"It's time to come in," I call, "bring in all the toys and clean up for dinner."
"No, mommy," Little protests, "I am waiting for Carwa. She is coming WIGHT BACK."
"Honey, she hasn't been back in over an hour, I don't think she's coming. Time to come in."
"NO! SHE IS COMING! SHE SAID SHE WOULD COME BACK!"
"Come in sweetie. Maybe you'll see her tomorrow."
She comes in with much sobbing and spends the next several minutes fruitlessly trying to convince me to to take her for a walk to find Carla, the young teenage girl she just adores who sometimes likes to carry her around, and often wants to go off and do teenage things so leaves with a promise that she doesn't intend to keep.
On another day I call them in for dinner again. The Girl, suddenly realizing the time yells, "But Mommy, so-and-so was going to come over and play with us and she never did. Her mom said they would come and visit after nap time."
I am well aware of this. My extra tidy living room and the cookies set aside to go with tea once they arrive remind me that I set aside other plans for this visit that never happened.
"Well, maybe they forgot, or the baby had an extra long nap and they couldn't come," I excuse, again. "We'll have tea tomorrow ourselves, or invite someone else."
I listen to her sob for 20 or 30 minutes, peppering me with hopeful questions during her disappointment. "You could call them mommy, maybe they can come now. Why didn't they come. I wanted them to come."
The Boy, on another day, "His mom said he could come out again to play some more. Please let me stay out another 10 minutes, he might still come."
It is pitch black outside and time to eat, but he still holds out hope, they all still hold out hope, because of the well intentioned lies, or carelessness of other people.
I tire of those who think to save a child disappointment, or themselves discomfort, and instead cause far greater disappointment and grief a few hours down the road, where they are not there to see the full brunt of their actions.
If you are not coming back, say so. Sure Little might cry for a second, but then she's free to have fun for the next few hours rather than forgo playing with the friends nearby to sit on the doorstep waiting for your return.
If you can't make it to a planned play date, at least call and say so before hand. They could have done other things and now I have to deal with their disappointment and listen to the crying for an hour as I make dinner.
If you're not certain your kid will be allowed to come outside again to play, employ the use of the word, maybe, might not, etc. It's not hard to qualify your statements.
Children believe what you tell them, whether you mean to do it or not. Children pin their hopes on the most careless of words. Children read promises into vague suggestions even. So please. don't. ever. tell a child that you will do something that you don't in fact intend to do.
And if we are friends, I will forgive you for a lot of things, I will cut you a lot of slack and I will give you many second chances. It's just how I am. But disappoint my kids repeatedly, cancel long standing plans on a whim, and I will likely drop you. We'll still talk, but I won't make plans with you anymore or go out of my way to get together. That's not the kind of disappointment I want my kids to have to learn from again, and again, and again.
Well, at least it's a very good object lesson for them in why they should not lie or break promises. For they see how much it hurts them when people do the same to them. Now if there was only some way to teach all those others the same lesson.