This will be a long post.
I'm putting it in TAO because it is a more private area of MDC.
Last night my 9 1/2 year old dd was having a hard time sleeping. That is not unusual; she has had sleep problems since birth, pretty much. I was chalking it up to the constitutional the naturopath prescribed, since she said the first dose could actually make her issues worse initially, and she may need a second one (we have an appointment tomorrow to check in with her.) Anyway, I was trying to be calm yet firm with her, since that is usually what works in getting her to settle down. Then my dh went in the room with her so I could brush my teeth and relax a bit. I could tell he was getting frustrated (trust me, after 9 1/2 years of sleep issues, it is hard to stay patient
), so I came in to take over. I was planning on just giving her a kiss and telling her to do the relaxation exercises I showed her. When I came in she was seeming a bit off, kind of panicked. I decided I would talk to her for a bit longer (I had been in there for at least an hour already, reading to her and trying to soothe her). Anyhow, then the whole long awful story came out.
We live in a small apartment complex. Next door are two neighbor kids, one a 10 yo girl (call her X), the other an 8 yo boy (or 9? he just had a birthday last month, can't remember if he turned 8 or 9. Call him Y). These kids and my kids (I also have a 6yo ds--just turned 6 last week, so for most of this he has been 5) have played together for about a year and a half, running back and forth between apartments. At first it was great to have playmates around. But for the past 6-8 months things have worsened between the kids. My ds and X developed a very adversarial relationship. She (X) usually demands to be in charge and directing all the games. My ds is headstrong himself, so they butt heads all the time. My dd is more of a go-with-the-flow kind of girl. She gets annoyed but because she is so social she just goes along in order to keep playing. I had started limiting their play because it was too much for me to handle the frequent fights (I am an introvert and the apartment isn't that big, and they were usually over here). Y is a pretty meek kid, imo, and almost always does what his sister tells him to do, as far as I can tell.
A few months ago dd was crushed and crying and it came out that X had been telling her she is fat. Well, I could care less if my dd *was* (in fact, I am fat myself, and so what?), but she is not, she always gets a bit chubby and then shoots up like a weed (and I suspect that this time it is a preparation for puberty). X has an older sister who is 16 or so, so I assumed X had gotten this from listening to her sister, or from her mom who is also overweight (although I don't know, maybe 10 yo kids at school talk about this already?
X herself is super thin, like her dad, although I also suspect a lack of food in their house. That is a whole 'nother story that I don't want to get into right now, suffice to say that I have fed these kids a lot). I talked everything over with my dd and we decided together that she would have a week's vacation from playing with X (we also thought about things to say to this girl, and why she might have said that stuff, etc). After the week she was excited to play with her again and things went well for a few weeks, although they had been playing over at X's more since my ds' relationship with X had not improved. Then again things got crappy and it came out that X was still calling my dd fat and we went with the vacation option again. Then back to playing again when my dd told me she was ready.
When my dd would talk about X, she started saying how she could be so mean, but when I would suggest she not play with her, dd would insist that she could handle it and didn't want to stop being friends. I didn't want to forbid her playing with X and Y because IMO they don't have a lot of family support and I wanted to be a place they could come to that was safe. I also had this weird idea that my dd would learn how to get along with more mainstream people. That sounds so embarrassing and condescending now, but I'm admitting it to explain my stupidity
. And I am so mad at myself for ignoring my own dislike of X, that I told myself she was just a kid and I wasn't going to like all my kids' friends (in fact there are several that irritate me
I have chatted with their mom a few times and she seems ok, although she appears to shoulder the burden of their family life. She works almost all the time (although the kids can come with her to some of her jobs, so they do get to see her). The dad has always rubbed me the wrong way and seems like an ass, although when I would ask my kids about him they said he would stay in the bedroom and sleep most of the time (apparently he also works, but I don't know where, and he is home much more than the mom). He reminds me a lot of my dh's dad, who was a jerk. A lot of times X and Y would be supervised by the teenage girl or their early-20's cousin or sometimes the early 20's eldest brother (who does not live there). There were also times they were home alone (I always asked if there was a grownup home before my dd was allowed over there. I found out last night that sometimes they lied to me and swore dd to secrecy
Anyhow, that is the background. Last night my dd was sobbing and told me that she was too embarrassed to tell me but she really wanted to tell me. I was freaking out inside (radar pinging like crazy!!) but I managed to stay calm and soothe her and she told me that X had been playing games that she really didn't like and didn't want to play but if she didn't then X was really mean. Those were the scariest
words I have ever heard. It turns out that X had been playing rape games.
DD says they got it from watching Law and Order (which, what?? I thought they only watched cartoons like we do. How many freakin 8 and 10 yo's watch Law and Order??). They all kept their clothes on, but it was of course really scary for my dd. One other time X made her brother Y lick my dd's breast. Mamas, I was so UAV mad, so LIVID and enraged that I almost went next door and flipped out on them at midnight. But I had to be there for my dd and we talked and talked and for now she is ok (there will be much more talking, maybe some therapy, too, but dd did manage to go to sleep). She and I agreed that friends would never do something that would make the other person so scared, that they are no longer friends and they will not be playing together ever again.
I feel so incredibly horrible. How could I have missed all this? I cannot even believe this. I met my dh for lunch today to tell him about it, because he heard some of it from our bedroom but didn't want to come in and interrupt in case dd got shy (it was so difficult for her to tell me in the first place) and he leaves in the morning at 530-6am so we didn't see him. He is pissed and freaking out too. He just finished school so he was gone almost every day between working full time and night classes, but even so he has never liked X and Y, so we both feel quite terrible for not listening to our mutual frustration/dislike of these kids. I do feel lucky that dd told me before it progressed any farther.
Now the WWYD. Should I tell their mom? Should I explain why they can no longer play with my dd or just cut off all contact, not answer the door? I feel on one hand that I should definitely tell their mom in case she doesn't know, if there was some kind of event in X's life starting in that 6-8 month ago range when X started getting mean. (she might be chalking it up to puberty, like I was until last night
) Also, then I could be very firm about her kids not being able to play with mine. But, on the other hand I don't want her mom to just poo-poo it as natural exploration (I believe that there is sexual exploration at that age also, but pretend rape?? no fraking way), which I think there is a strong chance of her doing from what I know about her, and then telling her kids god knows what about why they can't play with dd and ds anymore. I believe X is fully capable of being a bully. We have a pool in our apartment complex that is right next to X's apartment that we swim in at least once a day in the summer, and I would hate to have that become a difficult place (I always go with my kids of course, but I am sure there would be confrontations). If I don't tell the mom, should I tell the kids they can't play until they (hopefully) stop coming around, or just stop answering the door and not take their calls? That feels passive aggressive but also safer than a confrontation. I am so confused and disheartened right now. Please help.
I want to show my dd the right way to deal with something like this, which I think means telling X's mom, but I also want to keep my family safe.