I could use a little help. I’m have a real quandary right now. Let me preface this by saying that my child is far from perfect. Carlos’ school friend, I’ll call him Dave, was over for a play date this afternoon. The boys have been friends since preschool. This particular friend was a rough kid at age 3 and is even rougher at 7. By rough I mean he punched me in the stomach once last year at the playground in front of his mom, the kids and other parents. There was no reason for it. He just ran towards me and launched his fist into my stomach. I gritted my teeth in surprise and embarrassment and waved off any concern.
Dave has always been rough and tumble with my son as well. Boys will be boys they say, and to some degree I agree. My son can wrestle and play tough like the rest of them, but overall he’s not an aggressive kid. Dave, on the other hand, has been known to pin kids down on the ground including my son, he gives extremely hard “bear hugs,” and he is destructive.
This afternoon while playing outside Dave “accidentally” pulled down part of the trampoline frame. There is no trampoline liner because of the winter so all that remains is the frame. I specifically told the boys not to play on it, but that obviously fell on deaf ears. My husband seems to think it can be fixed. I hope so.
Then the boys came in and Dave took his muddy shoes off and threw them down on the floor with a thud. A little while later the boys went back out to play and I caught Dave running and jumping into the fence. Now fences are not cheap and this is not a crappy chain link fence around my yard. Having had it at this point I went out and sternly asked Dave to stop jumping into the fence. He mostly complied, but I did see him do it a few more times slightly less aggressively so I let it go.
On top of the aggressive behavior this boy has a very fresh mouth on him. The second he got in my car he started with Jesus Christ (the boys go to Catholic School!) and dammit. OK not major swears, but not words I let Carlos use. On one occasion when Dave came hiking with us, as soon as his mom dropped him off and left he said Shit and Fuck (excuse my language!). Seriously?!
My last straw was the ride home. I agreed to bring Dave home because he has two sisters and I figured it would be easier on his mom. I really try to make playdates convenient and hassle free. The boys were talking and joking in the back. Suddenly Dave started screeching loudly at Carlos, “I’m going to kill you” over and over. After a few times I said, “that’s not a nice thing to say.” He suggested that he was saying it because Carlos was joking about him being a farmer. I told Carlos to stop. Dave then continued with his screaming chant “I’m going to kill you.” Only this time I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw his hands around Carlos’ neck. I turned around and told him to get his hands off of my son’s neck immediately. Dave did what I asked, but it was all I could do not to hit the gas and get this child home as quickly as possible.
We pulled into his driveway and I instructed Carlos to stay in the car. Dave tried pulling him out despite what I had said. I told Dave to stop and he relented, turned and ran into the house slamming the door in my face. I was not surprised, but in that moment I didn’t know how I was going to stop the annoyance from showing on my face. I softened my mouth and eyes into a smile and opened the door praying I would not show signs of exasperation. Dave’s mom came into the entryway and I handed her Dave’s things. She asked how he was and I softly said “the boy’s had a fun time.” We chatted for a minute and then I left.
Carlos and I talked about the play date in the car. Despite his friend’s behavior Carlos was respectful all afternoon. He tried to convince Dave to behave a few times. Now believe me when I say Carlos can be fresh and gets into trouble at home. He’s not the best at sharing. He can cop an attitude. However, we deal with his behavior at home and hope and pray that he never misbehaves at other people’s homes. If something does come up about his behavior elsewhere we are on top of it. I will not tolerate disrespectful behavior. I know a couple of his friends’ moms very well and I know for a fact that they would tell me truthfully if he were a handful, rude, disrespectful, destructive or aggressive.
I want Carlos to feel comfortable about having his friends over and I want his friends to feel comfortable coming over. I’m just not sure how to handle things if Dave comes over again.
On a different note, I always feel badly when Carlos friends over because we live in a small home. Carlos doesn’t have a play room nor does he have an abundance of toys. Our office/spare room has been taken over by Legos which is fine. Our back yard is boring by comparison to other kids who have the large wooden playscape swing sets, really big trampolines, battery operated jeeps and lots of outdoor toys. I worry that our home is boring to his friends. I often try to plan things out of the house to make it more exciting or interesting for the kids.
I would love any advice or words of wisdom.
