Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Obnoxious Playdate Quandry

The other day, Patrick had a friend over to play after preschool, another little boy named James. James seems to be kind of a milk-toast kid, a four year-old who doesn't talk much when adults are around and just hangs around. Anyway, Patrick often mentions that he's played with him during prek, so I figured it would be nice to have him over. I like having my kids' friends over to the house as often as possible. The kids like to be together, of course, but more importantly I get to see who they spend their time with when I'm not around, along with the added bonus of getting time to do my own thing while they all amuse each other. So, I figured this would be a good way of meeting James while simultaneously having my boy busy playing with this seemingly quiet boy. His mother said it was his first drop-off playdate, gave me her cell phone number, and left for two hours. At first things were fine, because they got on like gangbusters, and I was very happy. Eventually, I heard rumblings about their being hungry, so I popped some mac-n-cheese on the stove. A few minutes later, Patrick came running into the dining room, but James was nowhere to be found. I went into the living room, and there he sat on the couch, arms folded, with a face that could curdle milk! I asked him if everything was OK, and he completely ignored me. After several attempts to get him to come into the kitchen, or even talk to me, he finally shouted, 'NO!' at me and turned away to face the back wall. I was surprised, but thought, whatever, and put my hand on his back to guide him into the kitchen. He walked along for a few minutes, then put his feet out in front of him like a mule and refused to move! I told him that if he didn't want to eat, that was fine, but that he should sit with Patrick at the table to be polite and keep him company while Patrick ate. He promptly shouted 'NO!' at me again, then turned in a progressive circle as I attempted to position myself in front of him so I could talk to him. I had had enough of him by this point, and told him that he could either do as I asked or stand in the corner, and after ignoring me for a few more minutes, HE MARCHED TO THE CORNER! He stood there the entire time Patrick ate, probably five minutes or so, and then turned around to go play with Patrick was done. I tried to talk to him again, told him that he had hurt my feelings by being so mean to me, and that when he was in our home he needed to be polite to me. He continued to ignore me, and actually turned around on the couch so he could stare at the back of the couch rather than look at me, so I finally said that it was obvious that he didn't want to be at our home any longer, so I was going to call his mother. I didn't want to do that, since it would upset Patrick to have his friend leave, and also, I don't know his mother well, and this was his first playdate, but on the other hand I couldn't allow the situation to continue. I gave him one final chance, to say sorry, as I was holding the phone in my hand. He spat 'sorry' at me, finally, so I allowed him to stay, but told him that I was sorry to say that I was going to have to tell his mother how he had behaved.

Here's the kicker - his mother was neither surprised nor upset!!! She didn't speak to him about it, have him apologize to me, or anything! She just said, 'oh, yeah, he doesn't like to eat', and that was that! On top of everything else, he pitched a fit when it was time to leave, first ignoring her and then screaming that he didn't want to go with her to their boring house. She merely coaxed him to leave, and told him to leave like a good boy so she could make plans for him to come here again. !!!!

My first thought was, over my dead body!!!!! But in hindsight, I'm not sure. On the one hand, he acted like a brat. But, on the other, he and Patrick get along very well, and have the same interests. Do I let him come over again and deal with him, knowing his mother seems to let him get away with acting like that so it's going to be an uphill battle on my end, or do I politely excuse myself from any further mentions of playdates? Typically kids are BETTER behaved for other people, and only have fits when they're truly comfortable somewhere, so my concern is, if he's like this now, what's he going to be like once he's been here several times? I've had issues with the kids fighting amongst themselves during play, but never, ever had a child be rude like that with *me*. I see his mom three days a week, and I know she's going to mention letting them play again. What to say?


Swistle said...

I think as long as they were having fun together, I'd continue to have him over. I'd draw the line, though, if he started to get destructive. Like, I wouldn't really care if he wouldn't eat or if he didn't talk politely (I mean, it would piss me off but it wouldn't make me stop letting him come to play), but if he DAMAGED anything (on purpose), that's IT.