We’ve all been there. Excited child with a beautifully wrapped gift from a relative. Hoping and preying that we have instilled that look of delight and happiness in them, that no matter what the gift contains, they will be polite and receive it gratefully.
After all, it’s only polite.
And when they rip it open to find a book they already own, or a hand knitted Rudolf jumper with a jingling bell, then look at you for the right answer. And you glare back of them, hoping that they don’t say just what their heart is telling them, or worse still, burst in to tears.
Why do we encourage our kids to tell the truth in most situations but that sometimes ‘white lies’ are better? Society tells us to behave in a certain way that kids are just not born understanding. Instead we ‘unlearn’ the inbuilt urge to say just what they feel inside.
From the moment a child learns to put a sentence together they say exactly what pops in to their little head. Regular announcements on the bus like, ‘Look at that funny black man with the fuzzy hair.’ Or in the cheese section of the supermarket, ‘Mummy! Hasn’t that lady got a big bottom?’
But we teach them this isn’t acceptable. To keep these thoughts inside even if you are bursting at the seams to share.
My daughter said that one of her new teachers is called Mrs Warton and that her friend had said it was a good name for her as she has a wart on her face. I said that it wasn’t a very nice thing to say. But isn’t she just making an honest observation?
So they ‘unlearn’ honesty and learn that some observations are better kept in their head. I think it’s called ‘tact’.
Unfortunately I don’t think I ever quite managed to ‘unlearn’ announcing my observations. It’s sort of like Honesty Tourettes.
I find myself saying things at exactly the same time as thinking it’s probably not the most tactful thing to say. I just can’t help it.
Why have I not mastered this skill of keeping my big mouth shut?
Example: Sitting on the bench in the park today and I say to a complete stranger while watching some 9-year-old playing on the swings. ‘Gosh those tights are slightly inappropriate for school.’ I’m no snob but they were rather racy (God I sound like my grandmother!). Didn’t even consider that the child in question might actually belong to said stranger.
Turns out she wasn’t. But before I had even finished the sentence I wanted to hit the rewind button. It actually turned out the girl in question was one of his daughters best friends and he saw the funny side of my Honesty Tourettes. Awkward moment but I survived.
Just how I manage to keep any friends I have no idea.
So if anyone has any tips for mastering the skill of non-honest tact can they share them.
I’m still learning, so my kids have no hope!