Entering New Territory – Playing With the Neighbour’s Kids

06 Jul

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”?

I’m struggling.







Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Socialisation


16 responses to “Entering New Territory – Playing With the Neighbour’s Kids

  1. Mrs. McAwesome

    July 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I really feel for you. We were the super strict parents when our kids were at school and some of the stuff the kids would do and say made my hair stand on end. Your right when you say that we live in a bubble of nice mannered children. I keep hoping my older daughter will phase out her school friends (who I hate to say it are horrid little b****es who torment each other for sport) and embrace the lovely homeschooled friends she made, but it hasn’t happened yet. Good luck surviving the school holidays.

  2. Bernadette

    July 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    OH MY GOODNESS !!! we have been having that exact same problem!! We have had 2 neighbour kids (brothers) coming over, to ‘play’ My children met them in the local park and things were off to a good start, but they started coming over regularly and like ‘yours’, outside our time restrictions. but they started with the same thing, “you talk like a baby” because my kiddos don’t swear, and “you play baby games” because they weren’t allowed to roam the neighbourhood for hours on end. THEN it started big time “we not your friends anymore” every second day it seemed!! the older brother it seems was starting all this, and both of them apparently were fibbing about minor things. and these brothers are both younger than my boy!? I put my foot down, and said if it happened once more they would be banned from our house…..guess who is now banned from our house!! except the younger, somewhat more pleasant brother continues to hang around, in fact just this afternoon, he was sitting under our front window and knocking on the window because a different (much nicer so far) boy was here, that he knew from school. Another problem is they live in the house behind us and down one, so they now shout to my kids across the fence. I’ve told them not to answer, but they can’t help but answer……at the top of their lungs *sigh* I’m looking forward to moving in November….maybe we should go bush?????

    I’m dreading holidays starting here, next week :/

    Lol bright side for you, i bet your boys ‘aced’ the quiz they were given ;), wonder if they would have got the same sort of answers from the school kids?? maybe the school kids will move soon if they’re rental, unless they bought the property 😦

    • Bernadette

      July 6, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      oh and PS, i nearly sprayed my computer screen with tea, about the “some days their halos are choking them” part 😀 LOL literally!!

  3. April

    July 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Oh you poor thing…and right next door!!!
    Yesterday we met a group of homeschooling friends at the park and the kids had a terrific afternoon of play. Not one tear, tantrum or hurtful act. This afternoon I stupidly agreed to meet a family with children who attend school at the same park and it was dreadful! My son was ridiculed within minutes for not having the correct ‘brand’ of scooter and my daughter was in tears because she had been pushed over. After 20 minutes both children asked if we could go home. I spent the afternoon being questioned about what I was teaching my children, how restricted my life must be, socialisation…etc.
    Maintain the boundaries you’ve set and if necessary send the neighbours home! It’s sad that you have to wish away your holidays because of them… 😦

  4. Tracey

    July 6, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I’m kind of hoping my boys will decide for themselves that they don’t wish to play with them anymore. They’ve usually been very wise about their choice of friends. So maybe once the novelty has worn off….I’m holding onto that thought.

  5. Belinda

    July 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Hmmm, have so had these experiences. Times 10 as in our neighbourhood the children rove in packs. So when 1 comes over it soon swells to a tidal wave.

    I think it was a timely post after your post of your homeschooling direction. Its times like this that the pedal hits the metal so to speak. Have confidence that you are training the boys in the way they should go and they will one day follow that path for themselves! They will see the truth soon.

    • Tracey

      July 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      They travel in packs! I’m taking the welcome mat inside and drawing the blinds! Ahhh.

  6. Elsa

    July 7, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Oh yes, we understand too. We just had a family move in behind us (and we’re rural…not too many houses here!). At first I thought it might be great…3 kids, close the same ages, however, they started coming over all the time! As soon as that bus dropped them off, over they came. I think it’s amazing the differences between the behaviour of the average schooled kid compared the average hs’ed one. I keep shaking my head in disbelief.

