Monday, March 12, 2007

Playdates

Here is the skinny:

  • Birdie, age five
  • LaLa, age three
  • Pearl, age one
Birdie and LaLa are great sisters. Yeah, they fight... but they have an amazing bond and love for each other. Now that the level of health in the household of Chaos is improving, we are starting to look at the "friends" issue again. Particularly troubling for me: Playdates.

My new friend Sarah K. wrote a post that reminds me that I am confused. When the ages of your children are so close, they will sometimes have friends crossover. Girls who are Birdie's age that LaLa considers her friends as well. For instance, this year is the "odd" year birthdays for both Birdie and LaLa... Odd birthdays are the years that we have a "friends party." LaLa insisted on inviting Sunshine as one of her three guests. You know... three years old she gets three guests, five years old gets five guests and so on. Sunshine was invited to Birdies party, but she was also one of LaLa's three guests for her party. Sunshine is four, but she is actually closer to Birdie's age, and they are in the same class in Primary.

Here is the thing. Often these girls who play so well together here in Chaos, they don't consider LaLa to be a friend back. Or they don't think about it, or it's up to their mom... but the upshot is
that LaLa is usually not invited to go with Birdie when the playdate is at their house.

I have mentioned this to several moms of Birdies friends in the past, but they still do not invite LaLa. Am I the one who is lost? Am I trying to shield LaLa from a natural bummer that comes with being younger?

The other side to this is that when Birdie is invited but LaLa is not, the sobs and tears from LaLa are genuine and heart rending. Poor Birdie is such a squish, and she will often end up crying and hugging LaLa back saying things like "I will miss you TOO LaLa! why can't LaLa go!??" And I am the heartless ogre that gets to pry them apart and send one along on her way.

I also do want to give the girls the opportunity to be and grow into themselves, and maybe this is a natural thing that should happen....but it is really heartbreaking. I have tried the route of having LaLa have a playdate with a friend closer to her own age, but this can be problematic because a number of the girls are not as developed when it comes to actually playing with a friend. For instance, they want to play with the toys... but not really with LaLa. I think it's just a developmental thing... LaLa is wired to be social, so she has picked up on social stuff a little earlier.

Should I insist that playdates take both kids when I know that they really do all play well together? Should I just let the older one go by herself? I am torn, because Pearl is up and coming and soon she'll be in the mix so it's only going to get more confusing. Should I have a policy, or just take everything case by case?

I am sooo confused!

11 comments:

Blogarita said...

I'm sorry I don't really have any advice for you, other than to say I think it is a bit rude for the other parents not to invite both of your girls.

Sparky doesn't have many playdates (at least not with the kids of MY friends), but I do have a friend up the road whose two girls are a year older than Sparky and a year younger. Sparky sometimes plays better with one, the next time with the other.

I wouldn't dream of asking just one of them over to play.

I don't know what you should do. Maybe just ask the other parent why both can't go play with her daughter since they all seem to get along so well.

Robbie said...

I've had parents just ask me "can (sibling) come too?" It's pretty casual, no big deal. If you treat it as no big deal, they "should, probably, hopefully?" feel comfortable saying yes or no. Sometimes we're uncomfortable asking for things that really matter to us.

sarah k. said...

The funny part is that all 3 friends of my boys always invite both, then Zeeb mostly plays by himself the whole time. And Calvin is protective of him whenever we go anywhere EXCEPT those friends' houses. And our house, of course.

I nearly cried when I read "My new friend Sarah K." I've been feeling sorry for myself a lot lately. Thanks for that. Which reminds me, I found you from DYM's pigs-feet. Are you going to tell the story? Mine are still waiting to be discovered. Oh, the suspense!

Lynanne said...

My boys are 18 months apart and used to be a grade apart in school so this happens frequently at our home.

I've always felt guilty self-inviting my second child over. I guess I would agree with Robbie's solution if it's someone you know well. If you've mentioned your dilemma to the person before and they still only invite one child, I probably wouldn't insist that they take both girls. Maybe they have reasons for only inviting one. They might feel Lala is too young (even if she's mature for her age) or maybe 3 kids are overwhelming, both in level of noise/activity and for games that are best for two people.

