Play Dates and Your Kid is an Uncontrollable Nuisance
We all have our own house rules. My rules are pretty basic. No jumping on furniture, no yelling, put food away after eating, and always flush the toilet. I don’t have a list written down. My rules are what I consider to be common courtesy sorts of rules, not weird or memorization worthy. I think my kids do a pretty good job of being civilized around here. But, as basic as I think my rules are, they must not be. Other kids, it seems, were born in barns. When they are here they run, scream, knock things over, mess up the kitchen, jump on my couches, and just generally behave like animals in the house. I try my best to be a polite and accommodating host, but I wonder about these kids. Why have their parents done such a horrendous job of raising them!? It’s borderline neglect, for God’s sake! But, alas, I think it’s not that at all; it’s something else. I have come to an inescapable conclusion. Either I have terrible luck because every kid I’ve invited over to my house is a horrible little monster or, and this is more likely, all kids are terrible, and they just disguise it in front of their own parents. This would explain why some friends have not invited my boys for return visits to their homes. There are, I’m sure, parents in my circle of friends who think I’m raising demon spawn.
Other People’s Rules Stink
Our kids (most kids) act like idiots when we aren’t watching. I can accept it even if I’m not too happy about the reality. However, what do you do when your kid, breaks a rule that he wouldn’t even think about in your own home? Getting in trouble for actual misbehavior is fine, but I’m talking about an action that your kid doesn’t know is wrong (because it’s not wrong in your house). This is where, as hosts to other people’s children, we have to have some sensitivity and do some logical thinking. My kids, for instance, play with toy guns and whack each other with swords all day long. They wrestle each other and sometimes they get hurt (a little) in the process. I think boys should express themselves and let out their boy sorts of aggressions in a healthy way. Play fighting, in my opinion, is healthy.
But, we have friends who don’t allow any sort of fighting or play guns or swords anywhere near their kids. Heck, the kids can’t even watch any, even cartoon, violence on TV. That’s their decision, and I’m fine with it. But, using a little bit of intelligence, the parents would know that their rules are a little outside the norm, and they would understand that my kids would not be accustomed to those rules. So, when my eldest came home one day upset that he had gotten in trouble for “shooting” his friend with the toy gun he had brought to the play date, I too became upset – because that’s just illogical. Language is another one of these point-of-view situations. What constitutes bad language? Well, there are some words we can all agree are bad. But, then there’s the gray area. Words like crap, turd, retard, butt, and so forth. When kids are at my house I don’t care what they say, generally speaking, as long as it is not intended to do harm. But, as a host, I still want to be aware and sensitive before jumping to a conclusion that may only be true for me and my kids.
There are Few Universal Truths
The Hippocratic Oath should be a rule of thumb for any personal interaction in your life. If you intend to do harm then that’s probably just what you’re doing. If you intend to do good – well, that’s probably what you’re doing too. Kids acting like morons is normal I think. As Parents, taking care of kids who aren’t our own is doubly taxing because we are managing children who are A.) crazy because they have a degree of freedom from their home environment and, B.) crazy, and we are trying hard to figure out what behavior we will accept from them considering they may live, understandably, with a different set of daily expectations. Over the course of years families learn to live with each other, and we know what to expect out of ourselves, spouses and kids. If every day was our first day together we’d never make it; we’d die of exhaustion. That’s why we have our rules (written or not), so we can live under the same roof without killing each other. Having kids over for play dates is great because kids need to play with other kids – but, for Christ’s sake, just for a day!