Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kid Drama

Claire comes in crying.  "Cammie won't let me be a teenager!" she says.

I clean her up, take her back to our backyard and say to the big kids, "Guess what.  Claire gets to be a teenager now, ok?"

"Ok," say the kids.  And that was that.

"You really want to get in the middle of that?" asks B.J. when I come in.

"They always make her be the baby, because she's little, and she hates it," I reply.

Do you get involved in your kids' spats with the neighborhood kids?  It seems like we're having more friction on our street lately than we had at the beginning of the summer.  I think everyone was so relieved to be outside after the winter that they all played in peace and harmony in the beginning.  But now, after months and months of togetherness, tempers are starting to flare and patience is wearing thin.

I think we need a good snowstorm.

I know some of the drama stems from my kids misunderstanding - like the day that MG got mad that Maddie's mom was watching Cammie and not her.  "It's not fair!" she sobbed, even though I was home at the time and she didn't need to be watched...   She just wants to hang with the big dogs, even when it doesn't quite make sense.  So I told her, "Ok, Miss Chelsea's watching you.  Bettter?"  She beamed, and ran back out to play.

I know sometimes the big girls on the block don't want to play with the little kids, and I'm trying to get my little kids to stop expecting the big kids to play with them all the time.  "Play with the girls who are your own age, and let the big girls be big girls," I tell them, knowing that the big girls will want to play with the littler kids tomorrow.

It doesn't help that Mary Grace can be bossy.  "I gave Maddie two choices..." she'll tell me.  "Well, no wonder she didn't want to play with you anymore, honey.  You're not her mom, you don't get to give her choices!"  She's bossy with Claire, too.  "When you're the Mommy you can tell other people what to do," I tell her at least 5 times a day, "But right now you're a kid and you only need to worry about your own choices."

I did the exact same stuff when I was a kid, and suffered socially for it.  It may just be part of being an oldest sister.  She'll learn.  I did.  I haven't given any of my friends a time out in quite a while.  But the learning is hard.  And sometimes I don't know if I'm navigating them through it very well.  Those precocious behaviors that we've been telling her are "so cute" for the past five years aren't cute to her peers - they're obnoxious.  And learning that hurts.

So, yeah, I get involved, even though I know that the kid we picked on most when we were kids was the one whose mom got the most annoyed with us (sorry, Kevin and Debbie - they're both Facebook friends now, so I'm hoping they both have forgiven me at this point). 

Claire just came back in, "Nathan's mad at me too..." and something about him not letting her grab his swing.  "Why don't you just stay inside?" I ask her.  But 10 seconds later she's on her way back outside.


angel0199 said...

I try not to address the neighbor kids unless it is a major issue because I have been known to go a little momma bear. I use it more as an opportunity to talk to my kids about how to treat others and how to handle when others treat us not so nicely. Now at Claire's age I understand becoming involved if the kids are much older or she is really upset.

Last year Abby had a girl at school that told her she could only playhouse if she was the dog. So Abby just quit playing house with her. After a while some of the other girls got tired of miss bossy and quit playing with her too. Now it is a new school year and they all play together again and she is less bossy. Learning opportunity for everyone.

One thing I am trying to teach my kids is not to play with people that make them feel worse about themselves. That doesn't mean you ditch a friend over little mistakes or who is going through a bad time. It means that you insist on being treated well. I especially hope my girls will follow this when it comes time for dating.

Cate said...

Hey! Finally catching up on my blog-reading... you have posted some great posts lately.

I've been trying to deal with this issue too: how much to get involved? In Esther's classroom there are a couple girls who say they like Esther or don't like Esther based on her clothes for the day. Or they say they want to be her friend one day and that they won't be her friend the next day. I have talked to her about how these girls are not good friends if they say this, that no good friend would act that way. She doesn't seem entirely put out by it, but I worry that it will get more intense as they get older. I have talked to the teacher about it, asking her to look out for it -- and here's the thing -- I worry that Esther is doing it too and not fessing up. I almost feel like having a little party with all the girls at my house and talking to them about friendship and how a good friend acts. But I worry that I'm stepping over my bounds.