Learn­ing young how to turn on the wa­ter­works

The Wharf - - The Week - TABITHA RON­SON

There is a girl in Mas­ter A’s class who cries. When some­thing doesn’t go her way or when she feels she is be­ing over­looked, her bot­tom lip starts to quiver and then the tears art­fully flow.

I say art­fully be­cause this nineyear-old is a mas­ter ma­nip­u­la­tor, hav­ing learned very early about the power of the tear duct.

The class has had a male teacher for the past two school years. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the weep­ing has gone into over­drive dur­ing this time. A few well-placed tears work won­ders on this un­sus­pect­ing young chap who, like most of his sex, feel un­com­fort­able around a weep­ing wo­man – and will do al­most any­thing to make it stop and go away.

The girl’s mother finds it all rather amus­ing, jok­ingly say­ing her daugh­ter should win a Best Per­for­mance award for turn­ing on the wa­ter­works. In truth, the girl has learned the be­hav­iour from her mother (you know the type) and is even be­ing en­cour­aged in its prac­tice.

It wouldn’t be an is­sue if it wasn’t im­pact­ing on Mas­ter A and the rest of his class­mates. He rolls his eyes at the men­tion of the girl’s name and, like most of his class­mates, he be­lieves that her tears are sim­ply an act to get her own way.

It doesn’t take an Ein­stein to work out what mes­sage this is send­ing out.

I’ve never been one to ma­nip­u­late through tears partly be­cause I look like Fun­gus The Bo­gey­man when I cry. I’m also not very good at let­ting go with my emo­tions.

Ir­ri­tat­ing Col­league on the other hand is a dab hand (lit­er­ally). Whether it’s a col­league talk­ing about their child’s lat­est achieve­ment (me first!) or giv­ing de­tails about a sickly pet she’s al­ways ready with a cal­cu­lated for-ef­fec­tonly squeezed-out teardrop that slowly rolls down her shiny Resty­lane-filled cheek. “She’s so lovely.” The tears also come when she hasn’t com­pleted what she’s been tasked with. That lit­tle glis­ten­ing droplet of wa­ter skil­fully makes its way out again, usu­ally cou­pled with a huge sob clev­erly mask­ing some lame ex­cuse.

And, yes, like the nine-year-old in Mas­ter A’s class, she al­ways gets her way – and away with it.

Onion, any­one?

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