The Best Little Girl in the School

By the time I turned seven years old, I’d been spanked in front of the whole school twice.

My first offence was finding a stash of red building dust in the playground, and using it to creatively decorate myself with fake injuries, then placing myself on the ground for a passing dinner lady to find.

The second time, me and my friend Trevor shimmied up a drainpipe to see what was on the school roof. I can still remember how the teacher spanked me on every syllable of “WE. DO. NOT. CLIMB. ON. ROOVES.”

By the time I was ten, you could add ‘finding the school stash of sweets in the teacher’s cupboard, and sharing them out with my friends’, and ‘accidentally setting my Dad’s paint shed on fire’ to the list.

At fifteen, I’d raised the stakes considerably with truanting, illicit drinking of my parent’s booze stash, and taking a quasi-religious opposition to school uniform.

Suffice to say, I was a naughty kid. Don’t get me wrong, I was polite, I mostly did what I was told in class, and I was never really one for fighting. But I had a knack for finding rules tiresome, and trouble was never far behind.

So I’m frankly out of my depth having inadvertently raised The Child Who Is Never Naughty.

It might sound like the ramblings of a deranged woman, but Flea really doesn’t misbehave. She doesn’t shout or whine, she doesn’t have tantrums, she doesn’t run off when she isn’t supposed to. She knows the difference between ‘can I’ and ‘may I’ and never forgets a thank you or excuse me.

At parent’s evening this week Flea’s teacher looked shocked when I asked if she was ever cheeky and said, “Oh, no, I’d never raise my voice with her. Can you imagine? She’d be so upset.”

Obviously there are many advantages to this situation. The house is calmer, and it’s much easier to peel yourself out of bed in the mornings when you know that your child will get washed, get dressed and make breakfast without being asked.

And Flea’s far from being a robot. She’s got a quick sense of humour, and joins in with all my games, even “Mummy can only hear you if you’re singing”, which let’s face it, not all kids would do.

But I must confess to the occasional worry about her lack of naughtiness. Do kids who are good get led astray more easily? Will Flea be pushed around by other kids when they’re older, because she’s so keen to please?

And, oh, she’s so easily crushed. Last Friday there was a situation at school where a teacher asked Flea to do something I’d asked her not to do. Torn, Flea chose to do what the teacher asked. When I arrived, I told Flea I was pretty cross, she apologised, and I said thanks, and suggested we forget the whole thing.

Six hours later Flea was still tearful, when she came downstairs at 10pm to tell me she was, “really as sorry as sorry can be”.

It’s not hard to feel like the most evil parent alive when the merest expression of disappointment can create such levels of remorse. And I’m wondering if all her rebellion is just being stored up for her teenage years, when she’ll become a tornado of rage and hormones. Which is a bit worrying.

What do you think – do kids need a rebellious spirit? And what do you do if it seems to be entirely absent?



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Katie Vyktoriah (SnuggleBubby)
    21st March 2012 / 8:26 am

    I was the same as a child, though my pleasant nature was ingrained in me by my mother for a different reason. Having lost a child before me (my brother died of SIDS), she never let me cry for even a moment. She and my dad kept me sheltered and never let me experience any bad emotions.

    As I got older, I clearly had some anger and sadness, but I was told by my mother that I was only allowed to be upset one day a week, “and today isn’t that day.” It never was that day.

    As I got older, I learned to hold all of my negative emotions inside and worked extra hard to please my parents, teachers and everyone else. I got straight As, was president of every club at school and constantly would spend my meagre pocket money on everyone except myself.

    Not learning to deal with negative emotions only became a problem in my late teens when I began to self harm as a way of getting them out. I still struggle with it today, and I have an exceptionally guilty conscience, even when I’ve no reason to.

    At the end of the day, though, I think all of the issues I have could have been avoided if I’d felt a little more “heard” as a child. I think it was my parents’ responsibility to show me that it’s okay to be sad/mad/guilty but that sometimes you can’t please everyone, so you just gotta do what you gotta do.

