I was watching an old episode of “Modern Family” yesterday, in which Cam tells his young daughter Lily that every time she fibs she kills a bird. I briefly considered employing a similar tactic in our household…except Hailey doesn’t fib; her problem is a pointed truthfulness that can make the more sensitive creatures of this world (yours truly) shrink into a pile of pouty lower lips and self doubt. I blame my grandmother. No one is more honest than an old Mexican lady. In her shamelessly truthful glory days, Nana took note of my chunky thighs, my jelly bracelets that she thought made me look like a “home girl,” and my preteen hairstyle she dubbed “Christmas-tree like.” While it’s hard to say whether Hailey inherited Nana’s penchant for telling the painful truth, or whether Nana just acted like a 3-year old with no filter, it is safe to say that Nana’s behavior made me overly sensitive to criticism. So, when my daughter tells me, “Mom, your pants are too tight. Do you have a baby in your tummy?” I think, (in Nana voice) “chunky thighs, chunky thighs.” But then Hailey follows up with something like, ” you smell like peanut butter and trash.” And I just have to crack up. Because she’s not my Nana. She’s not meanness cloaked in “honesty;” she’s not critical. She is a child trying out words, observing, gauging reactions and making me laugh with her and at myself. And I am a 40 year old mother now. My overly critical Nana has long been gone, though her voice creeps up in my critical inner self from time to time. But as I age and as I learn each and every day how to be a better mother, I keep that harsh critic in check, because, while Hailey’s 3-year old words can occasionally sound mean, they are innocent, and I’d like to keep them that way, keeping my child free of a critical inner voice in the process. We all want better for the next generation, and for my daughter I hope that she can accept constructive criticism in a healthy way, speak lovingly to herself and others, let means words roll right off of her and rock Christmas tree hair and home girl bracelets with style.