Playdating With the Enemy
Amalah is currently on maternity leave. In her absence, however, she’s just as tethered to the computer as ever, and will be using this space to ask you — our intrepid Advice Smackdown Commenter Crew — questions. What’s been baffling her, as a parent, you may wonder? Why, she’s so glad you asked!
Dear Internet-Wan Kenobi,
What do you do when you (quiet voice) just don’t particularly like your friends’ kids? Or maybe just one particular friend with just one particular kid?
So I do have a friend, an old friend, and said friend has a kid slightly older than my oldest. The age difference is enough that I’ve never expected our kids to be best buddies or anything, but we’ve always been able to get together with the kids, without any problems. (And if you are reading this, please allow me to guarandamntee that it is NOT YOU, we’re talking a completely off-the-Internet-and-blogging-grid of a friendship here. Someone who doesn’t read my blogs, isn’t even on Facebook, and is just generally I-swear-to-God NOT YOU.)
Not so much, anymore. The last few get-togethers have…not really gone well. My friend’s kid has developed a bit of a mean streak, honestly. A mean streak that invariably gets aimed at Noah, no matter if they are together one-on-one or in a group setting, like a birthday party. We’re talking teasing, exclusion and sometimes — OH MY HEART — making fun of him for stuff related to his special needs, like the way he talks or his social quirks.
The kid is old enough — and smart enough — NOT to pull this crap in front of Mom, so my friend doesn’t know. I KNOW, though. And I’ve gotten annoyed enough to scold the kid on Noah’s behalf, because NOT COOL. But then I don’t know if it’s my place to like, tattle on the kid to my friend. Especially since I know some of it is just kind of inevitable and I can’t necessarily protect Noah from this sort of thing all the time but SERIOUSLY. I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE. YOU DON’T GET TO TALK TO MY BABY LIKE THAT.
So this — combined with what I imagine is actually going on between them when I’m NOT present and listening in (Noah isn’t the best witness, but I know he’s not a fan of this playmate AT ALL) — has led me to avoid getting together with my friend. I turn down invites or put them off and haven’t made even the slightest half-hearted mention of having them over in AGES now. Unless we’re specifically talking a sans-kid get-together. Which, of course, is pretty rare. But I just can’t bear the thought of knowingly sending Noah off to spend time with someone so openly mean to him, even if he doesn’t fully comprehend that sort of casual cruelty yet.
What would you do? Just put on your big-girl pants and talk honestly with your friend (oh, GOD) about her kid’s behavior? (For the record, I’m not really sure she’s the sort who will take it well or even believe me in the first place. I’m guessing I’d get told I’m overreacting, most likely.) Continue the avoidance and hope the kid outgrows this and becomes a relatively pleasant human being again at some point? Or until I feel like Noah has the verbal/social skills to hold his own? Sack up and have a supervised get-together? Hover and helicopter more? Or less?
Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Been-there-done-that commiserations? Unleash your wisdom in the comments section, please!