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)