Today I had an experience at a playdate that got me upset and unsure of what to do now. Sorry that this is going to be a bit of a long winded post, but I really don't know who to turn to with this question.
Here's a little background: I have a 5 yo DS & a 3 yo DD. I have a longtime friend who's got a 4 1/2 DS & a 6 yo DD in kindergarten. We've been having weekly playdates for about 4 years now since our boys were babies.
My friend's kids are very aggressive toward each other and have been since they were babies. My friend seems to deal with it by separating them so they don't play together rather than deal with the problem, but the way she chooses to parent is none of my business. My friend's DS has been aggressive toward my kids, and many times has been violent. My DS has been bitten, hit, kicked, shoved, etc by him. My DD has been a target for this kid at times, even when she was a baby.
I haven't really wanted to step in and discipline her DS when he's acting inappropriately toward my kids, because I don't feel it's my place - it's her responsibility. But clearly what she's doing to control the situation isn't working. Her DS ignores her and gets himself out of 'time-outs' etc whenever he feels like it. I have spoken to her DS directly only on very few occasions when he's done something which I think is going to truly harm my child, such as two handed shoving my one-year-old DD so she falls down hard face first. I usually end up explaining to my kids on the way home that the behaviour of their friend isn't acceptable and that they should never act like that to their friends. I can honestly say that both of my kids are very loving, non-violent kids - even toward each other.
Jump to today's incident: My friend's DS shoves my DS off of some playground equipment, hits him until my DS runs away screaming and crying. At one point it even looked like my friend's boy was about to bite my DS. Her DS runs back to the equipment and sits on it just as my friend gets there. Her DS proceeds to scream and wail and rock the equipment so hard that his mother can't get hold of him and he can't hear/doesn't listen to her threats of taking him home. I arrive at the equipment about 5 seconds later after checking that my DS is okay. I am so angry, and growing even more so because it looks like her DS is going to AGAIN get away with hurting my child. I reached down (friend is standing right next to me) put my hand on her DS's hand to stop him from rocking the equipment and to get his attention. I leaned in so I was at his eye level and told him in a firm (somewhat loud) voice that his behaviour was unacceptable and that it's not okay for him to hurt my kid. Then her DS stops screaming, stops violently shaking the equipment, face turns expressionless and he then proceeds to start crying. My friend then grabs him by the hand, says NOTHING to me, not one word, grabs her bag and loads her DS into the car and leaves the park.
This was 12 hours ago. I haven't heard a thing from her. We've been friends for 20 years or more, and to be quite honest, the only reason I've been going to playdates for all this time is because I like her as a friend so much.
I'm wondering if I stepped over the line in this situation. As I said, I'm not one to interfere with other people's kids, but I also don't think I should stand by and watch my kid get hit repeatedly.