    I hope I can do that for my kid.

    (Sorry for writing a book here!)

    • 21st March 2012 / 10:50 am

      Oh, that’s really interesting though – that sounds like a tough experience, growing up.

      With Flea we’re very open about negative feelings and she is perfectly happy to tell me that she’s cross or sad, but that’s it – she’ll just tell me. Then she just goes on with what she’s doing.

      • Katie Vyktoriah (SnuggleBubby)
        21st March 2012 / 10:59 am

        I think in that case, she’ll eventually rebel against you like any normal child. She may just not have anything to rebel against yet. You’re obviously a great mum and the centre of her world, so until she has a reason to resent you for something, there’s no need for her to push boundaries. I guess the phrase “count your lucky stars” applies here! 😉

        • 21st March 2012 / 8:52 pm

          Aw, that’s a lovely thing to say – thanks!

  2. susie@newdaynewlesson
    21st March 2012 / 9:26 am

    I think every kid is different and yes, there are some kids who just have a pleasant disposition.

    I think maybe you can just have this talk (with what you asked in your post) with her. Tell her a bit about yourself, ask her how she feels about following the rules….

    For me the real question is what is behind her being a kid who does not misbehave. Is it because it’s her disposition or is it because of something else? There are kids who want to please their parents, there are kids who like the attention from the teachers for being the “good” kid….and lots of other reasons.

    I think she is really the only one who can answer that.

    She does look loved and happy to me and I think it’s good she has a conscience. 🙂

    • 21st March 2012 / 12:09 pm

      She loves to hear stories about the naughty things I did as a kid, and sometimes will tell me giggly tales of what someone did at school, complete with lots of, “You’ll never believe it, Mummy” comments.

      I think, personally, Flea is just very chilled out and doesn’t really see a reason to rebel (yet). She’s also perhaps used to being praised because she tends to get things right, and is quite clever – so she’s easily mortified by the idea of not being right. I – clearly – never suffered from this.

      • susie@newdaynewlesson
        21st March 2012 / 8:43 pm

        LOL-don’t see you as too harmed though.

        • 21st March 2012 / 8:53 pm

          I embrace my ability to say and do the most inappropriate thing possible in virtually any situation. I don’t have much alternative, of course…

  3. 21st March 2012 / 10:57 am

    A wise woman once told me that we all shed the same amount of tears over a child’s life and that some children are harder to parent at different times of their lives.

    Flea seems to be a well balanced, happy and lovely child. She is a credit to you and your parenting. I am learning that I can not change my children’s temperaments, but I can help them change them.

    Part of being a parent is worrying about our children, it seems to come with the territory. I always hope that some of Flea’s behavior will rub off on the boys just by osmosis, but sadly it isn’t!

    • 21st March 2012 / 12:11 pm

      I kind of agree. I do think some children just are more challenging than others, but they’re all equally loved and worried over. Flea causes relatively few tears, thankfully 🙂

      I’d hate to try and change her temperament, I think she’s naturally quite relaxed and easy-going, although a little anxious at times to be right (no idea where that comes from). But I think I worry because I have no idea of how she stands up to peer pressure, and whether she’ll be one of those kids who goes along with others – I guess time will tell.

  4. Kelly Wiffin
    21st March 2012 / 11:37 am

    Bless her.

    I have a two year old daughter and even though she is good. When she does something that she shouldn’t and I tell her not to do it, she quite often laughs at me and does it anyway. She is usually very good but she can be a cheeky girl when she wants to be!

    I am quite pleased that she rebels at times as I didn’t and it has took me 30 years to not be so soft!

    • 21st March 2012 / 12:12 pm

      I did once shout at Flea and she laughed at me. When I said, “Why are you laughing?” she replied, “Oh, I thought it was a game.”

      I have no authority whatsoever.

