I have a friend (J) who has similarly aged boys (mine are 3 and 6, hers are 2.5 and 6). We get along great, she is easy to be around when it's just the two of us (which is rare, so we hardly ever see each other). 2 years ago I stopped hanging around she and her boys when our youngest were babes because her older son hit my son every time we were together. It seemed he had it out for my son for some reason, and the last event of her son hitting mine in the back with a toy guitar (they were each 4 at the time) as he leaned over to examine something which left a bruise on his spine that lasted over a week and hurt his feelings so badly that he brought it up for over a year. That was the final straw and I felt I had failed him for letting it get to that point. I avoided her at first, and at her pressing told her that her son had hurt my son too many times and my son was afraid to be around hers (true) and asked to no longer see him (true). I said I would still like to see her, but without the kids (we are both SAHMs with rare time away so...). She became very very defensive, said she had never heard such a thing about her son. Ever. I knew that wasn't true because the first time she and her husband and kids came to our house for dinner they were reeling over someone telling them their son had been violent (a word she rejected and it did seem a strong word to describe a FOUR year old) and they needed to know about it. They were so angry and upset and just couldn't believe it. Said NO WAY. I had also asked someone I knew was a mutual friend what her experience was and our mutual friend said she no longer had HER children around the boy because of hitting issues. So, I knew she was in denial. I tried to remind her of the event she had told be about but she said that was something completely different, that my son hung out with girls too much and that his best guy friend was so feminine he was almost a girl. Nice. It took she and her husband months to talk to me or my husband again -- we had been talking weekly previously. When we did see each other again at a social function, she and her husband said it must have been a dynamic problem between our sons. I didn't see a need to get into any more, so I said "sure."
Which leads to the present. This friend (J) made a new friend with similarly aged children and I met this new friend, L, through her. We were at the water park a few weeks ago all together (me keeping my kids from hers but not being obvious or obnoxious about it -- she didn't even notice. Luckily both of my kids are more proficient in the water so were in a different zone most of the time, and my son STILL avoids hers on his own anyhow) and I saw J's younger son, who is now 2.75, slapping and jumping on L's son who is a very tiny 4 year old with some sensory issues in the corner of the pool on the top step. I was out in the middle of the pool with my boys and yelled to L because she was sitting with her daughters and talking to J and hadn't noticed. L's son got out of the water, sobbing, and tried to run away but J's son kept at him, trying to get close again. It was really hard to watch. J just sat and watched it, very casually. L asked her to get her son, and J told L she was being over dramatic, they're just kids. L was upset, her son was upset, it was sad. Later, L asked me if I had seen all of it and I said yes. She said she couldn't believe J had said that to her and I briefly told her my experience, expressing that J had become defensive and completely denied everything. L ended up writing J a letter about it which she described as kind (I didn't read it so I can't be certain but L is a very thoughtful person -- not the type to lie). I know she was very nervous about the reaction of J -- ANYWAY --- sorry for the ramble --- L told me J became defensive, called her an as--ole and that her kids were crybabies, etc. Then cut off all ties.
Part of me thinks I should just stay out of the entire thing, and part of me really wants to help a friend and her sons. I can't imagine denial is good, I worry about the boys becoming bullies as they grow up. Maybe I'm putting too much into it, but I hate to sit here and stay out of it when there might be something good I can do to help. I'm willing to risk our friendship to do it, because it seems if approaching her in a very kind way kills our friendship then we didn't have much of one to begin with. And this entire thing makes her sound awful, but she has a lot of very lovely things about her, just to be clear she isn't a jerk in general. Ideas? I'd appreciate any suggestions or been-there-done-that stories or even to hear from parents of hitters on how you managed to open up if you hadn't realized or were in denial.
Thanks for reading this entire monologue! GAH! :)
edited to add: L contacted me to tell me how the conversation went down because my name came up and she wanted to tell me she didn't bring it up, that J had deduced we must have been talking about her so she wanted me to know in case J brought it up to me.
Edited by Erinz - 7/20/12 at 2:05pm