• Wed, Dec 5 2012

I’m Shocked That My Daughter Isn’t The Perfect Angel I Thought She Was

Apparently it’s not just my kid. One of my friends told me that she always thought her daughter and son were so well behaved until her parents babysat one night.

“They are not the same when you leave,” her mother-in-law told her, racing out the door upon their return. Of course, like me, my friend was in denial at first.

There was also a little incident that I’m embarrassed to share, but I will: my daughter was bragging to her bonus sisters that she goes to the best private school in Canada. (This is not entirely true. There are many good schools.) I only heard this from my fiancé, which proved his point that when I’m not around my daughter may act a lot differently. She never brags to me about going to her school. In fact, I didn’t even think she realized that her school was different than any other school.

Last week, I decided to do an experiment when my daughter had a playdate over. My experiment really wasn’t an experiment so much as it was, um, spying? When my daughter has playdates over I usually leave them be. As long as they don’t go near the stove, or play with matches, I’m like, “Go. Play. Have fun. Tell me when you want to eat.” So, yes, I eavesdropped and – gaaa! – my daughter was talking like a teenage girl to her friend, and not like the sweet 9-year-old who still sometimes talks to me in a baby voice. They were actually gossiping about other kids (not in the best way) and they were comparing children in their class over stupid things like who has a better singing voice.

It makes me feel a bit like an idiot because OF COURSE now that I’ve been thinking about it, kids do act differently when their parents aren’t around. Take the worst sleepover experience of my life that I had recently. I thought my daughter’s friend, who I only ever saw with her mother, was a sweet quiet kid. Um, not so much when she slept over at my house and argued about what movie to watch, complained she didn’t like the dinner and was so LOUD that I actually was searching for some earplugs. When her mother picked her up the next morning and asked, “How was she?” Of course I answered, “she was perfect,” while thinking, “Yeah, she’s never coming back again.”

This is probably why most mothers don’t know that their children act differently when we’re not around. No one will actually come out and say it. Except my fiancé.

(photo: Parris Blue Productions/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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  • Angela

    I’m kind of surprised that the other mom felt the need to call you. They aren’t toddlers and it seems like unless it’s a severe problem like bullying it seems like both girls are better off learning to work it out on their own.

    • Sara

      This is a big thing now. Adults jump in to get involved in every conflict and solve every problem, with the result that kids never learn the interpersonal skills to solve problems between them. With the first-graders that I worked with a couple of years ago, we came up with “The Three D’s”–Dangerous, Destructive and Disgusting. If what a kid was doing didn’t fit into one of those categories, they were not allowed to run to an adult and tattle and we did not get involved; they had to work it out between themselves. It really did help.

    • bumbler

      we have a similar system, works pretty good. Some kids just like to tattle for the sake of it too, and this nips it in the bud.

    • rebecca eckler

      agreed!

  • Rattata

    Wait, you mean to tell me that this girl, who has a tv in her room, doesn’t do her homework because mommy will do it for her, thinks 7/15 on a test is good, goes to THE BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL IN CANADA!!1!!1, stays in a villa on vacation with a nanny, and is the daughter of Rebecca “I’m sleeping with the soccer coach, why do I have to sit with the peasants!” Eckler…can be a brat? Pssh, you’re crazy, it’s probably her Asian friend Lauren’s fault.

    • jessica

      Wow. I gotta say it is almost creepy how many details of her life you’ve memorized.

    • Sara

      It’s not so much that she’s memorized details, more that the things she’s listed are the subjects of some of Eckler’s recent articles. It’s not hard to remember a few off the top of your head–they are pretty memorable, after all. It would be creepy if she were memorizing things like what someone has for breakfast every Wednesday or where she gets her clothes dry-cleaned. This is just simple recall, and a lot of people have that ability.

    • jessica

      That’s cool. You’re all entitled to your own opinions. But IMHO the amount of time and effort you all put in to bashing this woman says more about you than her. I don’t see any of you putting the intimate details of your lives on display for anyone and everyone to pick apart and judge. That is brave as hell. And if you hate her and everything she stands for so much, why even read her articles in the first place? Why write these comments? Why do 2 of you, who aren’t even the person I replied to, feel the need to come out of the woodwork in defense? It seems (and again, just my opinion and everyone’s got one… or 12,000) that none of you would feel the need to do that if you weren’t feeling just a tad self conscious. You protest too much.

