Different Girl

We had Lily’s first parent-teacher conference a couple weeks ago.  Lily really likes school and her teacher, Ms. Mary, and so do we.  After discussing her progress, her art, her daily routine, and so on, Ms. Mary asked us if we had any questions.  We asked about who she plays with the most and a couple other things.  Then one of us, maybe me, asked about whether she has any kind of attitude in the classroom.

Ms. Mary cocked her head slightly; she looked confused.  “What do you mean?”

“Bossy”, said Jane.  “Yeah,” said Linus.

“And kind of stuck up sometimes, too”, I said.

Ms. Mary put her hand to her chest and recoiled slightly.  She began shaking her head slowly as she glanced from us to Lily, who despite still only being in the 10th percentile in height and weight for her age somehow now seemed even smaller and harmless.  She smiled innocently gazed down at the table, elbows planted on the table and chin in hands.

“Oh, no”,  said Ms. Mary.  “Lily’s very respectful in our classroom.  I’ve never had any kind of attitude problems with her.”

Which is great.  Really, it is great.  But that’s not the girl we live with these days.  The girl we live with does everything she can to be bigger than life, despite her size.  Her natural desire for attention, which is perfectly justifiable on any kid’s part, manifests itself in several ways and one of those ways is her refined sense of snark.  She can really bring the snark, especially when coupled with a natural talent and inclination for taunting, which is always such an attractive trait in a child.  She is an unabashed bad winner, a predictable front runner, and a cheater as well.

And that’s fine.  She’s five, and she has to compete with a nine year-old brother.  And so she does compete…constantly.  Who got inside the door first?  Lily, that’s who.  Who saw that sign over there first?  Lily did.  “Race you to the car Linus…I win.”


“Still won.”

“You can’t just say you’re racing and that you’re the winner!”


Linus can’t overlook this.  Or, he can overlook it the first three times in a day.  But that only gets him to dinner most days.

At the end of the conference, Linus, Jane and I all made eye contact.  It was clear Lily had won over Ms. Mary, who likely thought Lily was perfect, and Linus, Jane and I sassypants-baiters.

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9 Responses to Different Girl

  1. Nathan D says:

    This I can relate to — D is a very strong-willed individual who, shall we say, does not like to go with the flow. But, at school he’s a freakin’ angel most of the time.

  2. bs says:

    happy to see the post election return of pipeline. good reading as usual.

  3. Charley says:

    perhaps the rest of you simply need to accept the fact that Lily is better than you. (sorry, just trying to get on her good side.)

  4. campk says:

    Lily-baiters. Is that similar to being lily-tongued or lily-livered? Glad to hear that she’s bringing the spunk, if all I was going to get was a bunch of advice from friends with tame children; your no good to me. But its no longer clear whether our families will be able to spend time together 😉

  5. Mike says:

    Who got to the teacher first? Lily

  6. Jim says:

    Weirdly, I’ve been working on an essay on exactly this topic. Cian is the devil incarnate 60% of the time at home, and yet she’s the Student Of The Year at preschool. It’s hilarious and irritating.

  7. Kari says:

    This is not surprising. Not because it’s the case that I’ve experienced sassy Lily (and I have, of course in tandem with my own 5-year old daughter), but because I think many children’s behavior differs greatly b/w home and school. Our daughter is also reported to be very well-behaved at school. But at home…..UGH! I read in some parenting ‘zine a few years ago that children reserve their worst behavior for the person/people they trust the most. So when Ida is acting like a complete a-hole to me, esp. at the end of a long stressful workday, I do take comfort (cold though it is) in the fact that she is likely doing so because she’s learning and trying out all sorts of behaviors and trusts that I will still love her, no matter what she does. And of course I do…

    That said, Linus needs to stop letting Lily win races! Seriously….can’t he kick her butt in that department??

  8. David says:

    I’m not saying this to be mean, but can’t you identify a little bit of yourselves in Lily’s behavior? I could see where some of those traits might come from. And, in my opinion, as the father of a 7 year old daughter (also youngest child), I love the fact that she is assertive, loud, in your face, and unrelenting. If she is somehow able to maintain these traits until adulthood, they will serve her well.

  9. pipelineblog says:

    Well, there are family members who are competitive and sarcastic, for sure. I won’t name any names. But I don’t think Lily sees those behaviors much at home, to be honest. Linus would certainly see them more, and yet he’s not that way. Perhaps kindergarten activates the snark gene.

    I think it’s easy to over-analyze kids in the context of what they “get” from their parents. I suppose if I had eight or nine kids to use as case studies it might get easier to see the trends vs. the outliers, but we only have two and they are so different from each other to this point. What is tempting to see as nature or nurture may simply be the luck of the draw or something else entirely, like cohorts, birth order, or any of a number of themes easily found on the parenting bookshelf.

    No question, these are not traits that are necessarily “problems”. It’s just that they are sudden and quite in contrast to the way the first kid was.

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