During these holidays we’ve entered a new phase in our life – playing with the neighbourhood children…and it’s doing my head in.
The children live right next door and have lived there for only a little while. One fateful afternoon the children met and chatted and I’ve been out of my comfort zone ever since. ‘Hang loose’ you say, ‘Just relax’. Easy for you to say.
We don’t have much to do with school kids at all. Some would say we’ve been living in a bubble. But boy was it a nice bubble, full of truly pleasant children…and those who weren’t we just didn’t make playdates with anymore.
My social little men are enjoying the daily playmates though but melting down at the end of the day, being sassy when asked to follow directions if their friends are over, and putting play with friends before family time. Just a few of the sour fruits of this new arrangement.
The neighbouring children themselves aren’t awful. They’re fairly ordinary kids. But ‘ordinary’ means that we’ve encountered mild swearing, overly rough play, sibling teasing, secret-keeping from adults and sibling, bossiness, lack of respect for others’ belongings, and general defying of authority. And that’s just one week of ‘fun’.
I know most people will read this and say “So what! They’re kids. You can’t expect them to be perfect.” I honestly don’t expect little angels. All kids do the wrong things at times. They all have the potential to be right naughty little things some days. And everyone of them have character flaws that need to be ironed out. My own have a nice little collection of those too. But in general the homeschooled children we choose to spend time with are not ‘ordinary’. Their parents are raising them to much higher standards, and while there are days when their halos are choking them, most of the time I would claim anyone of them for my own.
So how do I deal with these neighbourhood children now that our little sanctuary has been breached? Sigh. So far I’ve set up strict boundaries:
* All play will be outdoors in one of the two back or front yards. Never on the roads and never in the houses.
* We’re not available to play before 1pm and my boys have to check all plans with me before making any
* No unkind or rude behaviour
* No bad language, not even mild or taunting!!
But these have already been breached, and on more than one occasion. This morning they were tapping on my roller door, calling out for the boys and ringing my doorbell bright and early. Friends will know exactly what I thought of that!! We weren’t even out of bed!!
Yesterday’s play was to include a game of tag where the object of the game was to catch and ‘bash’ the tagged person. My boys said ‘No’ to this game so it was downgraded to ‘tackle’ instead. Of course there were tears and blood before long.
They’ve informed my boys that things they like to play and programs they like to watch are ‘for babies’. And they’ve told them that calling us “Mummy’ and “Daddy” is for babies too.
Oh yes and there’s been the anti-homeschool conversations too. At first there were in total disbelief. The neighbor’s kids questioned whether my boys had any friends. They told them it must be boring to stay home all of the time. They’ve quizzed them on their number facts and spelling and asked them to show them what they’ve done in Science. My boys have also been informed that their Dad said it’s not legal to not go to school.
Tell me again why socialisation is a good thing.
Bearing in mind that these kids know not to display these behaviours in direct view of an adult so it’s not as easy as sending them home when they break your rules. You have to catch them doing so first and I’m already doing a fair bit of helicopter parenting at present.
I’m just itching for school to start back. And would it be a truly awful thing to be hoping they get so much homework they have no time to play after school. I know I know. Love your neighbours.
But what about, “Bad company corrupts good character”?