  5. 21st March 2012 / 2:05 pm

    Hi there. I have a daughter who is just the same, scarily so sometimes. She often tells me the rules that I forgot we made. And sometimes dissolves into tears if it even looks like we are going to do something that might be considered “wrong.”. At least I can see where it comes from. I was a boring goody two shoes in school, so that explains it. I suspect that her brother may get into enough trouble for the both of them!

    • 21st March 2012 / 8:54 pm

      Oh bless. Sometimes Flea thinks it’s funny that I break rules. But I do see in her a future class monitor. Honestly, she was born for the role.

  6. 21st March 2012 / 2:25 pm

    Do kids need a rebellious spirit? Well I think if they are they soon learn what the consequences are if the adults around them are fairly strict. I don’t think a placid child necessarily means a quiet child/rebellious or a rebellious child means a rebellious/quiet teenager. It is more a case of what we are teaching our children about respect, trust and giving them the boundaries and security they need/should have. I also think that if they understand our values and respect them they are more likely to take them on board. I was a nice child but rebellious when I got to my teens but don’t tell anyone.

    • 21st March 2012 / 8:55 pm

      Perhaps you’re right. Hope so! Certainly, I was very strict with Flea as a toddler, in terms of setting very clear boundaries and expectations and always taking action when something happened I didn’t like – but I do tend to explain why the rules are the rules, which I think means Flea respects them for the most part. When I was a kid, I always hated (and ignored) rules I couldn’t see the point of…

  7. 21st March 2012 / 7:46 pm

    Oh Sally how I envy you your relaxed mornings! Every morning I say today I won’t shout at the kids… every morning I shout at the kids… (WHY is it so hard to put shoes on?) Anyway, your gal sounds like a well-balanced individual, and although only time will tell how she responds to peers, she sounds to me like the type to walk away from trouble…

    • 21st March 2012 / 8:56 pm

      I am a lucky bugger, I do appreciate it, honest.

  8. 21st March 2012 / 8:34 pm

    I think that lots of kids like rules, especially if they enjoy learning – I know I did. But don’t worry, she has plenty of time to rebel. Just wait until she hits puberty.

    • 21st March 2012 / 8:56 pm

      Ooh, something to look forward to, and a time when I will doubtless kick myself for having written a blog post like this.

  9. purplemum
    21st March 2012 / 8:59 pm

    It seems we were cut from the same cloth as far as childhood behaviour goes. I made up silly songs about all the teachers and would sing them to the classroom whilst we waited for our teachers to arrive. I made cocktails out of my mums booze cupboard and sneaked them into nightclubs.
    My eldest is very well behaved with a strong sense of right and wrong. I really don’t know what to make of it. However my second child is very much like me, stubborn and cheeky, so this leads me to believe that these things are down to genetics. Perhaps your daughter and my eldest will always be well behaved , because I know for sure my lack of respect for rules hasn’t changed.

  10. 21st March 2012 / 9:06 pm

    I do hope you haven’t jinxed things by writing this post!

  11. 22nd March 2012 / 11:26 am

    enjoy it while you can I say! Every child is different (as I’m discovering) and no doubt she’ll have her moments in the future. I wa a pretty good girl – and always have been, although I did go throguh the rebellious stage. You cna still be strong, independent, funny, smart and courageous and not be naughty. My first two girls were so well behaved, and along came Ruby and I;m demented. She is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO naughty. But I have to laugh. Enjoy your relationship, and as long as you feel she is able to sully express herself without feeling she is a disappointmnet, then go wtih the flow… and enjoy those mornings!

  12. 22nd March 2012 / 3:34 pm

    I think Flea sounds like a wonderful, well rounded, happy and thoughtful child. She seems to have her head on her shoulder and although she is eager to please she did know she was doing wrong. I don’t think she will be easily led, I think she knows the difference between right and wrong. Parenting will be different at different stages and you may have to adjust things as she gets older but right now enjoy the delight that she is.