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.