The staircase groans under the thundering steps of my eldest child.
“Mom! Audrey is crying again.”
Sighing, I glance up from the weeklong emails I am trying to answer. “What is it this time?”
She shrugs the way an older sister does with an impatient tap upon the ceramic tile in the foyer.
Moving the cat off my lap and placing the computer back on the desk, I stretch out my stiff back and follow her up the stairs. Sore legs? Her sister called her a name? It could be a number of things. The middle child, Audrey is the most sensitive. She is the one I worry about letting in the joys and sorrows of the world with no idea how to filter them.
Walking into the dimly lit room I am relieved to see the girls have turned off their lamps. The tiny stars on their finely webbed fairy curtains drape each of the beds.
“What is it darling?”
“I lied to you.”
Wondering what crime a six year old believes she committed, I sit on the bed rubbing her back. “Well, tell me about it and you’ll feel better.”
“I tried to do what you said and stay on the blacktop at school but Emily went into the field and I followed her.”
Trying not to smile I nod, “Okay. But why did you tell me you stayed on the blacktop when you got home?”
“Because I didn’t want you to get mad.”
Knowing that sometimes I can be a bit abrupt and stern about rules, I pause.
“I’m not mad. But you have to stay in your line so you don’t miss going into the school. If you want to take the bus you have to do that so I know you’re okay and the teachers know where you are. When you’re older you can play in the field. We talked about this last week, actually I talked to both you, Emily and her mom who agreed.”
After a spontaneous visit to the school playground last week, I was surprised my grade one student and her friend were playing in a restricted area. Taking a “watch and see” approach, they did not hear when the bell rang and were left behind as the lines went inside. Afterwards, I had spoken to both girls about being responsible and staying in their area. Following up with Emily’s mother she agreed that in grade one, they were to stay in place during the chaotic morning drop off. It was too easy for two little girls to go missing.
Audrey’s brown eyes look up at me, “But Mom, Emily’s mom told her it was okay to play in the field.”
Here it was, another conversation about my parenting tactics versus another parent. Did I believe Audrey? Yes. So either her friend Emily was telling a tall tale or her mother contradicted me, again.
Keeping the annoyance out of my voice I parrot my standard phrase, “Well honey, I’m not concerned with what Emily does. You are to follow our rules.”
“Okay Mommy, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” I hug her wiping away the remaining tears. “Now go to sleep. And thank you for telling me the truth.”
As I close the door for the second time, relief washes over me because for now I outrank her friends. At this age what they do is relatively harmless, easily fixed with a hug and repetitive message. Hopefully when the time comes, my voice will be louder than the lure of her peers or other parents.