Your Kid Is Probably A Totally Different Person Around Their Friends
Yesterday, we had a play date at this house. It seems pretty banal but it’s kind of a huge deal or me because my kid has handled our move to a new city pretty crappily. Beyond that, I’m always thrilled when she makes a friend that wants to come over because being the parent to an only child means you are their only social outlet, and holy God there are only so many conversations I can have about whose farts smell like peanut butter before I begin drinking in earnest. Listening to my child when she thought she wasn’t being observed was an excellent reminder that kids change around other people.
Most of you will never meet my child, so I’ll try to sum up her personality as well as I can for you. Should she meet you, an adult, she would be polite and potentially a little shy. As she started to warm up to you, you might notice that she’s precocious and a little big-headed, and that she has a lot of feelings. She’s a sensitive but smart kid. You’d probably like her.
Now, if you have a child that’s her age, you should know that my child’s entire personality would change. They might go upstairs to go play games and the next thing you know it’s fucking Heart of Darkness up there. There will be screams, giggling, and thumps. Someone will probably cry. You might feel concern for the structural integrity of my house given the noises we hear. I will encourage you to ignore them because it’s silence that should concern you, not mayhem. When my kid’s around her friends she becomes kind of bossy but also easily influenced. If your child wants to shave the dog, my child will not only participate with aplomb but suggest that they also dress him in a tutu.
I’ll be honest, the first time I saw this transformation I was completely taken aback. i was a little disappointed that my child sounded so…so…bossy. Now I don’t really care. First of all, as long as she’s not being a dick to her friends I’m cool with her being an alpha. I was a shrinking violet as a kid so if she has the guts to tell everyone what to do and no one’s being bullied or left out, well okay then.
My child isn’t the only one. Your child will change,too. Kids change around their peers. It’s kind of necessary. You don’t act the same around your boss and your friends, right? Not only that, but your kids will change around everyone; their teachers, their friends, the bus driver, their grandparents. Everyone.
I was always very amused by the parents in my preschool that could not cope with the idea that their precious angel was a bit of a turd at school. It’s not that I didn’t believe that their child is well behaved at home, it’s just that that was inconsequential to whether or not they liked to chuck blocks at their friends.
As long as your child isn’t leading the charge to torture the neighbor’s cat or being a really heinous bully jerkwad, then you shouldn’t care that much if they change their personality.
I’ve never been a big proponent of hinging your identity on your kid anyway. They are their own people, so expect them to act like it. The way to think of it is this: your child is likely saving the best of themselves for you. Appreciate that, and don’t try to inject yourselves into their relationships as they figure out who they want to be.