My kids have been having some conflict with the only other kids in the park. The other kids have been here about as long as we have and for the most part they have gotten along well, though they have had quite a few little disagreements. Recently though, things seem to have escalated. Both sides have been name-calling and generally not very nice to each other. The other kids are aged 7, 5 and 2. A couple of days ago, there was confusion over a toy that Summer was sure they had given her. When they tricked her to try and get it back, I spoke with them and asked them calmly about what had actually happened. They agreed that they had said Summer could have it. So I asked how they would feel if someone gave them something and then asked for it back. They said she could keep it and ran off home.
Today we were walking past their place on the way back from the playground. Their kids were outside and were glaring at and making faces at mine. I said "can we all just try and be nice?" Their mum (who used to be very friendly to me) came out and just blasted me. I was stunned and totally not expecting that. She was going on and I was trying to figure out just what her problem was. It seemed that she was blaming Summer for a whole lot of things including the name calling her children had picked up lately and said (regarding the toy issue) that she was there and Summer had snatched the toy and run off. That's not what her kids or Summer had told me. In easy earshot of her kids, she said several times that she was "sick of this shit" and about half an hour earlier, she had called out to AJ to "piss off". But her kids bad language is from Summer..hmm?
I felt very hurt by her verbal attack, which included "..if you had enough energy to watch your kids.."! Okaaay. I'm with my kids 24/7 and have been doing the single parent thing for 2 months. When the weather is nice, there are times when my kids want to go to the playground and I let them go without me so that I can catch up on some dishes or washing or general cleaning or office work. It's not like I'm lazing about watching tv. If I have caught up on everything, then I always go with them.
I held my own with her until she totally lost me and I realised there was no way she wanted to listen to me. Then I just said "I'm sorry you feel that way...I'll do what I can to keep my kids away from yours." But I was really upset. I hated that she said some hurtful things about Summer, and me. I wondered if I had stood up for us both enough. If she'd had a problem with us, I wish she'd have said something earlier. The kids and I went home and talked about it, but it just didn't seem to make sense.
Summer thought it right to return the toy, she thought it had negative energy around it now. She was scared to go alone so we all walked back to their place, Summer placed the toy on the table outside where the kids were sitting and we walked away, without saying a word. I told her later how courageous she was to do that.
I don't know what else to do. Nasty confrontation is not my style, but protecting my family certainly is. I see this experience as a lesson for all of us in dealing with conflict in a graceful, empowering way. Obviously not everyone is going to like us...their loss! My kids and I have been talking about this a lot and talking about our feelings and thinking about how else we may have handled things. We've also spoken about how we might react when we do see them again - if they are still choosing to be nasty, should we match that, or should we ignore them or should we try and be nice? I didn't ask the kids to make a decision about that, but suggested that they should do what they felt was right for them.
Difficult, but there has be a valuable lesson in all of this. I just don't get it. There's no need for all of the nastiness. We still have a couple of more weeks here. Should I try to repair the friendship? Or should I just let it go and be polite, but cool if I see them? A part of me wants to make it all 'right' and make sure our side is heard and understood and my daughter adequately defended. I think I'll go with the larger part of me that says to just focus on my kids and don't waste valuable time on the situation. I can focus on the way I want to feel, and I can send positive energy to the situation and mostly, I can reassure Summer that she is perfect the way she is.