Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bad Kids on the Block

We live in a fairly transient area. Other than one other family on our block, the turnover rate here is staggering. Most families that move in are young couples with no kids or they never seem to have kids the same age as mine. Well, I shouldn't say NEVER, there have been a few exceptions.

There was the single mom with a son Nick's age. The kid wasn't a "bad" kid in the typical sense (no criminal activity) but he was an only child who was over-indulged by his divorced parents and so he had a sense of entitlement to whatever he came in contact with. He annoyed me to no end. We've had a little bit more luck recently with kids for Michael to play with. He had a classmate who happened to live almost right behind us. She introduced him to some other kids to play with in the area. Then another single mom moved in across the street with two boys - both younger than Michael but they play together very well.

And then there is THAT family. (Insert doom and gloom music here). THAT family has been here for a while. They are a large family - LOTS and LOTS of grandchildren apparently. When the oldest grandchild first appeared on the scene, Nick had to be around 8. We were so excited for him to have a friend the same age that we encouraged the friendship. Well that all ended the day someone came over to tell us that they found the two boys trying to break in to cars! Now, you all know that I am fully aware of my child's faults, always have been. But this is my super-cautious child. He doesn't even leap down from the curb without double and triple checking with everyone that it is the right thing to do and he won't get hurt. Well, at least he used to back then. This other boy was left unattended for large amounts of time and the parents were never around so I was pretty sure that this whole thing was this other boy's idea. We were confronted by this boy's grandmother who seemed to believe otherwise. She was rather nasty about the whole thing and I never allowed Nick to play with this kid again.

Fast forward 8 years and two different grandchildren appear on the scene and Michael is drawn to them like bees to honey. I decided that there was a good chance that these kids were not hooligans like their cousin and let him play with them. On my first interaction with them, they came to my back door at least a half a dozen times to ask Michael to come out and play. Each time they were told no because we had friends visiting from out of town. Yet every ten minutes they were back. I was not amused. A week later, they were playing in the yard with Michael and I watched this boy stand on his two-seater swing and kick the backs off of it. I FLEW out the back door and demanded that they leave and told them that they were no longer allowed over. I mean, it wasn't like "Oops, the swing broke" but it was a deliberate action (He kept kicking until each piece was gone).

We don't have much and we don't need people coming over and destroying what we have! Michael wanted to play with these kids yesterday. The swing incident was about a month ago. Frank and I both told him no. He cried, he carried on, he yelled at us about how HE doesn't care that the swing set got broken. So I had to sit him down and explain to him about appropriate behavior. I asked:
- "When we go to someone's house, do we break their toys?"
- "No"
- "When we go to the store, do we knock racks over?"
- "No"
- "Why not?"
- "Because it's not right and we respect peoples stuff"
- "That's right"
Then I had to explain all of the ways that these kids do NOT respect peoples stuff. It was all very draining.

A little later he went out to play with his friend Joe. Within a little while, the 'bad' kids came out and tried to join them. Luckily Joe's mother shares my views and soon, she had Michael back by her house. I really hate keeping kids apart but sometimes it really is for the best. I don't want my child to think that destructive behavior is tolerated. I want him to see and learn that there are consequences for that kind of behavior. It's another one of those parenting moments that I wish we could have lived without because it really broke his heart - he just wanted to play.

Play like that gets expensive after a while and not just monetarily.

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