I was shocked to find out my daughter is not an angel. I know. I know. You’re probably thinking, “Of course she’s not perfect! What kind of mother are you to think that you’re daughter is perfect?” Well, I knew she wasn’t perfect, but I always thought she was the kindest, sweetest girl ever and, well, yes, aside from her morning breath, I did think she was pretty damn near perfect. I thought she was a good girl, meaning she never argues with me, she always listens to me, she did well in school, and we have never fought.

When she knows I’m not happy with her, she writes me these cute “I’m sorry mommy. I love you soooo much and I’ll never do it again!” notes. However, my fiancé has been telling me, for at least a year now, that my daughter is different when I’m not around. He won’t or can’t explain exactly how, but apparently she’s a lot more confident and has a lot more attitude. I shrugged this off, thinking, “Not my girl. She’s so sweet!” Perhaps it was my fiancé who was pressing my darling daughter’s buttons. But then a rash of things happened that made me think, “Huh, maybe my daughter DOES act differently when I’m not around.”

First, I got a call from a mother saying that her daughter complained to her that MY daughter is always so critical of her. I was like, “Huh? My daughter is the sweetest person in the world! She’s not critical of people.” I didn’t say this, but I was kind of shocked when I heard the rest of the story. Apparently, my daughter told this girl that she should stop doodling while another girl was doing a presentation in front of the class. My daughter said to this girl, “How would you like it if someone was doodling while you were doing your presentation?”

I almost was going to say to this mother, “Well, actually, my daughter HAS a point.” But I was more interested in the fact that my daughter spoke up to this girl. Then this mother also told me that my daughter said to her daughter, “This is the way I am. You have to like me just the way I am.”

Honestly, when I heard that, I wanted to laugh. Again, I thought my daughter had a point. But, also, I have NEVER heard those words out of my daughter’s mouth, so I’m not sure where she got them from.

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)