We’ve lived in our Albertville neighborhood for the past five years, and we love it here.
The neighbors are great. Not a bad apple in the barre ll. Our lot has plenty of mature trees. The streets are paved and in nice shape. The kids can ride their bikes in the road, provided they have helmets and a little bit of adult supervision (read: I’m not walking right next to them, but I’m watching from the yard or driveway).
What’s always been interesting is the boy/girl dynamic. There are boys in our neighborhood, but most of them are considerably older than my 5-year-old, who is starting to spread his wings and ask to go play on his own.
There is a 7-year-old boy nearby, and while those two haven’t played together much in the past, I can see they’re going to be running mates this spring/summer already, thanks to the warm weeks we’ve had already.
In the past, my kids have stayed with the “girls next door.” There’s six girls spread between the two homes next to hours.
That has worked … until late last summer, when the girls, who are five years older than they were when my little guy got here, decided it wasn’t cool to play with a boy anymore.
And I took that a bit personally, I have to admit it.
It’s strange for me to see the dynamic changing. They’re running (or riding) from him, instead of running to meet him when he comes outside.
Lost in the mix is my middle child, a 3-year-old girl. She’d LOVE for these girls to hang with her, but instead she’s caught in the new crossfire.
The other day, I intervened. I had to. The look on my middle child’s face practically twisted my arm.
As a result, two of the girls played with her, and she was happy as a clam.
But was I right?
My actual message to the girls was, “Don’t run. Tell them why you can’t play with them. They at least deserve that explanation. And the boy will understand. He’s not all that cool about playing with girls anymore, anyway.”
Which he’s not.
But once I told them that, the dynamic changed. And I had caused that.
At what point is it OK for kids to be mean? At least the way I perceived it? Should I just let this happen? Or should I have spoken up as a father concerned for his kids?
Times are changing. And it will be interesting to see how things shake out in the neighborhood this summer, that’s for sure.