Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sad Mommy Moment



One of the things that came to pass while I was "away" was a sad mommy moment. A moment when you realize your angel is capable of being anything but. It was the first time I can remember being truly embarassed by my child. Not "oh how embarassing but adorable". Just pure embarassment with a healthy sprinkling of shame.

First a backgrounder. In and around Metro Manila, there are lots of street kids. And when we see them, we point them out to her and tell her how fortunate she is to have parents, a home, food, toys, the chance to go to school. There was a time she would even ask us to list all the stuff the street kids didn't have. So we mentioned every luxury she ever enjoyed. It seems we missed one because she had to ask us, "They don't have parmesan cheese??" THAT was cute. THAT was also over a year ago.

Last month when one of our helpers left for a month long vacation to her home province, we asked Tarb to pick out some toys she no longer wanted, to give to our helper's daughter. We explained that the kid in the province didn't have all the things that she had, so Tarb needed to share. No problem. She was able to pick out a number of things she could live without. Then this...

One afternoon last week, I left instructions with Tarb and the yaya (read: Tagalog for "nanny") that Tarb was to sleep while I was out running errands. I got home a few hours later to see Tarb in a good mood, running around. So I asked the yaya how long she had slept. Apparently, not a wink. The yaya then proceeded to tell me in a matter of fact way, that when Tarb had been continuously told to sleep, she got annoyed and told the yaya, "You know, you're poor. And you don't have a lot of things. And you don't have a house. This is my house. There's lots of things and food in it". OH.MY.GOD.

She's a smart girl, incredibly perceptive. I could give you tons of examples about how she figured out the complex relationship between my separated in laws without us telling her. I just didn't count on her using her knowledge and (barely 4 year old) skills of deduction to put down the household help!

So her father talked to her calmly later that night and the dialogue was something like this:

DH: Tarb, did you say something mean to your yaya today.

T: No... I don't remember.

DH: You have to tell me the truth because I heard something. You said something that was not nice...

T: But... but Pappy, I was confused...!

DH: No, what you said was not nice. It was mean and it makes the yayas sad...

T: (bursts in to tears and begins to wail) I'm sorry, Pappy! I'm sooooorrryyyy!!!! (cry, cry, cry)

Sigh...

I would have wanted DH to explain to her why what she said was wrong. Factually correct, yes, but wrong on every other level. He said, because she had burst into non-histrionic tears and apologized so readily, she already knew. I left it at that but I still felt that DH just went to mush when the flood gates broke. I would have had a mouthful more to say. So far so good though. She hasn't said anything mean or politically incorrect to the household help. We shall see...

*photo of Tarb at about 5 months, taken by moi

5 comments:

Samantha said...

That's pretty tough. I thinks children at that age start to learn how what they say can have a real affect on adults, but I don't think they really understand the implications of what they are saying. Sort of like some kids go through a period of telling their parents they hate them when asked to do something they don't want to do. Words have power, and it sounds like your tarb has figured that out, even if she really doesn't understand the full implications.

Things I may have to look forward to :)

Baby Blues said...

Children could be brutally honest and cunningly manipulative. She's too young to fully understand but it was good he pointed it out to her.

Buchiko said...

Man .. tough call. Kids ARE too young to realize that though the truth is good, it sometimes hurts. She realized it when the DH set her aside for "the talk". A very perceptive tarb you got there! It's so hard to become a mom!

Adrienne said...

Ow - I can feel how you felt right now. I would dissolve into a puddle of shame and wonder where she got it from. (Max has done this to me more than once.) They get it from themselves, not us. She wanted to say something mean to the Yaya and she's picked up enough from the adult world to know that what she said was mean. And she knew that it was wrong. And she felt bad about it - the tears told you everything you needed to know.

Reproductive Jeans said...

Awwwww what an adorable picture!

I am sure that was a hard situation to know how to deal with--it is amazing how much kids pick up on. Glad your hubby talked with her--poor little tarb didnt know what she was getting herself into=)