We've recently ventured into new territory as Henry has developed a friendship with a little girl that lives two houses down on our block. She's going into 1st grade in the fall and is very sweet and quiet and really good about playing with Henry and Silas. It's been so fun to watch Henry go from really shy to asking why "my friend isn't here" when we haven't seen her in a few days.
It's also nice because she and Henry can play in the back yard while we keep a general eye on them but they don't have to be 100% supervised-- this proved really helpful during the fence-building weekends. Alas, the friend has a cousin who is the same age but a much bolder little girl. She's not aggressive but frankly, she drives me nuts. She's very dramatic, very loud, and winds up doing the talking for A, who's English isn't great. The cousin lives close enough that she's over about every 3rd time we see A.
Beyond the issue of not necessarily being able to pick your children's friends, we've been navigating a whole series of decisions that probably should be easier than i'm making them. Like, how do you respond when A shares her Popsicle with Henry (oh, that's sweet), then shares her Capri Sun (hmm, THAT's a lot of sugar for today) and then goes home and gets two more-- one for each other them (okay, if i wasn't building this fence i'd definitely put a stop to that!) Should i react by banning her treats even though she's being so generous and nice to share her snacks? I'm thinking the better solution is to have some "approved" snacks on hand so that Henry can share next time she's over.
But then there's this existential issue of what kind of neighborhood mom do i want to be? Do i want to be the mom who's house is ground central for all the kids-- the more the merrier, we're happy to have them? I can pretty much say for certain i don't want to me that mom with those on-going responsibilities. But, do i want to be the mom who never let's her kids have friends over or won't "share" any of her property with kids in an ad hoc way? Not sure i want to be on that side of the fence either. I'm hoping to stumble into more middle of the road solutions like i found at our BBQ on Sunday.
A and J were playing out front on Sunday while the boys were napping and i was frantically sweeping and prepping for our BBQ. I told them the boys were asleep and that i was busy getting ready for a party so i couldn't chat. They went away and about 5 seconds later, J came back and asked if they could come to the party if their mom said yes. I was taken aback, not sure how to respond, and just said we'd have to see. They went back to their house and i finished readying everything before our guests came.
Sure enough, as soon as we opened the side gate and started welcoming folks into the back-yard they were right out in front. After conferring with my parenting sounding boards i took the suggestion to tell them that they could come in and play with the other kids, but when the rest of the guests arrived they'd have to go back to their house because there would be too many people for me to watch without their parents there.
It actually seemed to work like a charm. The kids all played happily in the "dirt box," i.e. the raised bed that was not yet planted, and they were very well behaved about going home when i told them it was time.
So, we'll see what new parenting issues they continue to raise this summer and i'll do my best not to overthink my 3 year-old's social life.