    • Sara

      Let’s stick to the issue at hand. My comment was not intended to “bash” Eckler, as you say, but rather to point out your faulty assumption that because Rattata could remember the subjects of some of Eckler’s recent articles–which, by the way, are archived on this site and available for reference at any time–this must be evidence that she spends a “creepy” amount of time memorizing the details of her life. Many people have the ability to read something once and (especially if it’s memorable, and I doubt that anyone writes anything with the hope that it WON’T be memorable) remember it later. I have the ability to remember quotes, names of characters, etc. from movies and TV shows almost verbatim after hearing them once. It’s not a mark of intelligence any more than someone who’s good at writing and bad at math is more “intelligent” than someone who’s great at math but sucks at writing. It’s just a skill that I (and lots of other people) happen to have. People often make comments about how I must have really loved XYZ movie if I’ve seen it enough times to be able to quote from it exactly, when the truth is I can do that even with films and shows that I’ve seen only once. Your assumption that Rattata’s reference of some of Eckler’s subjects is evidence of an obsession and therefore “creepy” is faulty, and I pointed that out.

      As far as the courage inherent in putting the private details of your life online, I think you’d get a lot of debate on that. Is it “brave as hell”, as you say? Eh, maybe and maybe not. But what is NOT debatable is that the inherent nature of blogs where comments are invited means that if you write something, it’s open to be commented on. If you’re going to write on a blog where comments are open, you need to understand and accept that it’s going to be commented on, and most of the time, some of those comments will be negative. I happen to agree with you that (although I’m generally no big fan of Eckler) the personal attacks are uncalled for and unnecessary, but to say that putting the intimate details of her life online is “brave” and therefore her articles shouldn’t be subject to scrutiny or judgment is a serious breakdown in logic. If you wish to write in a medium where no one will ever call you out on areas of disagreement, then either write a book (which Eckler apparently has) or choose a forum without open comments.

      As you say, everyone has an opinion and you’re entitled to yours. However, my point was actually to defend Rattata against your comment, which I believe is based on faulty assumptions, not to attack Eckler.

    • jessica

      Blah, blah, blah. I made it very clear in my previous response to you that I was specifically talking about your need to jump in and defend Rattata or Ratatta or whatever it is.

      And of course blogging opens one up to criticism. But clearly what I am saying is 1) there is a point where the criticism goes too far and well beyond a civil disagreement (yes disagreements can remain civil) and 2) maybe it is best to just ignore people you don’t like just as I’m now going to ignore you.

    • Sara

      I’m not seeing where I’m “directly attacking” the author. Can you point out exactly what you’re referring to? I define an “attack” as name calling, personal insults, etc. and I’d be interested in seeing where in my response you see these things. If you define an attack as something other than name calling or personal insults, then that means that you and I simply have different thresholds for what constitutes an “attack” versus a difference of opinion.

    • Rattata

      Hi, Jessica! In the time it took you to type “Rattata or Ratatta or whatever it is” you could have easily scrolled up to see how to spell my name. It’s strange that you take such umbrage with my ability to remember things that Rebecca freely posted about herself online, yet you can’t afford me enough common decency to learn how to spell my name. Also, my birthday is April 26, am I brave now?

    • Scarlette

      Blah blah blah? What are you, a Ke$ha impersonator?

      Maybe, when you grow up, the idea of message boards will be comprehensible to you.

      Until then all I have to say is…

      u mad?

    • http://www.facebook.com/helen.donovan.31 Helen Donovan

      Glad to know I’m not the only one confused. I’m somewhat new to Mommyish, but I have found it odd that people seem to dislike Ms. Eckler and her writing so much (I mean I’m not a TV in the kid’s room fan but it’s not a venomous snake) AND continue to read her articles. Their right of course, but it does seem a peculiar use of ones time

    • Andrea

      It really isn’t hard to remember, those are pretty memorable quotes. Plus it’s kinda like a train wreck, you can’t look away (when you know you should) and you always remember the salient details.

