There's a window of opportunity as a parent, probably from a child's age of 2 to about 11 where any and every thing we say is gold.
Once they hit the 12-year-old mark, any words that come out of our mouths sound very similar to the teachers on the Charlie Brown cartoons.
But let us say something during that nine-year period, and it is fact.
And no matter how much it doesn't need to be repeated, it will be.
Oh, believe me. It will be.
When I was about 9 years old, I had made a new friend. It was before the term frenemies had been coined, but in reality that's what the girl was.
She told me one day that I was fat.
I knew kids could be cruel just like I knew I was a fat kid, but it still hurt my feelings. So I told Mama.
Just like every other mama, when someone has hurt her child's feelings, Mama was upset and wanted to make her "Kitten" feel better.
"Well, when that girl grows into that nose of hers, she's gonna be a big girl herself. Probably make three of you," was Mama's way of making me feel better.
Her words were supposed to be between a mother and her daughter, a pep talk - however misguided it may have been - to make me feel better and to reinforce that my mother was always on my side. Her words were not meant to be uttered to anyone else.
But boy howdy, they were.
The next day, I went to school and when the girl crinkled her nose at me and informed me again of my chubby status, I was ready.
"Well, my Mama said if you ever grow into that nose of yours, you're gonna be a big ole' girl!"
Needless to say, that little girl and I never played together again. When she had her birthday party a few months later, I was not on the invite list.
"My mother said that I cannot invite people like you," I was told.
People like me? Fat kids?
"If your mother will talk about other children like that, there's no telling how you are being raised."
Mama heard about that.
"I'm glad you aren't invited," Mama said. "I'd have to tell that woman she apparently doesn't know how to raise her child if all she can do is go around hurting another child's feelings. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. And since you're not invited, at least I won't have to buy that child a gift."
What did I do? Yup. You guessed it.
"Well, my Mama said she was glad I wasn't invited to your stupid ole party. She doesn't have to get you a gift!"
I'm not sure how Mama found out I had been toting tales back to school. Maybe the other girl's mother called her. Someone snitched though.
"Kitten...." Mama began. "I think we need to establish some boundaries. Usually, I may be upset because your feelings are hurt when I say some things. I may even forget I said them. When I am upset, I probably shouldn't say those things, but I do; do you understand?"
I nodded. "So you don't mean to say those things, like that girl was going to be big if she caught up with her nose?"
Mama frowned. "No, I meant it. I probably shouldn't have said it though. More importantly, you shouldn't repeat it at school. Especially to the person I said it about."
I learned to bite my tongue when I felt the compulsion to tell someone a factual bit of truth that came from Mama. Just because it was the truth didn't mean it needed to be shared.
I found myself doing the same thing Mama did one night, when Cole came home, upset over what some other child had done to him.
"You better watch yourself," Mama warned, tsking under her breathe.
"Don't you remember how you went to school and repeated what I said to that little girl?" she reminded me. "What have you said to him already?"
There's no telling what has already been repeated that has inadvertently come out of my mouth.
Like Mama, I probably meant it but didn't need to say it. And more than likely, it sure didn't need to be repeated, no matter how truthful it was.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist and certified life coach. She lives in the north Georgia mountains with her family and four insane, but fairly well behaved dogs.