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How to avoid a playdate as nicely as possible?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

My son has a school classmate that he used to be very good friends with but during the course of the year, he complained of feeling increasingly frustrated with her as she would follow him everywhere and bug him and tease him. It got to the point where he expressed feeling very angry that she would not leave him alone. For example, (according to him) at recess as soon as he would go outside she would follow him and say things like "you have bird poop on your head" or "you are a boob" and he would go into the boys' bathroom where she would wait for him to emerge again. He says he would spend most of recess running around as she would chase him all the time. I told him to ignore her. I drafted an email to her mom basically asking her to ask her daughter to leave my son alone, but decided not to send it since the school year was almost over at that point and I crossed my fingers that the whole thing would die down over summer and perhaps they would be in different classes this fall. 

 

This week I got an email from the girl's mom, very friendly, asking to set up a playdate. Per the email the girl greatly misses playing with my son and has been asking and asking for a playdate. 

 

When I asked my son if he wanted to go he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and said "I don't know." My husband's opinion is that he should not have the playdate because he will just come home upset (my DH is the one who picks up and drops off my son and has witnessed the pestering and name calling and my son on the verge of tears of frustration, whereas my son was usually better when I would come home 2 hours later). Of course DH is not the one who has to reply to the email.

 

My question is what would be the best approach for avoiding the playdate?

 

I hate lying, but should I pretend that my son is busy and unavailable on any date she might suggest? The problem with this is that I hate lying and she offers many date options such that it would be hard to believe that a 7 year old is so busy with prior commitments.

 

Should I pretend I didn't get the email? The problem with this is the dishonesty and I would feel bad avoiding her and when I will inevitably see her in person I will have to lie to her face and pretend I didn't get the email. Ugh.

 

Or should I just be honest? I just hate hurting people's feelings. In my kitchen I dictated a pretend email reply in private to my DH that went something like "dear Mrs. So-and-So, I hope you have been having a nice summer vacation. Thank you for the invitation for DS to play with your daughter but DS will not be able to attend owing to the fact that your daughter bugs the heck out of him and he can't stand to be around her for more than a few moments. Please have your daughter desist from stalking DS in the future. Have a nice day and we'll see you in the fall."

 

Sorry this is so long. I really just am not sure what to do without basically telling a perfectly nice person that my kid doesn't like her kid even though her kid likes mine, a lot. It feels like telling her there is something wrong with her kid so how could she not be offended or take that the wrong way if I tell her the truth. 

 

We had a similar situation with another little girl in my son's extracurricular activity last year who was pretty obsessed with DS (followed him, grabbed him, hugged him all the time, and would announce that she was going to marry DS) but the difference there was that her mom and myself were both present during the extracurricular activity and would watch this occur and so I could step in to tell her that DS needed his personal space and body respected, and her mom could tell her to cool it too as she could see that my son was not comfortable being fawned upon by her daughter. The other difference is that this mom would never ever suggest a playdate because she knows how my son feels about her daughter so I haven't had to deal with this issue before.

post #2 of 23

Hrmm; awkward. Maybe you could be honest but minimalistic in your reply. Like "DS isn't very comfortable playing with your daughter"... which would give her the option to inquire further, of you or her daughter, or to tactfully drop the matter.

 

Meh, it's not a great solution, is it. Of course, while it doesn't seem fair to make your DS go on the playdate, maybe if the girl's mother saw their interactions she'd realise her daughter was teasing/bullying him, and that might prompt her to address the behavior. Could you maybe arrange to meet at a park or something, and stay with him during the playdate? That way you'd be able to gently point out any teasing that occurred, just in case the mother missed it; and your DS would know that you could always take him home if she got on his nerves too much. At any rate, it would give you an excuse to avoid future playdates: "DS was a bit upset after your DD's behavior last time, so we might just leave it for a few months".

post #3 of 23

How about just something like, "Well actually, DS has been telling me that the two of them haven't really been getting along lately. You know how kids can be at this age....etc" or something like that. Just kind of vague but nicely let her know he doesn't really want to. I would not place the blame on her child in the initial email. Just say that the TWO of them aren't getting along. If she persists, THEN you can say "Well, this is kind of awkward. I didn't really want to say anything because I do like you and your DD but DS says that she teases and chases him a lot and he gets frustrated with it. I know it's not a big deal, kids are kids and they all act silly sometimes, my son included. That's why I didn't say anything to you before. I was hoping that they would work it out and get past it on their own so they could continue their friendship but DS really doesn't seem to want to play right now and I don't want to lie to you about it."

post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Bratton View Post

How about just something like, "Well actually, DS has been telling me that the two of them haven't really been getting along lately. You know how kids can be at this age....etc" or something like that. Just kind of vague but nicely let her know he doesn't really want to. I would not place the blame on her child in the initial email. Just say that the TWO of them aren't getting along. If she persists, THEN you can say "Well, this is kind of awkward. I didn't really want to say anything because I do like you and your DD but DS says that she teases and chases him a lot and he gets frustrated with it. I know it's not a big deal, kids are kids and they all act silly sometimes, my son included. That's why I didn't say anything to you before. I was hoping that they would work it out and get past it on their own so they could continue their friendship but DS really doesn't seem to want to play right now and I don't want to lie to you about it."

