A very challenging parenting moment this evening.
Junior wanted to play with a girl, let's call her A, in the apartment who is Junior's on-and-off playmate. She checked on the intercom and A (younger than Junior) said she was busy. Junior let it go but accidentally found out that A was in fact playing with B and C (also Junior's playmates) at her home.
Junior was almost in tears. I tried convincing her, "Perhaps A wasn't in a mood to play with you..." I said. "...maybe she wants to play with them instead." Junior wasn't convinced and insisted that I ask A about it.
Dilemma # 1.
Shouldn't have done that. But I did. I called over the intercom and asked A what she was doing. She said she was doing her homework. I asked her if B & C were with her and she said "No." On asking her again she hesitantly answered that she was actually playing with B and C. I gently told her she could have taken the easier way out by speaking the truth. "You must never tell lies because it hurts people." She responded with a meek 'okay' and I said 'bye' and hung up. Junior called A some names and said she was very angry. I hugged her and said, "It's okay, now that you have called her all bad names, you should be okay in two minutes." (I know I'm being judged for allowing Junior to call people names.)
In less than three seconds the intercom buzzed again. It was A announcing that Junior could "come and play with us if she wants to."
Dilemma # 2.
Shouldn't have done that. But I did. I said, "I will tell her that but I don't I want to send her. If she still wants to come, she will. But I think you should play with B & C today."
I turned to Junior, "Baby, let them play today. I don't think you should go today. Come, let's both play." Junior screamed that she rarely gets a chance to play with them as a group. I pulled her close and said "Baby, allow people to come to you and play but never go begging for people to play with you. You must love and respect yourself first." Junior was furious. With me? With A? I don't know. She stormed into the bedroom and slammed the door, only to come out in a minute asking me if I could play with her. We watched a few funny movies scenes on TV (which got her giggling), then went downstairs and enjoyed a good hour of physical play. Her and me. Me and her.
Backstory: This is not the first time that A has done this. There have been several instances when she has been at home but would get her folks have said she isn't at home or that she's sleeping. Her idea or her family's, I wouldn't know. I've never interfered. There have been many instances when she has come home to play with Junior and we've never turned her away even if we've had guests at home.
- I have seen children speaking lies about petty, insignificant things but at what point do they learn to 'avoid' people and resort to lies for doing that? What role does family play here?
- I know interfering in the matter of kids is not a great option but how else could I let A know that we actually know the truth?
- How do I teach Junior what self-respect is without teaching ego?
- Is it okay for me to allow my child to play with someone, be it another child, whose lies appear a step above just childish, innocent white-lies?
I've been in deep thought. Junior isn't a toddler anymore. She is a thinking person on the brink of her tweens. She doesn't need to know everything but she needs to be told something. Just a 30 minutes before this incident, Junior told me that the snack her grandma prepared needed improvement but grandma might feel sad if she told her so. I told her that it was okay to give her feedback. As long as she is gentle and appreciates the effort grandma has put in, her feedback will not hurt. She did just that and it worked so well.
In my book of parenting, relationship guidance is one of the most important lessons a parent can give a child (either subtly or openly). What about you?
Pic credits: https://www.etsy.com/listing/60655907/giclee-print-childrens-wall-art-mom