Tattle Tale

***Anecdotes and advice from a Supermom of 12 children

Falling into Traps

Being the mother of 12 children doesn't really bestow special virtues on me. Sometimes I make mistakes, and sometimes I make the same mistakes again and again. A lot of the time, this is about falling into traps my children have made for me.

Evil Doings

An example of such a trap is the way kids like to rat each other out. You know the drill, one kid comes to you and in a quiet, yet knowing voice, imparts to you the evil doings of his sibling. "Mom (pause for emphasis), I saw Karen pick her nose and eat her boogers."

Of course, you are so horrified and disgusted by this news that you stop whatever you are doing to find Karen. "Have you been eating boogers again? Do you know that, besides being thoroughly revolting, eating your own mucus can make you sick?" you ask your daughter in an accusing tone. "Mucus is filled with germs!"


Kids aren't stupid

Karen, though not hesitant to indulge in a repellent act, is not stupid. The only reason you would take it upon yourself to run to her and make such accusations is if her brother Tom had told on her. Karen will know this as soon as you open your mouth. You've just given your children a prime opportunity for a jealous spar. Mayhem will ensue posthaste.

Let's start over. Karen comes over to you and says, "Mom (significant pause), I just saw Tom kick his dirty, smelly socks under the bed instead of putting them into the hamper. The whole room smells like dirty feet!"

Here are two ways to handle the situation:

Look your daughter in the eye and tell her, "Well, did you say anything to your brother? Maybe you can think of an effective way to tell him that not putting his socks into the hamper is inconsiderate. You'd want to say it in a way that wouldn't make him get angry."

Let your daughter know that you registered her complaint. Then, at a different time, when you and your son are alone, talk to him about the issue in a calm voice. Don't mention your daughter or her report. Let him know how such behavior feels. "Tom, sometimes I go into your room to put clean clothes away and there's a smell. I look under your bed and find dirty socks. That disappoints me."

The key is not to react, but to look before you leap. You'll soon be handling this stuff like a pro. Guaranteed!