Okay Aimee, I know I don’t have kids or anything, but jeez…that kid seems like a piece of work. Personally I think you are being WAY TOO NICE. I would talk with the mom immediately and voice your concerns. And I would probably not have this kid over to my house…it seems like he is disrespectful to objects and to you. The only other thing I could suggest is to lay down the house rules for this child and if he does not obey, off to home he goes. Just reading your post I got SO MAD and also FRIGHTENED for you. This is not a kid that you want influencing your child. Maybe talking to Carlos about why he is not allowed over will help. As far as not having an interesting enough house to play at….ARGH…don’t kids have any imaginations these days?? Boy do I sound like a grouchy old person! What about board games? I just feel so badly for you…this kid sounds like anything could set him off and the fact that he even SAID “I want to kill you” to Carlos would be enough for me to never allow him over again. And the fact that he had his hands around Carlos’ neck was even worse. I would DEFINITELY speak to his mother, maybe she has no idea what is going on with him.
What do you WISH you could have done? It seems like you were unhappy with the situation but also a bit nervous as to be confrontational???
I mean if this is how the kid is at 7, how will he be at 10, 13, 16? Will he be the type of child that will provide positive influences for Carlos? Even though they have been friends for a long time, a clean break may be best.
I’ll be interested to read what other people suggest, especially other moms.
Of course, this is all simple to write out, but could be very difficult to carry out.
What a stressful situation.
Kaye, you asked me what I wish I could have done. I have been thinking about this question and I think the only answer is that I wish I could have talked to the mom. But you are correct I’m not just a bit nervous about confronting her, I’m terrified. This entire situation makes me so uncomfortable. I’ve been very open with Carlos about my feelings. He is aware that Dave won’t be coming to play anytime soon, if ever again. Carlos agrees that his friend’s behavior was inappropriate, but Carlos hasn’t exactly dropped him as a friend.
I say the same thing about kids using their imaginations. Carlos has a wonderful, fun imagination. He has a couple of friends that will play spies and police type games if they are not chasing imaginary zombies! They all just seem to get bored so easily.
I tell Orlando we did things the wrong way. We should have raised Carlos in Mozambique. Kids are kids there. There is no need for a play date because you simply go play with the kids in quarter of a mile radius in any direction. Kids wouldn’t even think of saying “I’m bored” to their mom. Kids do not disrespect grown ups! If they do the parents side with the other parents. There’s none of this “well my kid would never do that.”
I’ll fill you in more when I see you.
Hi Aimee, Firstly, it doesn’t matter how big your home is. Kids come to play with Carlos, not a big house. Secondly, you should make decisions that make you feel good. Maybe Dave, Carlos, and you should go to the park instead of him messing with your fence. Maybe you need to discuss it gently with Dave’s mom. If Dave is losing opportunities from his behavior, well that’s not even good for him.
Boy! Mothering–we never know when we’re doing it right or wrong. Lol. Sometimes, I just ask–Am I mothering you right or wrong? And I’m sort of surprised when the answer is usually right. 😀
Thanks Marion. You are right, it’s not the house the house that matters. Carlos loves his home and has never been ashamed of it.
Actually I do a lot more play dates away from the house than at it. We go to the playground a lot when the weather is decent and I also take Carlos and his friends hiking, geocaching, swimming, etc.
I know I should have spoken to the mom that day. I probably still should, but I don’t think I can. I will write.
Honestly? Kid sounds like a sociopath. That is not hyperbole, nor am I qualified to diagnose psychiatric disorders, but, come on — a bad seed is a bad seed. Violent, disrespectful, looks to shock adults with his speech and behavior, etc. I’d begin to distance your son from him and hope the friendship fades away. He struck you a year ago and you’re still letting your son hang out with him?
Michele, I appreciate your advice. Given your last sentence I obviously come across as some simple minded idiot who has poor judgment and lack of concern with my son’s choice of friends. My son goes to a very small school. There are only 13 kids in his class. Oddly Dave is very well behaved in school.
Carlos doesn’t “hang out” with Dave. He has had very well monitored play dates. The boys are 7. I can count on one hand the amount of times he has been with Dave since the incident in the playground. It is not my place to judge another child or his parents. I try to be understanding and kind. Being a mom is hard enough without all the judging and criticism that goes around. Admittedly I also do not like confrontation. I do hope the friendship fades as well. I will take your words into consideration. Thank you for commenting.
I’m not a mother, so I can’t really offer any advice on the subject. I do have to say as far as a small house and not having an abundance of toys go, kids don’t really care. Plus at the age of 7 kids are still using their imagination so much that I think it’s really better not to have a million toys. I remember all of us neighborhood kids playing and we made up games and stuff all the time 🙂
You’re right Sam it’s really my insecurity about the house and toys even though I prefer Carlos to use his imagination and play with what is available. He has a wonderful imagination. He is a fun kid, but I think kids grow up very quickly nowadays and much of what he enjoys is often boring to the other kids. I also remember playing with my neighbors’ kids and we were so inventive, outdoors all day and never seemed bored. Sadly we have no kids close by so all the play dates come from school or friends we know from other activities.