Thursday, 14 May 2009

I Don't Want To

One aspect of parenting I have applied myself most to, or given special attention, is that of my son’s social integration, and acceptance.

I accept that an overbearing parent, pushing others into corners to accept their kids into their own social control, is not the right way to go, and I do not believe I have tried to do that. But I have certainly acknowledged its importance, and perhaps weighted its significance higher than other things.

With the lack of siblings, and none on the immediate horizon, I have always though it was important to involve other children in our lives, particularly Max’s, as much as possible.

Not only is it nice to have friends, and to start developing social skills from the earliest possible outset, but I believe by having peers around it helps an only-child discover that things do not always go their way, and that others’ claims, and needs, are just as valid as theirs.

Success in this area has been rewarding on so many levels. For me, the gift of time when he is off playing, eating with or just out with others. It is also nice to feel the acceptance when others trust me with the care of their offspring.

I dig acceptance.

Plus I get to muck around with a multiple of children rather than just one; it certainly makes trampolining more of a challenge.

For Junior he is developing relationships, it can make the mundane more interesting and he gets to experience new and different things.

Some he will like, some he won’t, but experience all the same.

We have had a fair percentage of the kids from nursery back at home, and I think in all cases that has been reciprocated.

We join others on days out, Max sometimes going off without me.

And whilst not being pushy, I am keen on doing such things. If a parent expresses an interest in getting our children together, I, more often than not, push that past the vague, and into the diary.

Trying to maintain balance, and not to exclude anyone else on any particular grounds of unsuitability. I certainly like to think I give everyone a chance, even if they been unruly with others, braking lamp shades or wills to live etc.

That is up until now.

Max has always seemed very sociable, happy to mix and play with anyone, a penchant for playing with other lads, but not to the total exclusion of the girlies. Needs must, and all that.

Because of this, whenever I have asked in the past if he wants to go to such-and-such’s, or provide entertainment for them, he has always replied in the affirmative, often before I have finished the question.

For that reason I have not been afraid to ask him in front of others, or others’ parents.

But these last couple of weeks one of his nursery chums has asked for his company on a couple of occasions. My son has been round to his before, and this lad to has been to our place on more than one occasion too.

However instead of initiating the normal jump-at-the-chance protocol, he has steadfastly refused to accept these kind requests.

When asked he has explained that he does not want to go, and the most detail I could get was that ‘he doesn’t play nice.’

Clarity unbound.

I must admit, that when they have been here they have not played brilliantly, spending quite a lot of time playing separately, which defeats the object.

But I am, dangerously assuming, that this will only get better if they spend more time together.

So I am still keen for them to play together, as is this other lad’s parents.

At the moment we would not actually have been physically able to make these meets happen in any case, but I fear the impending time when we can, and Junior turns his nose up at the opportunity in public.

I have been thinking of pre-empting and averting such a social disaster, by actually inviting this kid out, or to our residence.

The counsel of my parenting inner-sanctum has been sought, and seems to be a situation all too familiar to them, and one I just have to suck up, handling the truth as delicately as possible.

Their argument is that my son will only make things worse if he goes against his will, which would ultimately make everyone feel worse.

Genius, yet it does not make this any easier.

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Badass Geek said...

Ah, the dilemma's of parenthood.

Best to leave them to people who are in it, instead of the guy who is on the outside looking in.

Rebel Mother said...

Even at such a young age, kids know who they like. If your son does not like to play with this particular kid, maybe there is another one he could play with?

My eldest son was an only child for 12 years, and I did encourage him to have lots of friends -they hung around all the time - got on my nerves in the end!

Hope you sort it.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Hmmmmm. I have no idea what to say. Why do you and this child's parents want them to be friends? Are you friends? If so I do get that and I think it will inevitably happen at some point anyway so don't worry. I've learnt with my two that generally where possible it's better to let the kids sort this kind of thing out themselves. Maybe the other child's parents need to work on his social skills so that Max feels more comfortable with him??