    • rebecca eckler

      Actually, I think you’re a little bit crazy. You seem to remember everything I’ve ever written and I don’t.

    • Rattata

      Hi Rebecca! I could chalk it up to the fact that I memorized Yakko’s World in an hour and therefore have a great memory, but I can go into more detail if you want :). I remember “tv in the room” because it was one of the first articles I read on this site, you doing your daughter’s homework because of how detrimental it is to her, BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL was from this article, vacation with the nanny was last week, “sleeping with the coach” because of how spoiled you sounded, and Lauren because of how racist that article was :p That says more about you as a person than me and my memory.

    • rebecca eckler

      Let’s agree to disagree then. As adults, we can do that, can we not?

    • Scarlette

      It’s not agreeing to disagree, you just don’t want to accept the truth.

    • rebecca eckler

      your truth, not mine.

    • Scarlette

      Reality isn’t subjective. Deal with it.

    • rebecca eckler

      I think you’re crazy! You seem to remember everything I’ve written for more than a year. I certainly don’t.

  • Tea

    Usually I jump at a good, juicy tale of Eckler privilege, but honestly, she just sounds like she’s being a 9 year old girl. It’s how a lot of girls these days are socialized, and she’s parroting a lot of common media messages. It’ not saying it’s good, I’m just saying it sounds normal.

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      I agree. I think most kids act different away from their parents and as much I would like to believe that my precious little boy won’t, I know he will.

  • bumbler

    Your posts are almost unreal. You’re like a poorly scripted ‘Real House Wives of Wherever’ character, lmao. I like variety though, so I’m glad I get to read your ridiculous ‘articles’.

    • rebecca eckler

      I have no words….

    • Scarlette

      I think that is the point.

  • chickadee

    It sounds like she might have been reading your articles, if she’s waving her privilege around or using it as a weapon in discussions/arguments with her friends. That’s not an uncommon approach for children, by the way, who do have their own versions of pissing contests. It’s up to the parents to be aware that this happens and then to jump in and explain that we don’t brag about the fact that we are fortunate in our gifts, whatever they happen to be.

    What you’re talking about here are “manners,” which are things that we try to teach our children so that they behave well when we aren’t around and don’t embarrass us. Her statement, “This is the way I am. You have to like me just the way I am,” sounds like she might be watching reality television, since that approach is a staple of the participants’ philosophies.

    • rebecca eckler

      Hey! My daughter is not interested in reading about my articles. Trust, she has MUCH better things to do, like playing, dancing…kid stuff! Thanks for your comment.

    • Sara

      She may not be interested in reading your articles, but she probably hears you speak. And if your articles mirror the subjects you talk about in real life, you should understand that you may actually be spending a lot of time talking about signs of your privilege, which she likely picks up on. You do reference the fact that your daughter goes to what is in your opinion the “best” private school in Canada in several of your articles, and it wouldn’t be surprising that your daughter would hear that and, like many girls do, want to emulate her mother.

      What IS surprising is that she actually bragged about it to her stepsisters, who presumably don’t have the same privilege. I imagine that must have been hurtful to them and I hope that you had a conversation with your daughter about not bragging when you enjoy a privilege that others do not.

      At this age, girls mirror their mothers (or other female role models in their lives).

      If your daughter is behaving in ways that you find unacceptable or embarrassing, then it’s always a good step to look at the example you’re setting and see where she might be learning from you. It’s not a sign that you’re failing as a parent, just a good opportunity to learn from life and move on. And maybe I’m way off base and your daughter’s behaviors have absolutely nothing to do with you, but it’s not totally outside the realm of possibility and might be worth considering.

    • rebecca eckler

      You have valid points, for sure. In fact, maybe you’re right in some sense. I mean, I DO remind her how lucky she is. Because of this, however, she does good deeds, like contributing to food drives, toy drives, etc. Of course I remind her (more like tell her she MUST do well at school) because she IS lucky to have that opportunity. One not to be wasted. But we don’t talk “money” or anything like that. Thank you for writing.

  • http://twitter.com/DuchessCadbury The Right Honourable

    As someone who works in the school system, it’s amazing these types of parents still exist. We lie, steal, cheat, gossip…so why is your child exempt from the same things everyone else does? I’m so sorry you have come to the realization that your daughter is like the rest of us. You can’t imagine the tears parents cry when telling me, “but my child wouldn’t lie!” Hilarious.