 

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post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Bratton View Post

How about just something like, "Well actually, DS has been telling me that the two of them haven't really been getting along lately. You know how kids can be at this age....etc" or something like that. Just kind of vague but nicely let her know he doesn't really want to. I would not place the blame on her child in the initial email. Just say that the TWO of them aren't getting along. If she persists, THEN you can say "Well, this is kind of awkward. I didn't really want to say anything because I do like you and your DD but DS says that she teases and chases him a lot and he gets frustrated with it. I know it's not a big deal, kids are kids and they all act silly sometimes, my son included. That's why I didn't say anything to you before. I was hoping that they would work it out and get past it on their own so they could continue their friendship but DS really doesn't seem to want to play right now and I don't want to lie to you about it."



Perfect!

post #6 of 23

I've been on both the receiving end and the "guilty" one on this issue - the best response I found has been - "I'll let you know in a bit, I have to ask LO".

If you change your mind, you can say yes, otherwise just let it go. 

 

 

post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Bratton View Post

How about just something like, "Well actually, DS has been telling me that the two of them haven't really been getting along lately. You know how kids can be at this age....etc" or something like that. Just kind of vague but nicely let her know he doesn't really want to. I would not place the blame on her child in the initial email. Just say that the TWO of them aren't getting along. If she persists, THEN you can say "Well, this is kind of awkward. I didn't really want to say anything because I do like you and your DD but DS says that she teases and chases him a lot and he gets frustrated with it. I know it's not a big deal, kids are kids and they all act silly sometimes, my son included. That's why I didn't say anything to you before. I was hoping that they would work it out and get past it on their own so they could continue their friendship but DS really doesn't seem to want to play right now and I don't want to lie to you about it."



I don't know, I'd be pretty hurt by that response. I'd rather be blown off in a way that doesn't imply that my kid is obnoxious (even if one of them is :) ). If I was initiating the playdate I'd rather hear "I'm sorry, we're totally booked up, let's check back in the fall." or something along those lines...

post #8 of 23

Funny, I would be more hurt by that response because I would just figure that I was just being blown off completely (most people can squeeze in a play date if they really wanted to).  Hearing that the kids haven't been getting along so well...that just sounds like kids being kids and wouldn't offend me any.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaki View Post





I don't know, I'd be pretty hurt by that response. I'd rather be blown off in a way that doesn't imply that my kid is obnoxious (even if one of them is :) ). If I was initiating the playdate I'd rather hear "I'm sorry, we're totally booked up, let's check back in the fall." or something along those lines...



 

post #9 of 23

Hi,

 

Before responding I'd suggest thinking about what you want to get out of the communication:

--Is it simply to say no to this playdate?

--Is it to say not to all playdates with this person?

--It is to see if you and this other mother can together help your children interact in a more positive way?

--Is it to let the mother know that her daughter has been teasing your son?

--Is it to maintain a relationship/friendship with the mom, but not have the children interact?

--Is it to be sure no one's feelings are hurt?

--Is it to have a completely honest communication?

 

I think clarifying for yourself what your and your son's goals are might help and then the email might come naturally.

 

Good luck!

 

ETA: I specifically tried not to place judgment on potential goals you might have. For myself, depending on the situation, the relationship, etc., I think my answers to those questions would different, but I find thinking through them helps me sort out what feels right to me in a particular situation and how I can be best take care of myself and (when needed) advocate for my child.

post #10 of 23

I really like this response. I remember someone telling me once "that we should confront when we want to get closer."
  While this may not be your intent. It is honest, and I believe opens the door for future healthy interactions with each other.  While it may hurt a little, I think it is much better than just trying to put the person off.  People know when something is up; and it can be so much easier to deal with; when it is clear what the situation is.  I think it is easier to be with a person when you know where you stand; then with someone who is wishy washy; and you never know if they mean what they say.  And I say this being the person who is wishy washy; and I am trying and wanting to be more direct. This response also allows the mother to help her daughter with her social interactions.  I think the response below is actually respectful and kind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Bratton View Post

How about just something like, "Well actually, DS has been telling me that the two of them haven't really been getting along lately. You know how kids can be at this age....etc" or something like that. Just kind of vague but nicely let her know he doesn't really want to. I would not place the blame on her child in the initial email. Just say that the TWO of them aren't getting along. If she persists, THEN you can say "Well, this is kind of awkward. I didn't really want to say anything because I do like you and your DD but DS says that she teases and chases him a lot and he gets frustrated with it. I know it's not a big deal, kids are kids and they all act silly sometimes, my son included. That's why I didn't say anything to you before. I was hoping that they would work it out and get past it on their own so they could continue their friendship but DS really doesn't seem to want to play right now and I don't want to lie to you about it."



