The other day I overheard my daughter arguing with her friend Fifi, who was visiting our house. They were both standing with their hands on their hips, bending forward in rage, noses almost touching. They're four.
"But I'm the guest!" Fifi said.
"No, you're not!" responded my own child.
They were in a squabble about who was going to go first with my nine year old's magnetic dart board. Needless to say this item only held their attention for as long as their fight lasted; they moved on to find other things to fight about moments later.
"Yes, I'm the guest. I'm at your house!" Fifi said again.
"Noooooooooo..." my child started slowly. Condescendingly. "I'm the guest" (actually, she says 'ine' instead of 'I'm' so I'll just insert that from here on).
Fifi saw me lurking in the doorway and looked up at me, confused. "She says I'm not the guest, but I am the guest and the guest always gets to go first," she insisted.
"The guest does always get to go first," mine countered. "But ine the guest. Remember? Your mom said so yesterday."
"But that's when you were at my house. Today I'm at your house so I'm the guest."
"No ine always the guest. You were there when your mom said it!" Then she started to tick the number of times off on her fingers......"your mom told me ine the guest, Chloe's mom told me ine the guest, Aliza's mom told me ine the guest...ine always the guest!"
OHHHHHH, I finally realized what was going on. At this moment, as with other similar moments, I remembered that Fifi's eleven days younger than my own daughter. Yet another example of something I forgot to teach my kid. Don't even get me started on the time the boy who's four months younger showed us all the movements to eensy weensy spider. I hadn't even taught my child the song.
In my girl's world, 'guest' has nothing to do with location, it isn't a status that can change. She's been told she's the guest by so many moms, so consistently, that she thinks she's perma-guest. Must be nice to live in her world.
Fifi turned to me for help. Instead of doing what I should have done, instead of intervening on Fifi's behalf (after all, she was the guest, shouldn't I have worked harder to make her comfortable in my home?), I just gave Fifi a look of exasperation. "You know what honey? she just doesn't understand" I explained." I'll have to explain it to her, but I think I'll have to do it another time. I don't think she's in a position to understand it right now." Fifi (did I say she was younger?) shrugged her shoulders and moved on to play with some other seldom-played-with item that was about to be elevated to sudden preciousness. And so the afternoon went.
I stuck to my word and I did try to explain the concept to my four year old. Several times. She nods like she understands, but of course she doesn't like it. Massively demoted, if you ask her. Sometimes when we walk to school and she's doing things like peering in pipes for watery eyeballs, or balance-beaming her way across someone's stone ledge, I see an idea flash across her brain, and she stops me and says "Mommy, sometime when no friends are at my house, can I be the guest?'
"Sure" I say. "No problem."
7 years ago