument, but neither girl would talk about why. The teacher went on to say that the other girl had said that Molly called her a B-word.
When I had sufficiently recovered from my shock, I asked Molly why she would call anyone a B-word.
“Because she is!” Her chin began to tremble, so I decided to leave it until she was a little calmer. No point in provoking a string of expletives in front of the teacher.
The following day, the mother of the other girl met me outside the classroom.
“So Molly called my daughter a B-word.”
“I know. I’m so sorry – I don’t even know where she would have heard it. I can’t imagine what she was thinking!”
The mother didn’t look convinced. She bit her lip and looked at me, then her child. I was wondering how I was going to handle a swearing match between six-year-olds (or the mothers) in the school grounds without making the teacher and the other mums think I was the worst mother on Earth.
I cleared my throat.
I took a deep breath.
“Molly?” I said gently. “Why did you call your friend a B-Word?”
“Because she was.”
“So were you!” screamed the other child.
“You’re bossier than me!” retorted Molly.
“Sweetheart,” I said carefully, hazarding a glance at the mother. “What was the actual word you used?”
“I said she’s bossy. And she is! She told me I had to be the Mum – when it was my turn to be the baby.”
And both girls began to cry again.
“Oh, I see,” I said, smothering the giggle that was trying to erupt. “Well, do you think maybe you could be the baby today and not worry about what happened yesterday?”
“I guess,” said Molly sniffing back a few tears.
“And what about you?” the other mum asked her daughter.
There was a few moments of silence (in which I held my breath) before she smiled. “Yes,” she said. “Come on, Molly. I’ll be the Mum today!”
The girls held hands, giggled and ran into the classroom.
I released the breath and wiped my palms on my jeans. I’d dodged the stigma of being THAT parent.
Of course, I have yet to dodge the other stigmas, but hey – I still have a few years of schooling left for those.