When You Can’t Say Something Nice… by Dina Ramon

How do you take it back when you’ve bad mouthed your child’s piano teacher, and you meant it? I did it and I can’t really ‘undo’ it. I didn’t want or mean to say such things in the vicinity of my daughter – who apparently has very good hearing except when I ask her to put something away or get ready for bed – but it just happened. This is my answer: Don’t take it back. I’m now of the mindset that sometimes it’s probably better to address why someone your child looked up to and considered helpful has now become someone you view with animosity. Unfortunately some things that we really try to save for private conversations just get blurted out. And in this case rather than ignore it or try to sugarcoat the fact that someone I viewed as admirable has another side that is less than respectable I am using it as an example to try and make sense for her of inexplicable human behavior that we are all (most of us anyway) confronted with at one time or another. Sadly, it’s demotivating to have to try and explain to your child why someone they may have gotten to know and interact with in a positive way then becomes much less so, particularly when they inadvertently overhear discussions about it and start verbalizing similar negative attacks on the person – not very desirable behavior from your child. On the one hand I am pretty effective at counseling my daughter on how to navigate and deal with her peers who might say mean things or not play nice but that’s easier since it’s often a pattern of behavior that she can anticipate. On the other, the challenge is articulating to her how a seemingly reasonable adult who appeared calm and nurturing suddenly becomes persona non grata to her parents; without the parents displaying how disgusted and miffed they are and questioning why they aren’t better judges of character. My best effort is to explain to her that sometimes a person just isn’t really who they seem to be, even if we think we know them based on their usual behavior. That people can be unpredictable and sometimes do or say things that don’t match the way they usually act. And to follow up by reminding her that when someone throws us a curve and makes us feel bad about people, there is so much other good that makes up for it. So for now that is how I try to help her – and me – decipher human behavior and conflict; a difficult subject to make sense of for her particularly when I often don’t understand it myself.

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