Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brat in the Back Yard

It's a beautiful Fall day and what are we doing?  Well, we're doing stuff in the house with the windows wide open.  I'd rather be outside, but there's stuff to do.  And the girls?  Well, they are also playing inside, but for a different reason. 

We have a neighbor girl who comes over often.  She lives behind us, so she's like an instant playmate.  As soon as the girls are outside, she shows up.

This is both good and bad.  It's good because I like the idea of the girls playing outside with friends.  It's bad because she's a five-year-old "frenemy."  You probably know the term.  It's a person who is like a friend, but not really a friend -- friend + enemy.

In my mind, I just think of her as the neighborhood brat.  She yells and screams a lot.  She threatens the girls saying things like, "If you don't do XX, then you're not my friend."  She pouts until she gets her way.  She's just a brat.

I dread going into my beautiful, garden-filled backyard because I know she'll show up.  Her mother always says, "Oh, she gets so excited when she hears the girls' voices."  (In fairness, her mom does invite the girls to come to her house to play.  This seems to lessen the bratty behavior, but I'm not there.  I only hear reports from the girls.) 

It's not just me who dreads having her around.  The other kids in the neighborhood actively avoid her too.  They are older, so it's easier for them to send her away.  What am I going to say?  I cannot tell her we're playing a game she's too young to play.  She's the same age as our girls. 

Nearly every time she is over, we talk about what she did wrong and how the girls should handle it next time. I finally taught the brunette twin to say, "If I'm not your friend, you should go home.  Only my friends play in my yard" after hearing the "you're not my friend if you don't..." threat enough. 

I realize she's not really my problem, she's her parents problem.  Yet, when she comes over, she becomes my problem -- if only for a little while.  I speak to her mom about some of the issues while we're waiting for the bus stop, but her mom is due to give birth any time now.  It's been a long, difficult pregnancy, so I don't want to add to her stress.  She glows when she talks about how much her daughter adores our girls.

So, I need to figure out a way to deal with the neighborhood brat until she either outgrows it or makes more friends.  I refuse to avoid my backyard any longer because of a five-year-old brat.


Jacque said...

I tell you what...we had 3 count them 3 living across the street from us, and I was never so happy when they moved =) I know it's a long shot...but just maybe...

cindy w said...

Oy. I don't know how to handle it, short of butting in and acting as her mom & correcting her behavior when she's on your property. Of course, that also contradicts the idea of giving your girls the autonomy to resolve conflicts on their own. So yeah. I have no clue.

Ooh, how about talk to the mom about some (fictitious) religious cult that your family has recently joined? I'll bet if you tried to recruit her, she'd start keeping her kid away from yours in a jiffy!

Anonymous said...

When you just want it to be you and your daughters, here is what I would do (And I have dealt with a very similar situation before) First, allow her to play until the bad behavior surfaces. Then, when she acts like a brat, smile and say "Thanks for coming over, I think it is time for you to go home now" Repeat this phrase until she leaves. Or, if needed, walk her home and tell the mom how she was behaving (don't worry about the mom, she will hear it from someone eventually.

Or, if you really don't want her there at all for an activity, tell her, "Thanks for coming over, but we are having family time right now. We'll call your mom and let you know when it is a better time for you to come over" Again, walk her home and repeat this phrase to mom if needed. Good luck!!