Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Give me some advice, please...

My marvelous 4.5 year old son is a real winner socially (yes, I know, it's not nice to brag...and it's likely to get worse as he approaches adolescence). He is friendly with kids of all ages and is a good and fun friend to his closest buddies. He is unfailingly polite to adults (even sometimes to his parents). I love him oodles and I think he's perfect and I just could go on and on.

And yet, there's one kid who treats him consistently like crap. She's mean. And we don't seem to be able to avoid her.

Here's the story, in short.

Shabbat morning kids' shul. Regulars include my son, Shmuley and Shmutzie. EVERY Shabbat.

Shmuley is the charming and funny but ever so slightly rebellious son of friends. He is a full year older than my son but they play together very well and enjoy each other's company. A nice Jewish boy. We like the parents. What more could I say?

Shmutzie is a girl 6 months older than my son. She was in the same nursery school class as Shmuley and they are inseparable when they are together at shul. They will be attending kindergarten together (not at my son's school), play together outside of shul frequently and their parents spend quite a bit of time together.

Shmutzie will not allow my son to play with Shmuley and with her when they are all together. There is a lot of "you aren't allowed to play" and "Shmuley doesn't want to play with you." There's even been some "we don't like you"s and some complete ignoring. She whines to her father when my son comes around to play during kiddush lunch or after shul, and makes herself positively obnoxious. We have tried to do afternoons in the park with the kids playing together, or rainy Shabbat afternoon playdates at our house so that my kiddo can have at least home court advantage. But it doesn't seem to work. It is clear that she is jealously guarding Shmuley's attention and doesn't want competition. I get it, but it is hurting my son.

My cutie now is afraid of her, doesn't want to be with them, and is feeling very sad and left out. He is not feeling happy about going to shul...I'm not so worried about this because tons of kids will be back to play with beginning after Labor Day, but still.

Worst to me is that none of the parents are willing to get involved. I engaged Shmuley's parents in conversation about it, enlisted their help in trying to remind the kids that "you can't say you can't play," and they were on board. For a week. Shmutzie's parents are clueless. Mom is never around and Dad is a big clown. No help there.

Please offer me some advice. Do I leave this situation, walk away and encourage my boy to make new friends? Do I continue to try? What would you do?


Foster Ima said...

This might be counter-intuitive, but what about inviting Shmutzie on her own for a playdate with your son? Maybe she needs to get to know him on his own before she is willing to "share" Shmuley with him.

Queen of Laundry said...

At this age, parents must be involved in their kids' social choices*. If Shmutzie's parents won't cooperate, there is no point "working hard" on the child but rather somehow pass the time until other kids (and social options for your son) appear.

* If you ask me, they should be at least somewhat involved in later ages too, but - let's talk again in another 7-10 years... :)

Maya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maya said...

Note about comments--

the comment above by Queen of Laundry was posted in my name, with apologies to the Queen.

Our blog has recently been attacked by a site that is advertising illegal content, so we've switched to moderated comments for now.
We fully expect to figure out why blogspace is not allowing me to approve the comments of others, and so they will appear in your own name.

But please do keep commenting

Moderating the site does NOT mean we eliminate comments that we disagree with. It only means that we don't post spam.

with apologies,


Queen of Laundry said...

Gee, thanks. For a day I thought that... oh, never mind.
I have no problem having you signed on my comments, Maya, but if they will be referring to your posts it could seem a bit awkward, don't you think?
:) :) :)

BTW, do you bloggers ever go back to old posts to check for new comments or are you informed by the system when these come in?

Maya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maya said...

Speaking as myself now:
I'd say put your son in different situations that allow him to make new and different friends. Cut your losses with Shmuley, who may or may not tire of a possessive friend. I'm guessing that your son (and my daughter, and everyone) will be exposed to plenty of mean girls from here on out, and now is a good time to learn that self esteem can't be tied to being accepted by any one particular person; especially a jealous person.

--Queen of Laundry points out that if I don't figure this moderating thing out soon, no one will be able to comment on my posts, because it will look rather awkward.

Also, you can subscribe to this post if you want, so you can be notified about new blog activity.

Queen of Laundry said...

Ho ho ho, what a BALAGAN! (balagan = modren Hebrew for anything like mess, chaos, serious entanglement... if you come to Israel you MUST know this word). I'm telling you, this would have never happened in the good old days of pen and paper! :)

Sorry, Gluckel, didn't mean to move away from your question. So while at it let my just add, that my experience with these ages taught me that friendships are of quite a flexible nature; children replace old friendships with new ones without making a big deal of it (if anything, it's the parents who put their emotions in). If I were you, I'd just keep away from that girl and not worry too much.

Queen of Laundry said...

Correction: Balagan is not official modern Hebrew but rather very-much-used slang, originating from either Persian or Russian (can't find an authoritative source on that right now).

Anonymous said...

Hi guys--this is Gluckel posting here (for some reason I keep coming up as anonymous?). I do go back and reread the posts, so thank you for your wisdom.

Last Shabbat, my dearest little boy woke up and climbed into bed with us. He said..."is it Shabbat? Because I don't want it to be Shabbat if I have to go to shul and play with Schmutzie."

I thought I was gonna cry. Really, I had to hold it in.

Luckily, my family is tougher than hers. And my son is tougher than she is. We will take the passive aggressive avoidance route and bottom line, I won't sacrifice my child's emotional wellbeing nor our family's love of shul and Shabbat. We may end up sacrificing the relationship with the other family (Shmuley's family), but if they choose her over us, that's just the way it will have to be.

Thanks all for listening and sharing...my appreciation to all.