  7. Tracey

    July 7, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Oh so moving to acreage won’t help. Phooey. There goes that idea. Hehehe.

    I too was hoping for children to move into the house next door. The moral of this story is to be careful what you ask for…or at least a lot more specific.

  8. Tracey

    July 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Today’s antics – ringing the doorbell and running! Admittedly I think the boy is shy around adults but if you are brave enough to ring the doorbell you are brave enough to stand and wait for a response. I’ve unplugged the doorbell. That should present him with a dilemma. I’d tell him the boys can’t come out and play today as we’re about to head out to do grocery shopping IF he remained at the door, even though he already KNOWS this. We made a day and time for their next play – Saturday…and it’s NOT Saturday last I checked!!

  9. Elsa

    July 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Oh dear. I’m sure their intentions are generally good. They’re probably bored, new the neighbourhood etc…, but it sure does cramp your daily routine doesn’t it. On the bright side…holidays are almost over up there aren’t they?

  10. Tracey

    July 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Oh I’m sure their intentions are good. They are bored. We’re almost at the end of our two week break. And I’d be happy for them to be over here in the afternoons if I could just refine them a little and keep them to a predetermined schedule. Their poor mother needs the break. The youngest fellow is quite the bossy little thing telling (read – yelling at) his mother how things will be. That won’t work with me however. It’s just going to take me some time to train them into sweet ‘almost like homeschooling’ kids. I’m optimistic. I’ve decided that this is my best course of action.

  11. Bernadette

    July 7, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    what a wonderful resolution to your predicament 😀 good on you for taking such a positive step.

    i bet they would love to sit in on some of your mammoth reading sessions!

  12. Tracey

    July 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I’m not sure they’re ready for ‘mammoth’ anything sessions yet. They flit from game to game never seeming to settle won any one thing for more than a few minutes. Makes me dizzy watching them.

  13. Jeanette

    February 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I know this incident was 2.5 years ago now, but I just came across your blog and wanted to encourage you in dealing with these boys (or any others you come along in the future!) 🙂 My husband, Steven, used to be one of those boys (well, sort of… I don’t think he personally was ever brazen enough to do many of the things you mentioned above, but I’m sure his sisters were). He grew up in a very dysfunctional non-Christian family. His stepfather moved the family around a lot, but when he was 10, the family ended up living down the street from a wonderful Christian family with another boy of the same age as Steve. They attended the same school together and slowly became best friends. This boy’s parents welcomed Steve into their home (although they made strict rules about their own son not going over to Steve’s house), loved him, shared the gospel with him, and invited him to church. I’m convinced that God used them to help shape Steve into the godly man I now love. Steve considers them his second parents and we are incredibly grateful for the role they play even now in our lives and our kids’ lives. Clearly, each situation is different and you need to take into account the behavior of the boys and how it’ll affect your own boys, but I also just wanted to say that yes, you have the opportunity to teach these boys manners, obedience, etc…, but more than that, God can use your family to share the gospel with these boys and to change their path. Be encouraged!

  14. Tracey

    February 18, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    That’s an encouraging testimony Jeanette. God can certainly work in any situation.

    Our story did not have such a happy ending. It became very difficult to monitor the situation as their time together was mostly unsupervised in the yard. The child’s behaviour became a lot worse. The straw for me was when he exposed himself. I sent him packing so fast that day! Prior to that he was here everyday and every waking moment that he was not at school. It was just too much to supervise and bring into an arrangement that was more under a watchful eye, although we certainly tried that too.

    Under different circumstances it may have worked out more positively for that child – we often have non-christian families come to visit and play and in these controlled situations things go so much more smoothly. But with this neighbourhood child, our children were being dragged into this child’s world and I wasn’t prepared to wait for the long run to see if we had a positive impact on this child’s life. After seeking wise consul, I learned that this is more often the case. It is much easier to drag a peer down than it is to drag a peer up.


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