May 15, 2008

Play at my house - why don't you?!?!?

I have a similar situation that Justice Jones had a few weeks ago about playdates - in this case, it's not really a date - and therein lies the problem!

There is a little boy who lives a couple houses down the street from us and he's about a year older than DD. The little boy "J" is ALWAYS outside. It absolutely drives me crazy - 10 am in the morning, he's outside, 3 pm in the afternoon, he's outside, 9 pm at night - J's outside (are you sensing my annoyance yet????). Anyway, because he's always outside DD always wants to play with him. It was fine during the winter because they would see each other periodically and play outside for a few minutes because it would eventually get too cold for DD and she would come inside. Anyway, now that the weather is great, we are greeted at the car by J - literally! Before I can even get out of the car, J is standing there...waiting. It's a little inconvenient because there are times that DD has not yet eaten and J is there waiting for us. And of course, as soon as DD sees J she forgets that she's hungry or needs to be changed. So, it definitely is hampering my ability to get my child in the house to start the evening routine. What really bugs me as well is that his family says absolutely nothing about it (Gripe # 1).

At first, DD and J would play outside and call it quits after about an hour or so -- That was totally fine with me. Sometimes, I even encouraged J to join DD is her playroom in our house because that gave me the flexibility to get dinner started or watch the news or whatever my heart desired. I much preferred them playing in the play room than outside because of all the safety issues that can occur when they are outside.

Anyway, DH allowed DD to go to J's house to play. A decision that had me uneasy, but not necessarily upset. I was never allowed to go to other people's houses to play when I was a child - so I'm a little tainted in my view of this practice. But because DH was not as 'protected' as I was, he didn't really see a problem with the home-visits. So, I let it go. But, recently I started feeling more uncomfortable with it - mainly because I don't particularly like the fact that J's family will let him come over to our house without asking any questions or even checking on him. I don't agree with their parenting style and I wonder what kind of supervision my 2.5 yr old is getting when she goes over to their house. So, I talked to DH about my concerns and although he doesn't agree he said he would refrain from allowing her over there.

Now, back to the issue...because I don't want DD at J's house, J has been invited to our house. However, J has an older cousin "JJ". She's about 5 years old and they are always playing together. JJ does not live with J but she visits almost every afternoon. So, now we have the issue of not only J coming over to our house, but JJ is coming too. To be honest, we have never really invited JJ - she just tags along because J is coming over. The problem is that JJ is much older than DD and she tries to boss DD around and she wreaks havoc on our playroom. She trashes a lot of the toys and she plays with things that we restrict and then she tries to go walking through our house rather than playing in the playroom and we don't allow that. (Gripe #2).

I know this sounds like I'm over-reacting but I don't want to be mean to a child, but JJ just doesn't listen and is a little harder to control than J. Of course, there is always a little bit of hesitation in exercising control over someone else's child and as a parent, I don't want to be forced to be too firm with JJ but that's what it's coming to. Also, with JJ around J becomes more difficult to handle as well. So.....JJ really changes the dynamic of the playtime. I don't want to be mean, but I don't want her coming over to my house. What do I do? How do I handle it? Any advice......


Justice Fergie said...

wow! what a predicament. we have a similar situation with our neighbor across the street. she (and her daughter) are fabulous (really) but sometimes, especially in the evenings when I come home from work, i just need to get the evening routine started, like you said, and having the girls on an impromptu playdate just throws everything off. to make matters worse, we really don't have a backyard, so most of the playing the girls do is in the front yard...and then the neighbors see us and come on over or invite the girls over and I have to be the uncomfortable bad guy and come up with a reason for us to postpone the playdate. AND the last time we went over there, it was for a good hour (and I only get home around 6pm) and the girls had a blast. so much so that they didn't want to come home and I had to drag them back kicking and screaming. it was all too much. now they ask to go over there all the time. what to do? what to do?

ok, so your post wasn't about me, was it? onto your question.

i definitely think that you need to (1) talk to J's parents about JJ. Explain to them that you think she it is better if J came over to play by himself b/c of the age difference and differing play interests; (2) go over to J's house with DD. i definitely wouldn't let her go alone at such a young age, especially if you have concerns about how the kids are being supervised; and lastly (3) suggest a standing playdate, i.e. Fridays from 6pm - 7pm. Explain that it's better on DD's evening schedule.

don't be shy! you (and DH) are DD's only advocates. better to be safe than sorry! said...

What!!??? I disagree with the fact that a 3.5 year old is outside unsupervised!! That's nuts. I would not let DD over there without you or DH and if that's how J's parents take care of their own child. Also, if J or JJ's parents feel comfortable enough to entrust their children in your care despite not knowing if they should, then they should not have any problems with you disciplining those children while in your home. If JJ doesn't like it, she can stay her little behind at home.

winecountrylawmom said...

It's your house. You make the rules. It's okay to say no. Repeat after me - it's perfectly fine to say no. You don't even need to give a reason. You are the parent and the adult and it's your house. Period. I think you are allowing this, even though you don't like it, because you feel sorry for the kid who is clearly not adequately supervised by his/her parents. As sad as that is- it's not your job to raise their kid because they don't. Trust your mom instincts and do what you feel comfortable with without letting a 3.5 year old or their irresponsible parents make you feel guilty about it.

Shelliza said...

I would say something to the parents in a nice sorta way. Then if JJ and J keeps showing up, just greet them at the door and say, "Sorry guys, it's not a good time to play. But, you could come back (day & time)."
Forget about being mean - just say what you need to, otherwise you'll be taken for granted and I can see you don't like the feeling

Anonymous said...

WHAT? A child that young is outside playing by himself. UH UH. When I first started reading this, I thought you were talking about a child that was at least six years old. As my grandma would say, Lawdhammercy.

Now, I had that same problem with the next door neighbor. My son is only 3, but she is 6. Everytime we get home from work, there she is. I couldn't make it into my house before she did! I just told her one day that Aidan has a new rule. He can only play at 7:00. I know that she has to be home when the lights come on (old school), so by 7:30 she's outta here. Now I only have to put up with her standing there staring a hole through my head when I pull up into the driveway. Ugh.

I would just get a little jiggy with JJ one time and let her know the house ruled and she'll probably stop. Sadly, that's probably how she's accustomed to being handled and she'll probably respond to it better than if it were coated with sugar. If any adult has the gall to come say something to you about it, you can begin by immediately giving them the "first of all, she shouldn't even be outside....." Dang, I think I just realized I might be a tad bit confrontational.

pserendipity said...

Rules. House rules is what I meant to say. My bad.

Anonymous said...

I can not BELIEVE a child that young is allowed to play outside alone unsupervised! Madness. Anyway, like previous commenters have said, it's ok to enforce rules. It's your house, be polite, but firm. That's how I am when kids come over here. And sometimes, I have to cut the play short and say we have to eat dinner, do homework, etc.

Justice Ny said...

Thanks for the advice. I'll update you on my progress.

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