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.