“Mom, I have something I want to tell you but I can’t.”
“Well now you have to tell me cause I’ll bug you till you do!”
“It’s just… I don’t know how to say it.”
“Are you worried I’ll get mad?”
“Are you worried I’ll laugh?”
“Oh come on, just tell me!”
“Okay fine. Angie* asked for a pocket knife for her birthday and also told me that she prank called her dentist office.”
“What? What do you mean she prank called her dentist?”
“She said she had a friend over and they hid under her bed from her parents and they called her dentist office. I don’t know what she said on the phone, she just prank called them.”
“Uhhh… okay. Why does she want a pocket knife?”
“I don’t know, she just said she’s always wanted one her whole life.”
I’ll stop there to put this exchange in perspective for you. The girl in question is a third grader in Little J’s class who also lives in our neighborhood. She’s having a birthday party today which Little J was going to attend, but won’t be going now. This was her choice after a long heartfelt conversation about Angie. Because unfortunately, this bizarre sharing of information is not the first conversation of its kind.
A couple of weeks ago Little J told me that Angie brought a sewing needle to school and hid it in the cuff of her pant leg and called it a weapon. Another kid told the teacher before Little J had a chance to and the needle was confiscated and the girl allegedly got in trouble. That’s all secondhand information so I’m not sure if that’s exactly how it went down, but I do know that I don’t like Angie’s track record.
We talked about how a kid like that isn’t a good friend to have, and that chances are by hanging out with Angie she’ll eventually get in trouble herself. Even if she doesn’t initiate or participate in whatever kind of crazy thing the girl comes up with next. Guilty by association and all that. I also told her that she should surround herself with kids who have the same values as her, and that those make the best kind of friends. She likes having the reputation of being a good student (thank you third grade for keeping this characteristic appealing), and hanging with Angie would most likely alter people’s perception of her.
It was a good chat.
She decided that she didn’t want to go to the party today because it would make it seem that Little J is interested in being a good friend of Angie’s, which she isn’t. It will be tougher at school since they are in the same class all day long together, I hope that she can stand her ground. Only time will tell.
All I know is parenting is hard… there’s no way to prepare for this kind of shit. I feel very grateful that my kid has a good head on her shoulders and enough common sense to recognize when things aren’t quite right. That’s not something you can teach. I guess I’m doing something right!