Friday, January 30, 2009

Bad Mama?

For close to a week now, I have been having knots in my stomach. I think I am internalizing everything right now. I could blame it on the womanly issue that one should not discuss in polite company (i.e. my dad will at some time read this post and might blush that his daughter has such issues...), or the winter blues - both, maybe.

This particular knotted stomach problem involved my oldest, Eli. I think I am quite honest and know not only my weak points but also my children's. I will be the first to admit that Eli is not perfect, I'll share a couple examples: *long pause* *crickets chirping* Oh! I have it, he is not an expert at wiping his bum, but this is mostly my fault and might be due to the fact that he does not have long arms? Who knows. In all honesty, Eli is a sensitive kid, he does his fair share of whining and complaining but he also a great little kid with lots of love for his family and friends.

We have long been an acquaintance of a particular family that has a boy Eli's age. We have different dynamics, like birth order, that might make it difficult for the two boys to click well. And all the rest may be my opinion (or fact, as I like to see it). Since the moment they have played, there has been a sort of competition and I am being honest when I say that it is one-sided. Eli doesn't get it, his mind does not work that way yet, if ever. And he comes home a standing a little less tall (and frankly, we can't spare inches people). Yes, he wants to win but it is more about the game than his own personal glory. I have seen countless times where this boy has purposely left Eli out, belittled him, been condescending to him and downright mean. Needless to say, we do not have many play dates. For the last few years, I have kind of steered Eli toward other friends, different extra-curricular activities and such but once again we find each other in the same proximity. Without getting too specific, this boy was so blatantly rude to Eli that I could not even stand it. Am I too vague?

Let me give a totally hypothetical situation. Say the two boys were on the same basketball team and I can honestly say, Eli is pretty good. He has good ball control, he passes a lot, he is getting the game. He does not however have flare. He does not watch the pro-ballers and copy their fancy moves, facial expressions and all that. This other boy is good, no doubt, really good. He WILL NOT pass to Eli. At all. The last straw, hypothetically, was when the boy was throwing it in after the other team scored and Eli was right there waiting for it while another little boy was heading back up the court. Eli was the only one the boy could have thrown it in to but he wouldn't. For 20, maybe 30 hypothetical seconds, he ignored Eli, kept calling to another kid and finally got his attention and passed it to him. It was so blatant. I just looked at his mom and her little smirk and then the knots started.

I don't think Eli should control the ball all the time, I do think however that this is quite indicative of how our relationship has been with this boy. And I wish I could say we don't have to deal with this situation often, but for many reasons, we do. Frankly, I don't have many options that I haven't already put into use. Then Eli came home one day, totally dejected. It had to do with this boy. I have had it. I am at a loss for what to do. I am trying hard to not try and control the situation and let Eli work things out on his own but, wow, it is getting to me.

So friends, what do you do when you see your kids being mistreated? Do you fight the 7 year old bully? What do you say to your child? Why is parently so freaking hard? What if my reaction to this situation totally changes the course of history? What if we get kicked off our street? To be serious, I need some mad coping skills, because this particular situation is not going to change, so give it to me straight people. I promise, I will not mope out here in blogland again, but I need the skills.


Molly said...

Whit---let me know if you get any great tips! I struggle with a very similar situation in our neighborhood and it breaks my heart. I've had my little guy come home from off the bus with his head down because of some LAME comment his "friends" have made to him. Grrrrr. Maybe we should get my sporty but sweet together with your sporty but sweet little guy. I'm serious!

Through the Looking Glass said...

Sit back, sister; let me bend your ear: Actually, why am I not just calling you on the phone and telling you this? We just talked a second ago (and sorry for the long wait - work call)

I'll fill in more deets later, but try having your 6 year-old come home sad because someone called her "fat". Yep, fat. We don't even say that word in our house. This is the same girl who has told her for months "I don't like you as much as so and so" and "I'm best friends with so and so, you aren't" yet still Lib plays with her because they share a mutual friend. I beg, I plead with her to play with other kids. Nope, it's like a moth to flame; she's even going to her b-day party tomorrow.
But here's the kicker: When I called the mom, in my MOST sympathetic, I know this is awkward but can we talk as moms voice, she said, "Don't ever call me about this again." I had called her once before at the beginning of the school year when said daughter was telling Libby she couldn't play with them and being rude. At the time, mother was understanding and apologetic, but apparently she's changed her tune.
I hung up on her. Husband called me later and went on to say that I need to let my daughter fight her own battles, that I shouldn't pick my kids' friends for them, and, wait for it... am I aware that this child is Chinese and adopted and has it harder than other kids?

WTF? (I never use this stupid acronym, but it fits perfectly)

He went on to tell me he knows exactly what kind of parent/person I am and that they want nothing more to do with me, but they'll let their child play with my child if their child wants to. Yep, apparently mine still wants to. It's the bane of my existence and I truly can't stand this child or her parents. Honest.

So my advice? If you decide to say something, bear in mind that there are parents out there who are nuts. Certifiable, And they'll make you even more afraid of the future for your kids and their relationships.

Angel said...

So was this what was putting you in a funk on Fri? I wish I had any advice to give you, but I don't. It sucks that we want so badly for our kids to know just how great they are and try so hard to give them self confidence and it can all be blown to peices by someone who is just young and stupid. E is so amazing and I'm sure he will make it though a better person. I just wish we as parents didn't have to sit back and watch.

Marilee said...

hey whit, found your blog thru amanda and sommer...

i have had the same problem with hadley. but what do you do when the problem is with a niece? i believe my niece has had it out for my daughter since she was born. hadley has such a tender sweet personality that she doesn't see how rude her cousin is being. i try and limit their time together, but it's family...

the best thing is probably just open conversations with E about the situtation (if he brings up the subject).

hadley came home one day from Kindergarten saying a girl at her table said she was stupid. i asked her what she did - she turned to another girl at the table and said "that wasn't nice".

we can only hope that they never treat someone else in the manner that they have been treated! i try and tell hadley to just be a nice friend.

hope you don't mind if i peek in on your blog from time to time!

samandbrodi said...

Hey Whit...I sneak a peak at your blog and I just read this post. We went thru/going thru something similar with our boy and it is maddening. Nothing worse than seeing your boy getting picked on by one or two others...yet getting along fine with everyone else.

I will send you an email on what we did though I am not sure if it will be of much help. Hope you are doing well...