Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Art of Tattling

Some things that kids do, there's no grownup version, for most of us at least. Wrestling, for instance. Running around in circles. Yelling. Singing on the playground for all the world to hear. Unless you decide to do any of these things for a living, you pretty much grow out of them.

But what cracks me up about kids is when they do things that adults do, only in a more upfront, in-your-face way.

Take tattle telling, for instance. Today, when I dropped J.J. off at school, three little girls were sitting on the floor reading. Well, a little boy came sauntering up to the front of the room, hands in his pockets, not really paying attention. Then, when he saw what they were doing, he stopped dead in his tracks. Apparently, they were breaking a rule because it was play time, not reading time.

"Ohooooooh. I'm tellin' on y'all," he said.

"What? The teacher said we could read," one little girl shot back.

But he told anyway.

Now let's just pause to think about how a grownup would handle this very same situation. Probably, he would wait until he was alone with his boss and then casually mention something like, "Are Janet, Carol and Kate not very busy with work right now?"

"Why do you ask?" the boss would say.

"Because I saw them reading during work time, and I just thought it was wierd because I'm slammed with work right now. I was surprised that they weren't."

Then, ideally, the boss would give the three ladies more work than they could ever handle. Meanwhile, they would never know who told or even if someone told.

When, you're a kid, however, the whole point of tattling is for the other kid to know it was you.

"Yeah, that's right," kids say. "I got you in trouble. That'll teach you to read when you're supposed to be playing. Punks."

And here's another thing that kids are more upfront about: insults. They'll flat out tell another kid they think he's crazy or mean or bad at kickball or anything else.

As kids, we took turns being on the receiving end of these comments. That's why I can't understand when people say, "If you've got something to say, say it to my face!"

I'm like, "Do you not remember what that was like? Being insulted to your face? In front of everyone? No, sir. If you've got something to say about me, say it behind my back...that way it'll be your problem, not mine. I'll never have to know."

Here's a good thing kids are more open about, though. Friendship. They'll make a best friend in a single day. And then they'll draw them a bunch of pictures or write them notes or dress alike. Obviously, grownups can't do this or else it would totally freak the other person out.

But it's nice when kids do it. It shows their honesty and straight-forwardness goes both ways. From the hilarious tattle-telling to the precious declarations of friendship, straight-forwardness is what makes kids kids. Well, that and the running around in circles, roughhousing and singing at the top of their lungs.


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