"My daughter's seven-year-old friend says I'm messy, so I clean before she comes over."

My daughter’s friend is an adorable doll-like princess, with a razor-sharp tongue. She isn’t intentionally mean, just observant, and she’s one of those overly-confident first-born children who shares every thought, having been told previously that her every thought was really, really interesting.

She doesn’t mean to be rude.

She doesn’t mean to be bossy.

She doesn’t mean to shame me.

She just does.

That’s how I found myself frantically cleaning my house ahead of an after-school visit by her, hoping to avoid a repeat of her last visit during which the seven-year-old observed that my house was “pretty messy” with “too many toys” and “so much junk food”.

Mary Poppins I am not. Image: Mary Poppins, Buena Vista Distribution

So I swept and folded laundry and made beds and grabbed a grocery bag, collecting all the questionable "foods" in my pantry, just so I could please her. And in that moment I suddenly understood why my daughter is so enamored with her.

Yes, she's rude and bossy and has a tendency to shame us, but something inside of us wants to please her. We want her to approve of our lives and our choices.

This little seven-year-old princess had me polishing furniture and dusting the bookshelf - two cleaning activities I haven't done since hiring a fortnightly cleaner a year ago. Now the only time I clean my house is when I have special guests coming over.

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Video via Mamamia

I'm not sure whether an observant little girl qualifies as a "special guest".

What I do know is that I probably need to set a better example for my daughter Caterina, also seven, whom I constantly encourage to stand up for herself against her friend with the very strong personality.


Tell her you can play with whomever you like.

Tell her not to yell at you, or you won't be her friend anymore.

Tell her I said you have to finish eating your lunch before you play any games.

Tell her you're allowed to not feel like playing if you are tired.

And as Caterina watched me work the vacuum cleaner across our lounge room rug, choosing not to comment on my preparations for her epic play date, her eyes said, "hypocrite".

That I am.

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The play date was a huge success. Her little friend seemed to enjoy her time with us, including the fruit platter I'd prepared for her. She did tell Caterina that she "doesn't share", despite our protestations that while Caterina was happy to share, her iPod was a new toy and she wasn't ready to share it yet.

It being her toy and all.

Normally I save the cleaning for after the play date, like normal people, and will try to do so from now on, even for demanding little girls who haven't yet learned how to be polite among fully-grown company.

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