I'm in a situation I haven't experienced before. My ds is only 2, and we don't really having children coming over to hang out. The contact he has with other children (other than his cousins) is in the form of carefully arranged playdates. We have new neighbors moving in this week, and already I can tell that things are gonna be interesting. They have a 4-year-old boy who is generally a sweet little boy, but I can tell there are going to be some challenges for me in relating/dealing with him. I don't really know what's "normal" for 4-year-olds because it's been a long time since I worked with that age group. I suspect that most of what he's doing is normal, but I don't really know how to handle it as the neighbor and not the mom.
The first time we met them, he fell in love with a toy airplane that my ds had. When they left he had it in his hand and I politely asked for it back, and he totally melted down. His mother gave it back to me, but I looked out my window 5 minutes later and he was still in her arms sobbing over it. So, a few days later he came over to play and loved the airplane again. They are staying in a hotel till their house is done, and I know he doesn't have all his toys there, and I felt bad about the previous incident, so when he was getting ready to leave I told him and his mom that he could keep it over night and bring it back to me in the morning. I wasn't sure this was the right thing to do, and my gut instinct was right. When he came back the next day, not only had they forgotten to bring it, but he informed me that he had broken it (but they would glue it back together). It's a pretty inexpensive airplane, but it's also something that I can't just go out and buy because we bought it on vacation in Washington, DC and I live across the country. My ds loved this airplane and so did I. So lesson learned--I will no longer lend toys.
Then yesterday in church (they will be going to our church), my dh took my ds out to change his diaper, and the next thing I knew this little boy had snuck away from his parents' bench and was sitting next to me. When my dh and ds got back, things were OK for a few minutes, but then the quarreling began between him and my ds. He wanted to play with all of ds's "quiet" toys, and got upset when ds wanted to be involved. Ds on the other hand wasn't too thrilled about sharing either his toys or his daddy with another child. And since we were in the middle of the service, we had to try to resolve all this in whispers. Finally, the neighbor boy's mom came and took him back (after he yelled out loud at my ds), but he snuck back to our bench several more times before things were over. Then, after the service he told me that my ds needed to come back to their hotel with them and play. I explained that ds was going to go home and have a nap but they could play together later in the week. He was so crushed! He kept telling me how it would be OK, ds could take a nap at their hotel, etc. etc. I was kind yet firm about my decision. But he was very upset that I said "no".
I guess he's just a really sensitive little boy (although he has hit my ds and "ordered" him around a few times too. I like his mom a lot, and she has intervened in all these situations when she's been there. I just feel awkward being the "bad guy" with someone else's child. At the same time, I feel like I need to validate my own ds's feelings. If the neighbor boy hits him, even if the boy's mom is there and talks to her child about it, I feel like I need to acknowledge to my ds that he got hit and that's not OK, but it makes me feel like I am double-whammying the other boy, KWIM? I also feel awkward knowing that this boy is going to melt down every time I say something to him that he doesn't like, or make/enforce a decision that he doesn't like. I have a 4-year-old nephew who is not like this at all, so it's a new thing for me.
I have a feeling the neighbor boy is going to be wanting to come over and play all the time and I"m going to be the one disappointing him by sometimes saying no. Also, I really don't have a desire to become a babysitter in church, mainly because of the turmoil it causes for my own ds as we are trying to keep him reverent--and things go really smoothly when it's just us and him on the bench.
I feel like I am a kind, yet firm mama with my own child. Why is it so hard to be the same with someone else's child?