I am at my wit's end with a neighborhood situation. Have time to read a book? We live on a street that has a lot of young families on it. Over the past 2-3 years the number of kids has increased expodentially and it's wonderful for our kids (ages in sig). They each have good friends of their same age and gender. Until the new family (described below) moved in, it was often our practice to let our kids (ages 4&7 at the time) play relatively unsupervised outside. Maybe I'd go in and cook something, fold a little laundy. Another mom would be outside. It was EASY and wonderful. Enter new family. They have 2 boys, ages 6&8. Similar to my kids' ages. At least one of them is adopted (I can tell by his race). I mention it as I don't know their background, or when the kids were adopted, but both have behavioral issues. Every single day that these kids spot any other kids on the street, they zip right down to play with them. They live on the other end of the street, and if my kids so much as get on a scooter and these kids are home, they are in our driveway in minutes. The older child is clearly learning delayed to some extent, but sweet. Both kids have their sweet sides, which to me makes this whole situation more difficult. They are not monsters! He's not athletic at all, which presents a problem because most of the kids on the street are, and want to play sports together. This angers and frustrates him. Both kids are prone to anger fits where they have, on occasion, hit their mother, thrown and kicked their bikes. They've yelled swear words in front of our kids that our just never use. Our kids don't like them. But it's a free world and we don't own the street! Their mother, a quiet woman who just never makes any small talk and rarely and ineffectively disciplines them, lost it with me yesterday. It came out as anger but I immediately saw the pain behind it. She asked me what was it going to take for the other kids to stop excluding her son (meaning the older one). Apparantly they'd chosen teams and left him out. (I had been inside a neighbor's house at the time and not seen what happened). Believe me, I know the kids don't like him and I have had talks with my son about not leaving him out, or saying mean things to him. I told her this, and said I believed the solution was a 2 fold plan. I said that it was a problem that they came down every single day because they were not allowing kids on the street who have pre-existing relationships any time to play by themselves and that's hard on them. She responded that if they see a gang of kids playing outside, they want to join in. I "get" that. I really do. I said the other component of the solution lay in maybe doing a one on one playdate between her child and some of the boys. I offered to do it with my son, because her son hasn't had a chance to get to know anyone when he's not "party crashing". She started crying and I was not sure how much further we were going to get with her this emotional. We wrapped things up. I feel I was really sympathetic given that she was criticizing me and my kids. To round back to something I mentioned at the beginning, I now have to be outside with my kids every minute that they play outside to mediate fights, make sure they are not saying anything mean, or getting chased by these kids etc. I hate it! We were going in a great, free range direction with outdoor play and this new family has ruined that.
When I got home, I was a little frustrated. Here I am offering to host a child my son really does not like, one on one, to mollify his mom? When what we'd really like is for her to take the lead and maybe protect her kids a bit by NOT allowing them to come every single day to play with a group of kids who are not thrilled to be around them. Believe me, I get that this is a teachable moment for my kids about getting along with everyone. But as it turns out, my son's best friends live on our street and right now the only way he can play with them without the new people coming along is to play inside. And our house is not big enough to accomodate that on a sunny day.
I hope I am not coming off as exclusionary. I know that they bought their house because when they visited from out of state, the kids saw all the neighborhood kids playing and wouldn't let their parents consider any other house (I think that's odd in and of itself, but whatever). So it's almost like they view playing with the neighborhood kids as an amenity of the street to which they are entitled. I have been inside with my kids and they will come play in the driveway and a parent will just stand in my driveway watching them. I do not like it.
Does anyone have ANY thoughts or experience???