Friday, June 06, 2008

The Pushy Playdate

For those parents out there, tell me if you've ever faced this dilemma and if you have a solution. My son (Wildcat) is friends with a neighbor boy that he's played with for years. The two actually have a ton in common, like all the same things and we're friends with their parents. We know our values are pretty much the same as theirs and it's an easy playdate to set up.

The neighbor boy has a little sister too. She's a little younger than Miss Kitty (my daughter), but getting old enough now to also join in the fun. Miss Kitty likes to play with her when we see them at the gym and they seem to mutually enjoy one another's company.

Neighbor boy has been raised with good manners, probably better than my own kids. His mom calls ahead to make sure he picks up what he's played with before she picks him up. In short, it has all the makings of a dream playdate scenario for both my kids.

There's just one problem--and it has to do with pushiness. You see, while my son has everything in common with neighbor boy, we run into a problem when they've had one too many playdates together. And, that's the pushy factor. And, today I'm getting to witness some of what makes my son complain and eventually not want to play with neighbor boy after a few times.

In the car last week on the way home from neighbor boy's house, Wildcat shared with me,

"Mom, you know how when we have friends over we let them play our games first, because they are our guest?""

Yes," I answered. "Well, neighbor boy always reminds me of that when he comes over to play. But, the problem is, when I go to his house and I'm the guest, he STILL plays the whole time and I just stand and watch him."
As he's told me before, the playdate always goes as this boy wants it to go, regardless of where they play. They play what the boy wants, and when it comes time for my son's turn, well they're out of time

Now, before this, I've sort of put the blame on my Wildcat.
"If you want him to take turns, you need to tell him that. Tell him you don't want to play anymore unless he plays fair. Stand up for yourself."
Wildcat does have a problem with passivity and avoiding conflict sometimes, so I assumed that was the main issue.

But, today I'm seeing the problem up close and I can tell Wildcat has had enough. For example, we set up our pool and slip-n-slide for the kids to play. Only 5 minutes into it, neighbor boy was done.

"Let's go make an obstacle course on your fort!" he boldly orders.

Wildcat pauses and says, "But, I'm having FUN playing in the water.
Can't we do this a little longer?"

"No. Let's do this instead," neighbor boy says enthusiastically.
(You can't fault his enthusiasm at least.)
Wildcat shrugs and walks away from the slip-n-slide. I whispered to him that we'd get back on there after neighbor boy and his sister left.

After only a couple of minutes on the fort, with renewed vim, neighbor boy announces, "Hey, let's go get your cars and make them race on the slide!"

Wildcat sighs, and goes with neighbor boy to get the cars. They put the water on the fort with the cars.

The next thing I know, I see Wildcat at the bottom of the slide, watching neighbor boy send the cars down. As he laughs and bends down to pick up the cars at the bottom, neighbor boy barks,
"Don't TOUCH that. Just STAND AND WATCH. I will come and get them."
Wildcat looks at me defeated and sighs again and I decide I need to intervene some.

OK, neighbor boy, once you are done, Wildcat gets a turn doing the same, OK?"

"Sure!" He says happily.

Once he finishes sending the cars down, seems to take him quite awhile, my son goes to take his turn when we see neighbor boy wrapping up in a towel.

"I'm done playing out here. Let's go in now," he says.
Wildcat gives me the see-mom-I-told-you-so look again.

"Hey, Mrs, Momcat?"

Neighbor boy begins and I already know where this is going.

"What about us having a spend-the-night tonight, now that it is summer?"

"Uh, well...I'm not sure...maybe this weekend...uh, we have a garage sale and we don't know what you all are doing either."

"I'll ask my Mom," he says confidently.

"We'll see..." I say hesitantly, "are you talking at YOUR house or at ours?"

"Yours!" He answers happily.

Hmm...." I say wearlily...
Now, I have to come up with excuses to put this off even longer because I know while his family would even love to have Wildcat over, Wildcat has had enough for awhile. And, his mom is a good a friend of mine, so that makes it all the more awkward.

As I walk upstairs to check on the girls playing inside now because their older brothers came in, I see little neighbor girl with my daughter's Leapster game playing happily while Miss Kitty sits to the side waiting patiently. Suddenly, Miss Kitty looks up with a tired look about her.

Oh no, here we go again...

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Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

I think that those children are used to doing what they want when they want. They need to learn to take turns.
Next time they come over, you might consider refereeing. And if the guest doesn't like it, he can go home.
My mom sent many a kid home for not playing nicely... And so did I.

It's a skill... :-)

3:09 PM, June 06, 2008  

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