My daughter isn’t the best eater. To say the least. She’s fussy and she’s very slow. She has far less on her plate than her brothers, but it can take her four or five times longer to eat it – and she still doesn’t finish it. She also spends a lot of time getting up from the table, chatting, kneeling up on her chair and generally messing around. Looked at objectively, this is clearly bad behaviour. But we’re so used to it, that I don’t really see it any more. I’d like her to sit down and eat a proper amount of food, a balanced diet and eat it at normal speed, but I’ve kind of accepted that isn’t going to happen.
Perhaps not surprisingly, my kids seem to have a fair few friends who also come from families with three or even four kids. I know meal times at their houses are pretty noisy, chaotic affairs too. And, yes, kids do get down from the table and kneel up on their chairs.
My eldest had a friend round for tea the other day. He’s made a few new friends recently, which I’m really pleased about. They all seem to be very nice and it’s good that he’s found himself a little social group. This friend is particularly nice. He reminds me a lot of my son’s old best friend who moved away – he’s very polite and he chats to the family. I have nothing against friends who come round and don’t talk to me and the other two, but it’s really nice when a friend does talk to us all.
At the table, my daughter was doing her usual tricks. But she was also a little over-excited and probably slightly showing off because her brother had a friend round. She ended up standing on her chair during her tea (which I told her not to do). I asked my son’s friend if people do this in his family – mainly to point out to my daughter that the behaviour is unacceptable. Needless to say, they didn’t get up to that sort of behaviour at his house. He has one younger brother, who is older than my younger son, so the dynamic in their family must be very different.
After he’d gone home, I thought no more of the silly teatime bedtime. But then a couple of days later, my son started having a go at my daughter. Apparently his friend had told him he thought my daughter was badly behaved. My daughter doesn’t take well to any form of criticism. She hates to be thought of as badly behaved. And she really isn’t badly behaved at all – she’s impeccably behaved. But her eating has always been an issue. I didn’t want her upset, but it was quite nice for her (and me) to get a reality check. The behaviour at the table isn’t acceptable and she’s not a toddler any more.
But within seconds it wasn’t just an observation, it had become ’embarrassing me in front of my friends’. I really hope that my son’s friend hadn’t thought his sister was embarrassing or judged him badly for it. I’m sure he wouldn’t. But that’s how my son had decided to interpret it. It became another excuse to have a go at his sister. It’s amazing how many situations can be turned around by a teenager as an excuse to have a go at his sister.
I would like her to improve her behaviour and I’m hoping this might trigger something. But I’m not accepting it as being another excuse to have a go at her.