When the Kids Don’t Always Play Nice

The other day, as I was reading through the blogs I follow and so often read (but lately have been lurking rather than commenting – sorry folks!), I read a post that talked about making meaningful friendships as an adult by Emily at Nap Time is My Time.  In her post, she talked about how she plans on trying to connect.  It’s funny because in an earlier post on her blog (which you really should check out for some of the crafting ideas alone!), she talked about how it is frustrating and the whole “why me” mentality that sometimes befalls us when we find ourselves on the outs with people we thought were becoming friends.

It got me to thinking because recently I had my first instance of “I’m not sure our kids are really friends” and I found myself kind of hurt by it all.  The daughter made a friend at the playground a few months ago.  Her mom and I started chatting and seemingly hit it off.  We had a few out of the home play dates and things seemed to go well.  Then we went to their house one day and the Daughter was beyond excited.  She got to see where her new friend lived, saw all the toys the new friend had that she didn’t, and then did a thing that a lot of four-year olds do and got a little territorial, despite the fact she wasn’t in her own house.  I found myself somewhat floundering.  I was trying to gently explain that it was her friend’s house and her toys and she couldn’t tell her friend what she could play with in her own house.  It was awkward.  We stayed a little while longer but when it was clear that they were not playing together, rather fighting together, we left.

I was well aware that my child was not exactly behaving well on this play date but it was one of those things where you kind of wanted to see if she could work it out on her own, like they try to do at pre-school.  But on the other hand, there were times where a little guidance was needed.  It was also possible that the play date was running a little longer than it should have, but I’ll chalk that one up to my fault.

After that fateful day, we didn’t hear from them for almost a month.  I began to wonder what if I had done something wrong and that was the cause of the radio silence.  Then we got an invite for another play date.  Things started out ok until the Daughter felt like her friend was ignoring her and playing more with the other kids at the playground.  Then all hell broke loose.  The crying, the whining, the fighting, it just imploded.  I forget the exact comment I made but the other mother said something along the lines of yeah, I didn’t know how to bring this up but The Daughter is a little bossy and it made the friend not want to play with her.  They decided to give the Daughter another chance though.  She also explained that there were other reasons we hadn’t heard from them in the month but I guess that was big factor (at least that was how it registered in my brain).

By Luis Argerich from Buenos Aires, Argentina (SWING SWing Swing swing) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Luis Argerich from Buenos Aires, Argentina (SWING SWing Swing swing) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It was weird, the emotions that I ranged through, as I sat and listened.  At first I thought it might be a reflection of me as a mother.  Then I thought there was something wrong with the Daughter.  Then I didn’t know what to think.  It was just one of those moments I probably took personally and maybe shouldn’t have?  Who knows.  As the play date went on, the kids clearly were not enjoying each other’s company and when we said it was time to leave, the Daughter broke down into a meltdown of epic proportions and I watched as the friend and her mom made a quick exit.  They texted me later to see if the Daughter was ok (which she was, she just didn’t want to leave the playground and was probably a little tired hence the extra drama).  I just felt weird though.  My kid made quite the scene at the playground – I could feel all the other mothers’ eyes staring.  One even tried to offer a sympathetic word, but it just was one of those moments where my head was swimming from the conversation, my child was clearly upset, and I just didn’t know which end was up.

I thought I was making a friend but if the daughters don’t get along, then can that friendship work?  I know that both are only young children and both have very clear ideas of what they want and when they want it.  In that sense they are both very similar.  However, is that really the only reason for the playground blues?  Is there more to it and does it involve the moms too?  I just know that it was not pleasant and I found myself wondering if I would ever have a close group of local friends with (or without) kids that I could go out with or have over or make plans to just drop by for coffee?

One thing that came from this whole thing was actually a glorious epiphany.  I realized that it was ok.  It was ok that this may not work out.  If it does, that would be great, but if it doesn’t it will be ok.  The Daughter may have to learn the hard way that being bossy isn’t the way to make friends. So be it.  But on the other hand, knowing what you want and learning how to express that in a positive way, that is a skill that every person should possess.  I just need to figure out how to teach that balance.  I know with age, it will come. I also know that as I get more involved with school activities, and going back to school myself, I will hopefully make those connections a little closer to home.

I know I do have a good, nay – amazingly fantastic, group of friends that I can at least call to talk to and hopefully someday, we might all live a little closer to each other so we can go drink bucketfuls of margaritas when things like this happen.

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under friends, Tales of Parenthood

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