I’m gonna tell on you! Those dreaded words of the playground; when you had done something that you knew was going to land you in trouble.
These were immediately followed by profuse apologies. If my daughters at around age 7 were anything to go by, then you would be aiming for an SPS of about 4. SPS stands for Sorries Per Second! Your SPS would increase based on who you were going to be reported to. For, me it was my dad who would illicit the highest SPS. Not because I would receive a hiding, but because he expected the world of me and to disappoint him would be to sully my reputation in his sight.
Beyond a high SPS, you would also make amends. Promises of better behaviour and if you knew that the tattler was likely to actually tell, then amends flowed fast and furious. Amazingly the threat of telling did not lose us friends, but rather helped us form better relationships. We understood boundaries better and we knew there were consequences to our action
As adults, we seem to have forgotten the importance of setting these boundaries; of forming, storming, norming and performing.
Why did we stop telling?
My guess is that we became hung up on optics. It became more important to look happy than to be happy; more important to look successful than be successful; more important to seem than to be.
It has been a lot harder to keep up the optics in this season. Relationships have been tested in so many different ways.
Families have been forced to be together more than ever before. There are some for whom this has been the proverbial straw and things snapped. For others, it has been a time of discovery and learning. For all, it has been a time of adjusting to a new order. We are forced to be in closer proximity and some of the things we are discovering are disturbing. Before the camel’s back breaks, who can you tell?
Work relationships that were seemingly okay have been tested by distance. Once loyal employees are now having to struggle between work and the pull of duvets, time with the kids, Netflix and experimenting a new recipe. You have noticed some deadlines slipping, some sloppiness enter the fray. Who do you call?
The stresses of life seem to be taking a toll and you see a friend drinking a little too much, driving under the influence, swallowing some pills or smoking something more potent than tobacco. How do you raise this?
Nobody wants to be considered a snitch; we do not want to hurt our family, friends and colleague’s feelings by sounding accusatory. Even worse if the relationship is not solid as a rock, for this may just break it. So as the Ghost-busters song goes, “Who you gonna call?”
We had a discussion with my hubby around this subject and I suggested that we should have a Tattle Buddy. Somebody who I give him permission to call if he thinks I am out of line and he has reached the end of his tether on what to do. This has to be someone I trust implicitly and someone who has an acute BS-metre and a low BS-threshold. Someone whose values are aligned to mine. After much discussion, we each came up with a name.
What this does for me is that it heightens my awareness, it lets me know that whereas our relationship is private, I cannot be silly and get away with it because he has an authorised Tattle Buddy.
When we took on a new tenant recently, I also asked her for a Tattle Buddy. I asked her for the contact of someone I can call if her rent is in arrears and she refuses to communicate with us. This means that she is aware that if she defaults, she must communicate or else her designated Tattle Buddy gets to hear about it.
When families start to feel the pressure of abuse, whether psychological, emotional or physical, how much better if all parties have the name of a person that they have been expressly told that they can call and report the perpetrator.
How cool would it be if we can tell our children that they can call so-and-so if they sense something is not right in the home? Take the guess work out of who to call in case of emergency.
Think about it. Who should I call if I see you misbehaving and you will not listen to me? Who will listen to me and confront you without judging you?