On giving a dog a bad name

So I found one of the kids in tears yesterday. When I asked them what was wrong, they said it was because they hadn’t been invited to someone’s party. Now I tend to be quite unsympathetic on this sort of thing with my kids – they can’t expect to be invited to them all, just as they can’t invite everybody in the class to theirs – and I was reminding said child of this when they came out with something that stopped me in my tracks.

‘They wanted to invite me, (sob, sob) but their Mummy said they couldn’t, because she said I stole something from her Mummy’s bag once when I was in reception, (sob, sob) and I don’t steal things and (wailing now) I don’t remember stealing anything and I don’t want to be in trouble’.

UUUUh. Right. Once we’d calmed things down, I did some more digging, thinking that there must be a bigger back story to it all, but that’s still the sum total of the information I have about this. That, and the fact that I have a devastated child on my hands. Not because of the party –  that seems to be neither here nor there –  but devastated because they think they are in trouble, though they can’t remember doing whatever it is they are in trouble for.

Ok. Because I have nothing else to go on, lets start from the premise that my child did take something from someone’s mother’s bag, at some point during their reception year. I’m not really clear how this might have taken place, since the child in question doesn’t spend any time with this adult, but I suppose it could have happened on the yard, or in the park, or at a party.

Reception year would put the age of this child at between only just four, and only just five. Clearly children should not take things from people’s bags, but stealing? Really? A four year old doesn’t STEAL. A four year old might well think ‘I see that, I want it, I will have it’, but I don’t think at that age that stealing is really a concept they have, do they? Of course, a four year old should certainly be aware that they can’t just take stuff they want without asking. But knowing the correct behaviour, and then acting on it at all times, is something that comes with age, and with adult guidance. And if I had known about this incident, I would have dealt with it at the time and used the opportunity to reinforce the fact that you can’t just take stuff, and I would also have insisted that the child apologise to the adult in question. BUT I WASN’T GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY.

So given the fact that this incident wasn’t seen as serious enough to mention to me at the time, and that it happened aeons ago, and that we are talking about four year olds, I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that my child is being told by a classmate that their Mummy doesn’t want them coming to their party, because they ‘stole’ something. If this parent doesn’t want our kids to socialise together, for whatever reason, that is totally and utterly up to her and she has every right to make that call. I just feel that the way it has been done is unkind and thoughtless and unnecessary.

I don’t know whether to tackle this with the parent in question, or whether it will just make things worse. What would you do?

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4 thoughts on “On giving a dog a bad name

  1. Really difficult situation.

    You don’t want to approach the mother for it to sound like you’re bitter that your child wasn’t invited to the party. On the other hand however, you have an upset child who thinks s/he’s done something wrong, when potentially they haven’t.

    How about asking a third party, a parent of a child who is going to the party perhaps, and explain the situation to them discretely. You may find some more pieces to this puzzle.

    Hope all’s well otherwise 🙂

  2. Agree with RLB – you don’t want to appear bitter but at the same time, having a kid in bits over something that was probably (okay, definitely) innocent and a long time ago isn’t fun or fair. As the owner of a nursery kid I think I would approach the ma in question and explain the scenario – big up the tears and wails – and see if there’s a shred of truth in the theft allegation. It’s odds-on there won’t be but at least you’ll have clarified the situation and have put the mother on the spot – and perhaps made her think about addressing future issues when they occur and not through the media of the kids.

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