    • http://www.facebook.com/helen.donovan.31 Helen Donovan

      You cheat and STEAL? Perhaps you are not the best person to guide children? I come from a long line of educators so have a great deal of sympathy for having to deal with the “my child would never (fill in the blank) type of parent. However, “everyone” does NOT cheat and steal and I hope that the lies are more fibs about liking an ugly dress and not regarding your penchant for thievery.

    • TaargusTaargus

      You have never stolen? Not one thing, ever? You’ve never, for example, “stolen time” by goofing off at work when you should be doing something else? Never stolen a person’s intellectual property and used it without permission? Never shown a non-public domain movie to a classroom of students without the consent of the studio/filmmaker/etc?

      Something tells me that you probably have at least once.

  • Life-Sized Mommy

    Is Echler down to responding to every negative comment? Just when I thought this train wreck couldn’t get any more entertaining…

    • rebecca eckler

      Do you not believe it standing up for yourself?

    • Life-Sized Mommy

      I believe in not parading your dysfunction for the world and then being hurt and shocked when people call you on your crap. Also, looooove the mean girl tactic of, “OMG, you’re all just too obsessed with me!”
      Say whatever you want, but you’ll just be our little bloggy version of shaved head-era Britney Spears. It’s sickening and tragic to behold, but we just…can’t…look away.

    • rebecca eckler

      If you can’t look away, you need to get a hobby. I think you’ll get a better understanding of me as a mother if you check out my FB page.

    • Life-Sized Mommy

      Right, because the 2 1/2 minutes it takes to read one of your articles once a week is grossly cutting into my social life.

      …..From the lady who is responding to every. single. comment on an article. Good thing you have that nanny and baby daddy #2 to raise the kids, if this is what you consider a good use of your time.

      And you plug your crappy book enough in the articles; no need to plug your FB page in the comments.

      Done with this one. See you next article.

    • rebecca eckler

      can’t wait. you sound like a REALLY happy person. By the way, my “crappy” books have sold around the world.

    • Pashmina64

      So have 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight- doesn’t mean they’re good, especially since I judge books based on quality (i.e, reviews) not quantity.

  • Marie

    I find this article kind of funny because my daughter is the exact opposite. She’s only a toddler, but when she is with my fiance and I most often then not, she’s a tiny terror. When she goes to grandma’s house she’s a little angel…

  • Not That Rebecca

    OK, bragging to the stepsisters isn’t awesome, but that’s a famously tricky adjustment to make, and it sounds from your other columns as if generally the three of them are thick as thieves.

    The two things you describe in the phone call from another mother – asking ‘how would you feel if you were making a presentation?’ and ‘this is who I am’ (paraphrasing from memory) – strike me as abnormally mature, for a nine year old, but totally fine things to say. Maybe there are more tactful ways to say it, but empathy for the child giving a presentation is commendable. And more adult women need to be able to say (and mean it) ‘this is who I am, deal with it.’

    I dunno, I see no problem here. A bit of an attitude in how she phrases things maybe, but basically a good kid, who’s perhaps more self aware and more aware of others than the majority of kids her age.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.dingler.5 Jennifer Dingler

    My girls and my sisters girls ( I’m not including my 18 month old boy) are right the opposite. They are horrible at home, but when they stay with some one else, they always tell me they were good. I look at them with the are you being serious look. My nieces are terrible with my sister, but a wonderful when they stay with me. I’m not talking about really bad things, just things like whining, talking back, and arguing. Well I will take their crap any day as long as they are respectful to others.

  • http://www.wix.com/elenaki_zou/notatypicalhighschoolgirl#! elenaki

    Wow, what the hell happened to freedom of speech? Rebecca has as much of a right to share the things she wants online as much as everyone. You’re supposed to comment on the article instead of her life. And if you ask me, her daughter sounds like any normal 9 year old. How did any of you assume she was spoiled? Just because she goes to a private school? Besides, most kids brag. Geesh people… Just because someone is well known doesn’t mean you have the right to judge them and the way they live.