 

post #11 of 23

Hmm.. I wouldn't want to be lied to but I also wouldn't want to be you :P  I think she should know that her daughter calling people names is not the correct way to make friends. i think somehow she should be made aware of this and that your son is not provoking her, but how to say that.... I mean I would be hurt yes, but I also would want a chance to remedy the situation so my child could grow up just a little bit better/easier than wonder why she's hated and it starts to eat away at her. Not sure how to convey my thoughts at such a late hour.

post #12 of 23

Are the kids going to be in the same class and rubbing shoulders at recess next year?  Your ds used to like playing with her but somehow they got into a bad rut with how the interact.  If your ds  doesn't mind the idea of getting together, what about planning something that isn't a drop off so the parents are around to facilitate?  Get them out of that rut and back in better habits of how they interact.  You could meet at a playground or go to one of those kid play places if you have any near you.  Or maybe the girl could come to your house.  That way you can gently tell her if her teasing is bothering ds.  She probably is just trying to get him to play and when he doesn't want to for whatever reason, she starts teasing him.  You can give her better ideas of getting ds to play, if you are there.  Maybe the game she wants to play needs tweaking to appeal to ds and you can suggest a compromise.  You can say "Ds doesn't like playing house too much but he loves water guns.  Would you like to ask him if he wants to play that?"  Ideally, you'll get them back on track for playing with more positive interactions.  And you might be able to give ds some phrases he'll be able to use in future situations like saying he doesn't like that game instead of just saying no when the other kid asks if he wants to play.  Or saying he's going to play ball right now but will play with her afterward if recess isn't over.  Whatever the issue seems to be. 

 

 

post #13 of 23

I was thinking along the same lines as 4evermom.  They may just need some supervision and guidance to be able to play together.  Maybe plan an activity your son enjoys and invite the girl to join in.  That way they could learn how to get along, in case they are in the same class next year.

post #14 of 23
I would eitheir bow out by saying we were too busy, or I would agree but add something like, "They sometimes have trouble playing well together and will need a lot of supervision." It might be really good for her to witness how her dd treats him, if she does it while her mom is there. Although it sounds like she might like him and might not know how to get his attention in a positive way. Kids do funny things like that. I wouldn't write her off completely - I bet she figures out better ways to get his attention when she gets a little older.
post #15 of 23

Can you talk to your son a bit more about it, and see if he'd like to try again with this girl? I know they're young kids, and therefore they can be not only obnoxious and annoying sometimes but also too shy or immature to assert themselves. However, I see it as a learning moment for both kids. DS needs to learn to set boundaries for himself. (I know he's only 7, but they have to start sometime, right? My DS is only 3 (and therefore I have no idea how this would fly with a 7-year-old), but he is already learning that if someone isn't nice to him, he needs to find someone else to play with. That includes name-calling.) Can your DS tell her not to call him names, and when she does it again, would he feel free to say, "You're not being nice. I don't want to play with you anymore right now. I'm going home." Something that direct and immediate might get the message through to her. Maybe if you prep him ahead of time  and he goes in feeling prepared to address whatever issues he has with her, and also feeling safe in knowing you will come get him early if it's still not working out, he will be less frustrated and feel less trapped than he did at school, where there was no escaping her.

 

 

post #16 of 23

Since they were friends in the past, I would probably try to set up a supervised playdate where they can try to work out the problem, rather than continue to avoid her.   I would make sure he is being direct with her about not liking the behavior, if she repeats the teasing and chasing from the playground this year.  Maybe role-play what to say if she calls him names or teases him in other ways, and be there to reinforce the message that the behavior is not acceptable.  Ignoring her or running away from her probably won't change anything for the better.  On the other hand, if your son says he really doesn't want a playdate, I wouldn't force it, but I would encourage him to give it a try, under controlled circumstances, knowing you were there to intervene as needed, and to try to have a good playdate they can both enjoy.

 

post #17 of 23

If the kids will be in the same class or at the same recess next year, then I would definitely work on their relationship this summer.  The girl needs to learn that he doesn't like the teasing and it needs to stop.  I think the suggestions for a parental-involvement playdate at something like a park or playcenter or even the zoo would be the way to go.  That way if the teasing starts, both you and the other mom can intervene and direct her to more appropriate play.

post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the suggestions and advice. I am going to think about this some more and if DS is up to it might try the co-supervised playdate if it can be scheduled at a time when I am available. I can't foresee DH wanting to go hang out with this mom on his own. 

post #19 of 23

I would approach it at a different angle to what other have suggested. I would arrange a play date (with some supervision) but beforehand equip your son with some ways to deal with situation. Throughout his life your son is going to have to study or work with people that annoy him and you can use it as a learning opportunity for life.

 

You could start by teaching you son to you "I statements" 

 

"I don't like it when you you tease me"

"I don't like it when you follow me around"

 I don't like t when you chase me"

"I want to be left alone"

 

 

post #20 of 23

If my kid was annoying others to the point where they did not want to spend time with him then I would want to know.Ds/dd would NEED to know this,because they need to learn how to interact with others in a good way. They may have an idea that the things they are doing/saying are annoying,but they will take it more seriously if they find out that someone actually refuses to get together with them.Me, I would tell the other mom that they are not getting along  and why.Then it will be up to the mom/girl to work on this.

 

I see no need to make your son spend time with her to learn how to cope with someone he does not like.He has already done this daily at school.He deserves a break from the girl.

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