Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nice family, nasty kid


Today we hung out with new friends on our street. A family with two little girls exactly the same age as my boys. The Dad is friendly and fun, the Mum is interesting, chatty, and we have a lot in common. The baby seems sweet. So you can probably guess the problem..

The three year old is kind of a monster.

Look, I have a three year old. I know how it goes. They're unpredictable. In the course of an hour they can be sweet, funny, outgoing, shy, sullen and terrifying. Ollie has mood swings, he gets angry and he even expresses himself with violence sometimes. He tends to punch the air when he doesn't like what's happening, and once at a Target he told me that he was going to "pinch your face right off your neck till your head pops off".

But I've never really seen him hit another kid (although I am sure it's just a matter of time). I can't say the same about this new little friend. Maybe we caught her on a bad day, but over the course of our visit she hit, kicked, pushed and yelled at poor Oliver who, to his credit, remained mostly calm and cool while she acted out and was reprimanded. But right around the time I decided to wrap up our visit, she landed a swat and he asked sadly to go home.

My heart broke thinking about how open and friendly he was trying to be, and how relatively little I was really doing to protect him from her nastiness. I feel pretty confident that if someone presented a serious threat to my kids, I'd do something to intervene, but I also don't feel comfortable being disciplinarian with someone else's child, in their home. And toddlers are tricky, just when you think they've turned fully evil, they turn it around and are sweet as can be, so on my side of the visit, I was just waiting for the switch to flip, giving this little girl the benefit of the doubt that she had a mode other than violent.

But like I said they live on our street and without this issue, I'd have been looking forward to a blossoming friendship. So now I feel like I'm in an awkward position. When parents click but the kid's a menace what's the right call? I should point out that while I've been around terribly behaved kids who's parents were clearly the problem, I couldn't really see that here - every time she was inappropriate, she was appropriately handled.. there were just so many times.

Do I give this potential friendship another chance, operating under the assumption that this was a bad day for a good kid? Or would spending more time together be tantamount to forcing my son to hang out with a bully? Do I just need to get a little more "mama bear" on this little kid if things get nasty? How would you handle this?

1 comment:

  1. Ugh - rough call! I think you have to give the kid another shot (as long as Ollie is cool with that). Maybe she was having a rough day - missed a nap, was coming down with something, was hungry? Did the parents say anything about it being unusual behaviour?

    I think talking with Ollie about it and making sure he knows he can tell the other child not to hit him and that he should tell her how it makes him feel. I think sometimes kids expect that we're going to intervene and maybe he felt a bit like you - weird about disciplining another kid.

    Maybe play date #2 should be at a park? That way Ollie can walk away if he doesn't like hanging out with the other kid?

    If play date #2 is a disaster and you really like the parents, then I think maybe you just need adult only (or adults and babies) play dates for now. Hopefully the older kid is just going through a phase and a few months down the road (or years, who knows) you can do family play dates again.


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