she speaks her mind

{We stayed home on Sunday. See below.}

Malayna, Jimmy and I stopped at Peace A Pizza on Saturday to pick up dinner. I've been wanting to try their pizza for a while, and we were passing their new location on our way home from Home Depot. We went in to order and had to wait about 20 minutes. Luckily, Malayna had brought along a book, so we spent some time reading while we waited. While we were reading, another family came in and sat next to us - mom, dad, two boys and a girl about Malayna's age.

{Before I tell you what happened next, you should know this: Malayna went through a phase this past spring during which she was extremely afraid of any bug with wings. She seemed to spot them everywhere we went and would then throw a huge fit that included screaming, crying and flailing of her arms. Oh, how I miss that phase.}

While we were waiting for our pizza, someone came in the door and let in a very large flying bug. As soon as I saw it I knew what was going to happen next. It flew directly at us. Malayna revisited her earlier bug-fearing phase and started to scream and cry. I really couldn't blame her - that bug was giant and it flew right by her face.

Of course, all this commotion caused every single person in the place to turn and stare with their mouths hanging open. One of the young workers there even imitated Malayna's whining. {So helpful, thanks!} The little girl next to us was probably scared out of her mind at this creature making these strange noises for apparently no reason. Malayna noticed her staring and yelled, "I don't like that girl! She's yucky!" I told her it wasn't polite to say things like that and if she couldn't calm down we were going in truck to wait. {Meanwhile I was feeling really bad for the little girl - she didn't do anything wrong! Why couldn't she pick on the worker who was mocking her? I wouldn't have a problem with that.}

Of course my telling her that just made her angrier and she repeated, "But she's yucky!" I scooped her up and told her it was time for us to wait in the truck. She kicked and screamed and made an even bigger scene while I tried to put her in the carseat. She eventually calmed down and acted like nothing ever happened. Ugh. Is that frustrating or what?

This isn't the first time she's blurted out her feelings for all to hear. As it's happening, I'm torn between either telling her to stop saying things that aren't nice or letting her speak her mind. I do not want to tell her she has to be nice when she's feeling out of control, or sad or angry. I want her to speak her mind. I just don't want her to take it out on other people.

Afterwards we talked about what happened. I told her she CAN be angry, or afraid or sad, but it's not okay to say mean things about other people. She can, instead, tell me she's feeling sad, or angry and I will listen. That I can give her a hug if she needs it. I'm afraid if I push the "nice" factor I'll take away her feistyness and make her just another quiet, nice, goes-along-with-the-program little girl.


Vanessa said...

Wow, you handled that really well! I can't imagine!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain ... Ellie used to do the same thing ALL THE TIME. For about six months, I dreaded every time we had to leave the house, because I knew there'd be a tantrum or a scene made over one thing or another. I can't tell you how many times we left a store, an event, whatever, because she couldn't behave.

I think the important thing to remember when kids "speak their minds" is that it's OK for them to vent - if it's appropriate and they're not unnecessarily hurting anyone's feelings. (You're right; the whole story would've been different if she didn't like the mouthy worker and said something about him/her!)

Even adults don't like everyone, but somewhere along the line growing up we've learned to keep quiet when appropriate. That's why I always tell Ellie, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all RIGHT NOW." I add the "right now" because it lets her know she *can* tell me later when she doesn't like someone, if a new food at a restaurant tasted bad, etc. I want her to get the point that we can't just say whatever we feel, whenever we're feeling it - there's a time and place for everything. (That is, state your point now in public clearly and/or nicely, but rant and rave later at home!)

Personally, I've learned that sometimes not saying anything at all is often more powerful - it just aggravates people when they're trying to provoke me but can't get the reactions they want! (Of course that isn't a lesson for a four-year-old, but I think sometimes I can set a good example for Ellie by not rising to the bait and flipping out like I want to! She can see me handle something calmly at that time, then let off the steam later ... ).

Anyway, I'd say keep doing what you're doing - her personality will always shine through, and people will love her no matter what! How could we not?!! (k)

Sue said...

Yeah, I think you were right. Kids are entitled to feel anger or fear, or whatever, but they also have to learn empathy and courtesy, or they'll have a tough time getting along in the world.

textile_fetish said...

Olivia and I were waiting at the cutting table at the fabric store a couple of weeks ago. She was in the back of the cart. A boy, maybe 4, kept rushing up to her and loudly rouring and putting on a really mean face. His mom just kind of told him to come back. I would have prefered she ask him to apologize. Kids have to be taught what's socially appropriate. They doesn't just happen. And I feel like, if the kids won't do it, the parents SHOULD at least say something, you know? I don't think it's about "going along with the program" as it is about respect.

SO as far as that growlng boy was concerned, I felt like I need to say to Olivia that it was NOT appropriate for him to try to scare her and she should have apologized. Oh and besides, you can tell a kid to respect others, but it's better to show them.

textile_fetish said...

Sorry for all the typos - if I delete and retype the comment, it looks like I really said something bad!

lisa {milkshake} said...

Thanks for your feedback. It's hard to stay calm in the middle of a screaming temper tantrum.

k - good idea about saying "right now." I'm going to use that one!

sue - courtesy is SO important. And not used enough in my opinion!

TF - You're right about respect. I would've liked to have Malayna apologize to the little girl, but she was SO out of control that it was better to get her out of there.