Firstly, an admission: I am bossy.
So is our eldest boy, Bear.
I have not been shy of reminding him of his bossiness. And now he has begun to do the same to me.
We are both correct in our name calling. But it still feels a bit wrong to let him call me, his mum, bossy. Yet all he’s doing is repeating what he’s heard.
‘Bossy’ has a lot of feminine connotations. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking certain words belong to either sex, which is why I’ve always made a conscious choice to use it on my son, as well as his dad, who is bossier than me times a hundred. Bossy in a man is usually described as the more sinister ‘controlling’. My husband is not. He just likes things his own way. As do I. We’re both brats. Thankfully, our son is not.
We’re not meant to call little girls bossy, we’re meant to praise their leadership skills. Which is all very well from a distance, but when your daughter is being a complete pain in the arse and all her friends hate her, then political correctness can go jump. Or at least I imagine it can; I don’t have a daughter, just imaginary fights with one in my head.
But I still don’t think I’d shy away from calling her bossy. If she was anything like her brothers she would be too headstrong and determined to let ‘bossy’ stop her ‘leadership skills’ from developing at a thunderous rate anyway.
Which brings me to a point I hadn’t realised before. We’re becoming more and more wary of using certain names, such as bossy, for fear of what they might do to our kids. But protecting our kids in a little bubble, fearful that we might hurt their delicate self-esteem, is daft. How many kids do you know who suffer from genuine self-esteem issues? Whereas we all know the consequences of allowing a kid’s behaviour to run unchecked.
Also, if a kid has no experience of gentle teasing at home, they are going to die social death after social death on the playground, where the protection of feelings has never been a priority.
I’m not saying we should be horrible to our children, or say anything that is going to make them feel bad about themselves, but relatively ‘light’ words like ‘bossy’ should not become taboo. If you’ve raised them to be independent, confident, strong little people (and my god you will regret this at times), the casual tossing about of names isn’t going to damage them.
Although naturally, no mother should have to withstand being called bossy. When it comes to us, kids should just show us some bloody respect and do as they’ve been told.As should the rest of the world, actually.