We usually just invite a second friend over to our house for the sibling left behind. Or we find some special activity or craft to keep him from feeling left out.

We've found that the boys having their own friends has helped them keep their bond as brothers while still being independent at times.

elizasmom said...

Aww. Poor Lala!
I have no advice, since I have only the one, but I third Robbie's advice. It seems very reasonable, given Lala's distress.
Also: the whole odd year/friend birthday party thing is a great idea. We did a bg friends and family to-do for Eliza on her first, but I really don't want to get into an escalating extravaganza situation.

Shelli said...

I know this one. However, in my case the older one was 6 years older and had no cousins her own age so when the younger one went to the cousins it would result in extremely immature behavior such as kicking, screaming, tantruming, etc. I know it isn't really the same thing, but we just suffered through the older one's antics all the while explaining it to her.

Does Lala ever go on a playdate and leave Birdie behind? That might help to be on the other end of it so you can point it out to her the next time. ie; "Remember when you went to a friend's house and Birdie had to stay home with me and Pearl? Now it is Birdie's turn to go to a friend's house and you can stay home and help me with Pearl." I don't know. It really is all just a crap shoot. Sometimes you win and sometimes you fall flat on your a$$.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

on the one hand, I think parents who invite you for a playdate should consider the fact that you don't just have 1 kiddo - it's kind of inconvenient to just take 1 to a playdate. It does seem a touch rude.

I agree that it's important for them each to develop their individual social circles; I also think it's good for kids to just figure it out with out too much adult intervention. As in, if LaLa has picked up the social thing early (probably because she has older sister) let her figure out how to find her way with friends who aren't wired like her.

If Birdie wants to know why LaLa can't come, she could ask her friend. How come you have to be the heavy?

Keep in mind I don't know what I'm talking about, since both of mine are the same age.

I also think that you could establish a policy...just be aware that if you're like me, you'll probably establish a new policy tomorrow.

Mom said...

Ohhh the guilt!!!

I'm so sorry, bon. As one of the heartless Moms in question, I will try to do better. I need to learn to word things differently with Sunshine.

The thing is, when Sunshine wants friends over, she want ALL her friends over. As you know, I've been sick a lot this year. A LOT. All winter I've been working off seriously depeleted energy levels, and I just haven't been able to realistically see myself dealing with a whole herd of little girls and living to tell the tale--or at least make dinner afterward, and cope with the bedtime ritual.

Of course, your girls play so well together, and with Sunshine, that it's really not that big a deal. There's no "third wheel" odd man out. But some of the other short female types in the neighborhood are a little...let's say less easygoing. When some of them are over here I find myself constantly needing to intervene, explain, assist in negotiations, calm someone, suggest activities, etc. More than one of those at a time would do me in.

So when Sunshine starts listing off all the friends she wants to have over (for a tea party--which she wants to do every day, but which I've promised to host in the "springtime" which has become defined as when the daffodils bloom, btw, so expect invites) I usually tell her she can choose ONE friend to invite. That's all I'm up to. She frequently chooses Birdie, which thrills me because they play so dang well together, and I don't have to worry about what they're up to. In those cases I often want to say, well heck let's invite Lala too...but I've just made a big deal about how she can have only ONE friend. If I give in and say, ok, well two then, she'll pick up right away on the fact that I've "given an inch" and will immediately begin negotiating for the proverbial "mile". But I know she'd love to have both of your girls over. I will consider on how best to rephrase...you can choose friends from ONE family maybe? Hmmm....how to draw the line without excluding....

bon said...

ACKK! Retreat, RETREAT!!!

Mom, I wasn't talking about you! I had hoped by using Sunshine as an "example of a friend that the DO share easily" that you would realize this but...

WOOP! WOOP! WOOP!

Not YOUUUUUU!

Mama D said...

It seems you have a lot of good advice and since I don't speak from experience I'm staying out of this one.

I do think it's just one of those things though. My favorite suggestion is the one about LaLa going on her own playdate alone. Then it evens things up a bit...

sari said...

I agree if it's someone you know well - ask if sometimes LaLa can go too. Or, Lynane's suggestion of inviting a friend over to your house during the playdate.

It is hard when they're younger. We've had many children over that just want to play with my son's toys and not actually with my son! :-)