Ah, kids. They say (and do) the darndest things, especially in situations when you're really hoping they don't. Their blatant honesty is a virtue, sure, but before they learn to pair it with a little bit of discretion and tact, letting the truth bombs fly can make for an embarrassing scenario. You teach them not to lie, but on occasion, it would be kinda nice if they at least held back a little bit. You want them to seem well-mannered and well-adjusted, like gleaming products of your exceptional child-rearing savvy, and then they say something that makes you look like a terrible parent without even meaning to. This is why there are certain times when you can't help being supernervous about how they'll react. Times such as . . .
- At doctor visits. Well-child checkups are always a game of tattletale roulette: what will they say when the doctor starts asking them questions? Will it garner a lecture on better parenting techniques? You've already stretched the truth by answering on the questionnaire that they always get the recommended daily serving of veggies (I mean . . . do pickles count?). So you're really, reeeally counting on them not to open their big mouths and saying something like, "When my mum is tired, she lets us play on the tablet until we fall asleep on the floor!"
- At dentist appointments. The same applies at the dentist. You pray they don't mention that it's like pulling teeth to get them to brush theirs, and that once in a while you're just not in the mood to argue. Or that you didn't notice they used the last of the floss to make a trap for their plastic dinosaurs . . . two months ago.
- At a play date with a new friend. Some kids play well together right off the bat. Other kids hit a few snags first — one forgets how to share or bonks the other one on the head with a plastic shovel. Until they get into the friendship groove, you secretly worry that your kid will be the a-hole of the group that ends up making someone cry.
- In a public restroom. Kids are loud, but never so much as when they're in the echoey stall of a relatively quiet public bathroom. If they're young enough to be in the stall with you, you can almost guarantee commentary, whether it's about you ("Mummy! Why does your ba-gina have a mustache?") or them ("Mummy, my butthole is itchy!") or — heaven forbid — someone else ("Mummy! Somebody's pooping in here, and it's really stinky!"). Basically you have to grit your teeth as soon as you walk in the door, and hope against hope that whatever they say is nothing too mortifying.
- Opening a gift. You hammer the importance of manners into their brains as often as possible. Still, sometimes they forget, especially when they're little. They're not always excited about the contents of a gift box — and they don't always remember to act otherwise. So you hold your breath while they rip into the present, and hope that if it's socks and underwear, their disappointment isn't too visible.
- In the presence of someone different than them. The world is full of different kinds of people, and we encounter many in everyday life. Most are unremarkable, but sometimes you come across someone your kid just wants to stare at, no matter how hard you try to divert their attention. You nervously attempt to keep them occupied so they won't say things like, "IS THAT AN OLD PERSON? WELL IS IT?"
When you've got kids, you've got anxiety — at least in situations where they can make you look like a negligent parent who hasn't taught them any social graces whatsoever. The good news is, someday they'll have kids, so remember this: children may fail to recall their manners, but karma never forgets.