I’m facing a dilemma, a play date dilemma. It involves a friend of Helen, my daughter, someone she knows from a weekend activity club she sometimes attends.
I know this child reasonably well. She’s always polite, a great character and we have never had any problems on play dates or other social occasions that she’s been invited to when she’s come on her own.
My daughter asked if she could have a small group of friends round to our house to play during the summer break. I say small, she wanted about eight people. I agreed to half that number because eight is perilously close to hosting a full-on party and that’s just too many people.
This child was among those she wanted to invite. Fine, no problems. Or so I thought.
Then the stories started coming out: “She doesn’t get along with such and such…..she says I can’t play this game / that game…..she won’t play with X.”
It seems there’s history between this kid and all the other kids Helen wanted to invite. It’s exactly the kind of problem I expected to face as my kids get older, but now I’m facing it, I’m genuinely quite troubled, mostly because of the circumstances.
As with all such dilemmas, there’s a bit of backstory. I know this child is experiencing some turbulence in her home life, issues that are completely beyond her control and that no child should have to experience. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a child’s behavior affected because of problems at home and it certainly won’t be the last (although I wish it were).
I don’t want to exclude this kid because of what’s happening at home. I also don’t want to invite someone on a play date who may be disruptive and create problems for the other kids coming along.
I have to think about myself here as well. Mrs Adams would almost certainly be at work so I’d be managing this little jamboree on my own. I hope this doesn’t sound selfish, but I simply don’t need the pressure.
Thankfully, I have only ever had the one play date go awry and that was some years ago. On that occasion, a kid had a complete meltdown because she didn’t get her way over something. She was very rude to my daughter and threw a book across her bedroom.
That was difficult enough to deal with. I don’t want to invite four kids along if there’s potential for one of them to be disruptive and create issues among the others. It makes it stressful for me and potentially ruins the occasion for everyone.
There’s another aspect to this. If the stories filtering back to me are accurate and true, this child has to learn and accept such behaviour isn’t acceptable, no matter what is going on at home. Harsh as it sounds, maybe she has to miss the odd social gathering so she can appreciate poor behavior has consequences?
I think I know how I’m going to play this. She’s not going to be invited to the little gathering, but she will get invited to a play date with my daughter shortly afterwards.
Ultimately, I think this is the best of a bad situation. I really, really don’t want to leave this kid out because of what’s happening in her home life. I have no doubt this is a stage she is going through, one that will pass. I don’t, however, want to run the risk of something going wrong at this little gathering.
The question I have for you mums and dads is: what would you do? I can’t decide if I’m handling this totally wrong. Maybe I should have more faith that the kids will police this themselves? Then again, maybe there is no right or wrong answer.