|My "pack," welcoming the newest member in May|
I absolutely love the close relationship that my older three kids have with each other. Despite the fact that we have only been a combined family for a little over a year, they adore each other and mesh quite well. Heck, they even fight like full-blooded siblings.
I have recently found one characteristic about their closeness that bugs me, however. When I take two or more of them somewhere public -- like the park or the library -- they want nothing to do with other kids. It ranges from them simply showing disinterest to them actually being mean to other kids and telling them that they do not want to play with them. It is horrifying, really, to see your kids hurt the feelings of other little ones on a relatively regular basis.
Take yesterday -- Ferris was at Kindergarten, so I decided to take Emilia and London to the library. It was a stormy, windy, rainy day and the idea of a cozy library trip sounded ideal. I had the baby bjorned to the front of me, and the other girls held hands as we walked in. No one else was in the kids' section when we arrived, so they both started looking at books and playing with puzzles -- independent of each other.
Then came a little girl (almost 2 years old, so a full year younger+ than my older ones). She was adorable and friendly. She started to look over the shoulder of London as she put together a puzzle and immediately London picked it up and moved over by Emilia. Suddenly my two wanted to play together -- and they wanted nothing to do with the new little friend. I calmly told them to let her watch them play, but they just kept moving to a new area. The little girl, undeterred, followed them to each new spot. Finally Emilia turned to her and said (in her best Mean Girls voice) "Leave us alone! We don't want to play with you!!!"
Well, that was enough for me. I walked over and got down on my girls' level and told them sternly that they had better let the little girl play with them or we were going home. By this point, the little girl was interested in something else. She was there with her grandmother and when I cast the adult an apologetic look, she shrugged her shoulders. Grandma told me that the little girl just always "assumed" that other kids wanted to play with her. She said she had never been to daycare, so had not yet been "beaten down" by other kids. Great.... so my kids were the ones to initiate her to the world of nasty kid behavior.
They stayed a little bit longer then headed out. Mine went back to playing by themselves and we left a few minutes later when they started fighting with each other over using the kid computer. They were best friends when another kid was around but returned to quarreling siblings once the kid was gone.
On the ride home, I asked them how they would feel if another kid did not want to play with them. Emilia said it would hurt her feelings. I told her that she had hurt the other little girl's feelings (actually, the other little girl didn't seem to comprehend the meanness, but still....). She and London were quiet the rest of the short ride back.
This is just one example of my kids not wanting to socialize with others. Ferris acts the best when it comes to other kids -- and he has also had the most socialization outside of the home at this point. He is also a boy. I hate to be stereotypical here, but it really does seem like my girls have a much meaner streak than the boy. While I love the "pack" mentality that my kids display and their intense loyalty to each other, I'm struggling to find a way to keep them from acting rudely to others. I don't ever remember acting like that with my own brothers, but we were also not so close in age.
Any other parents have experience with this? Or remember it as a kid?
Anyone care to tell me that their own kids that once acted this way grew up to be compassionate, kind adults?
You can contact Katie by emailing her at email@example.com.
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