Perfectly Happy Mum said...

It seems that something might have happened that you didn't witness and maybe something your little one doesn't want to discuss because he doesn't know how to explain it, not finding the correct words. Of course I am not talking of something major here, but what feel like a silly row to you, might mean a great deal to him. Maybe there 's been a couple of fights and he rather turn down the opportunity to go back to this boy's house rather than finding himself in an unpleasant situation?
You know he is young, but like Rebel Mother says, kids that age know who they like and who they don't.
What you can maybe do to get over this phase is organise a get together in a neutral place, like a park or somewhere else, and see what is happening between them. Why a neutral place? because it is less likely that the possessiveness over personal belongings comes in the way and therefore less likelyhood to end up fighting.
Also I suggest that you tell your son that it is you, the parents, who have organised to meetup for whichever reason you like and you are requesting that both kids come along. That he doesn't have to play with the other boy if he doesn't want to but that he will be there with his parent. Like this your relieve the pressure of them 2 getting along and playing together and you can see what is happening then.
This is just a thought but only you know what is right for your little boy. Good luck I am sure he will get other it. Don't worry too much either. It is not because this particular boy is not his best friend that he will not be a happy sociable bean!

SciFi Dad said...

Forcing him will only make things more difficult. Think IV: the tighter you grasp, the more slips through your fingers.

I would try to suggest alternatives, more preferable alternatives (such as maybe going to a park instead of one of your homes) to entice the two to play together.

I'd also have a chat with him about how everyone needs friends, and if this boy doesn't play nicely, then it would be nice of your son to help this other boy learn.

Not a soccer mom said...

We all have things that just press us the wrong way and maybe the two of them just dont have friend chemistry...
Give them time. see how they interact when they are together but not alone.
I know there are people who I just dont get along with.
I do however commend you on your concern with his social acceptance and acceptability.
It is important to stress compassion at a young age and stays with them a lifetime.

Nicole said...

My son is an only child and very few of my friends have small children. And they all live a good 10 hours west of here.

It's been important to me to take my son to the park everyday to play with other little kids and to make sure he was enrolled in a daycare with other children his age.

He is so much happier and excited everyday now.

The only downfall is that there is one little girl that has taught him to hit and not share when he was so good before.
He even pinched someone today.
I was incredibly embarrassed.
My only hope, like yours, is that the more they play together (as a group, not one on one) the better it will get.

Here's hoping!

smittenbybritain said...

I would side with your parenting inner-sanctum on this one. It's best not to force the issue. It's good (and totally natural) for Max to begin discerning good friends from bad, nice people from not so nice people. As a single mum (at one time) of an only child I completely relate to the need for you to have Daddy time and your concern that your child develop relationships with others his age. Amazing...he's only four(?) and already you have to loosen the reigns a bit. I wish I could tell you it gets easier but you know I would be lying.

Zoeyjane said...

I wouldn't force it. Speaking from experience, my daughter wasn't getting along with a little girl, who unfortunately is the daughter of one of my best friends. Her daughter's a bit...yell-y, like, in faces, and occasionally hits and kicks and bites. Pretty rad for a kid a year older than mine. Point is, I kept trying it out, even though she wasn't especially excited to hang out with the violent one. And eventually, one day, she just said she didn't want to play with her (at the public playgroup), no drama, no fuss, just didn't play with her anymore.

You know, even at these young ages, they can develop opinions based on real facts and feelings. Trust him, I say.

Canadian Bald Guy said...


I'll be paying close attention to see how this turns out. It's a situation, I think, that happens a LOT with kids...and with mine 2 1/2, I'm sure this is probably an eventuality.

Hopefully it's only a short-term situation on your end.

English Mum said...

