You Are Being Bossy

Do you ever hear your own words, thoughts, or mannerisms come out of your small children?

Does it ever strike you as annoying, presumptuous, or make you feel just a bit embarrassed?

Emily farts, makes a big deal of it, and I blame her dad. He’s almost 43 and still loves fart jokes and getting her to pull his finger. Despite knowing the outcome, she does it, and they laugh together as if it were the funniest thing.

When she strips off all her clothes and runs about in her panties, I point my finger at her dad, “I blame YOU!”

It’s kind of a running joke – if she whines, he blames me, if she belches, I blame him.

But the other day, as she played with a friend from next door, I winced. I could hear her strident voice say, “No Brooklyn, we are not going to play that game, I want to play this one!” Later, she damn near chewed her out for holding a pretend teacup wrong.

I pulled her aside and whispered, “Honey, you are being rather bossy. Please play nicer with Brooklyn.”

She gave me a hurt look, “I’m not being bossy, Mama.”

They went back to playing, with Emily bossing her friend around just as bad as before. Later, when we were alone I said, “Honey, you were really bossy today.”

Emily looked defensive, and confused. The confused part got my attention. “Sweetheart, do you know what bossy means?”

Emily shook her head, looking sad. So I explained the meaning of the word. Here is what has to say about it…


1 [baw-see, bos-ee]

adjective, boss·i·er, boss·i·est.

given to ordering people about; overly authoritative; domineering.

Yep, that’s bossy.

Explaining what the word meant led to a discussion about how being that way can make other kids not want to play with you. “You don’t have to give in, or always do things that other people want to do, but being a good friend to others means not being too bossy.” I explained to her, and then pointed out some things that she had said to Brooklyn. “Would you want Brooklyn to say that to you?”

Thankfully, at five, Emily is still of the age where my opinion, and that of her dad’s, is far more important than anyone else’s. She listened, and I spoke in a gentle voice, choosing my words carefully. I didn’t want her to feel under attack – but to learn from the experience and grow as a person.

And yeah, I also had a great life lesson. Sometimes I can be too bossy, too authoritative and domineering. It isn’t enough to shrug my shoulders and say, “What can I say? I like things my way.” It reminds me to be a better person too.

I guess I have Emily to ‘blame’ for that!


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