Reminder: The questions posed in this occasional column are written by actual people.
Dear Savvy Sister,
My 4 1/2-year-old son used to be the most well-liked kid in preschool. A little over a year ago, a boy began calling him names and being very aggressive. I addressed the issues with the parents – who were divorcing at the time. They used to be good friends of ours. Now the mother no longer speaks to me becasue I spoke about the issue to her ex.
Fast forward a year later and now the little boy had followers doing the same sort of stuff to my son. He actually adores my son – they used to be besties. He has other behavior problems as well. The child was given time outs and was even sent home once, but the behavior continued, resulting in my son not wanting to go to school. Again, the mother was approached by the preschool teacher. Good news: behaviors are gone. Bad news: no more playdates because the mother doesn’t speak to me. What is a parent to do in this case? The first time my son asked about a playdate, I broke the news to him. The second time, I made the teacher do it. What is the correct way of handling this?
The good news is that summer starts, like, tomorrow, and you can bid a not-so-fond sayonara to the lame-ass preschool teacher who let this whole entanglement get way out of hand. Children should not be allowed to call other children names at this age – at any age, really, of course, but when they’re four? Come on. Aggressive behavior? You’ve got to be kidding me. For future reference, I would have been in that teacher’s face day after day after day until the situation was rectified. Even the idea that your son was “the most well-liked kid in school” is wildly inappropriate. At that age, each child should feel like a rock star, and that’s part of the teacher’s responsibility.
Your child losing his bestie is another issue, but it’s not nearly as big as you’re making it out to be. If you treat it more casually, more que sera, sera-ish, he will, too. And he sees the other boy at school every day; that’s plenty enough time to keep the connection. Frankly, I’m not in favor of allowing him to go to the other child’s house; the boy can’t be trusted to treat your son appropriately, and the mother sounds unpredictable. What you need to do is this: start arranging playdates with other children, and keep your son busy enough that he doesn’t feel the void. When he asks specifically about his former bestie, keep it short. Say something like this: Honey, I know you like Max, and I like him, too, but you see him at school, and that’s enough for now, okay? Anyway, tomorrow we’re meeting your friend Filbert at the playground! But right this second, Mommy feels like baking cookies, just you and me. How about it?
If you really, really, really want to pursue a relationship with this problem child and his embittered mother, send her the following message: Listen, Darla, I’m so sorry we had this disagreement, and I know that this has been a tough year for you. I just want you to know that I’m thinking of you, and that we would love to have Max over for a playdate anytime. Maybe we can just meet in the park one day.
Please, for everyone’s sake, swallow your urge to obsess over this. If the kids are meant to be friends, they’ll see each other in elementary school. If they’re going to different elementary schools, the friendship would have faded pretty quickly anyway.
Peace out, peeps.
the Savvy Sister
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