Yeh, I've had similar stuff with my #2 son (must find him a better name). When we moved to Ireland my #1 son bounded off and made tons of friends, but #2 found it very difficult. I'd try to encourage him but he'd hang back in the car until the very last minute, and never invite anyone back. When I asked him about it he'd just say 'I don't need any more friends, I have mine in England'. I was really worried, but slowly he's met people he's comfortable with. He's never going to be a big socialiser, but now he's 11 I've just learned not to push it, but if he talks about someone I gently offer a playdate or trip to the cinema or whatever.

I like the fact your little guy is choosing his friends already. A small person with integrity, methinks.

Oh, and BTW your muffin challenge is up!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I definitely think if Max doesn't want to play with this pal then you should let it go. My son was like that with some kids, he would suddenly say he didn't want to play with them anymore. It was usually the result of something happening at school. The playmate pushed a friend of my sons so he didn't want to play with them anymore.
Sometimes kids just find they no longer like their old friend. Kids are fickle. Maybe he will tell you why he doesn't like this boy anymore and it will make more sense.
It may be uncomfortable with the other parent but trying to delicately be honest may help to actually get to the bottom of the problem. Who knows next week they may be pals again!

Linda said...

I remember when this sort of thing started to rear its head in our family, one week one or either of my daughters is best friends with someone, the next they aren't.

We've found that being laid back about it helps. I fall over myself (and sometimes bounce back up again) to be friendly with other mums and in the main we get on great, so when it started that some people's daughters were better friends with some kids than others, some were invited to play, some were invited to parties etc, where others weren't, I had to take the attitude to let it all happen and what would be would be.

I think you should just let it be that Max and the other boy don't want to play together at the moment, they may feel differently in a little while.

Surprised and Excited Mum said...

I can very much relate to the 'no siblings' thing.

I think you know what to do, and are doing it.

As you said yourself, pushy doesn't work.

Writer Dad said...

My Max knows exactly who he likes and who he doesn't. We can try to sway him in one direction or the other, but people are people. Some click, some don't. You can encourage him, but be happy that your son is confident in his own sense of natural selection.

rosiescribble said...

I wouldn't force it but let it evolve naturally. I guess you can't force them to play togethet. Maybe at some point Max can explain why, or they make 'make-up' and everything will be fine again. IJ makes and breaks friends every day, sometimes her best friend changes during the course of a day. You know what kids are like!

Part Mummy Part Me said...

It's tricky, navigating the often turbulent waters of friendship. I don't think it gets any easier as an adult either. Maybe after a cooling off period they'll be good friends again?

UDH Boy said...

I'll join the masses here and say in my opinion there's no upside in "forcing" them to play together. Max is evidently a well balanced and sociable lad so there must be something on his trouble radar for him to be so sure that he doesn't want to play with this boy.
Whatever "it" turns out to be, should you ever find out, it may seem insignificant to us, but it's relevant to Max right now and the more you try to push them to play together the more he'll feel you're ignoring what is important to him.
The idea of a subtle or "accidental" meeting at a park playground has already come up and is a good one, if you really do still want to try and get them together or witness them at play outside of their own homes....

Single Parent Dad said...

Badass Geek - Quality dodge.

Rebel Mother - Oh, he has plenty of kids he does willfully go and play with. It is just a shame the other boy doesn't seem very popular at the minute.

Jo Beaufoix - Sort of, but it really is for me to avoid the awkward moment. And they do need to.

Perfectly Happy Mum - To be fair, it is the other parents that should be making the effort. Thanks for your words.

SciFi Dad - Quality referencage.

Not a soccer mom - Compassion is a good thing.

Nicole - Thanks for sharing.

Smitten - I agree.

Zoeyjane - Trust him is right.

CBG - Thank you.

English Mum - I hope so (And I've been shopping)

Blogging Mama Andrea - I am going to let it go, just have to suck up the discomfort.

Linda - They may do, they may not, I agree let's go horizontal on it.

Surprised and Excited Mum - Thank you.

Writer Dad - I will be, thanks for that.

Rosiescribble - Indeed.

Part Mummy Part Me - Maybe.

UDH Boy - Yeah, this boy should really make more appearances at the park after nursery.

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