Monday, October 3, 2011

The Nightmare Playdate and the Awkward Neighbor Moment

One of the many great things about our new house is that there are children in the neighborhood that my youngest can play with - three little girls ages ranging from 9 - 5. ( Suddenly I hear strains of Dolly Parton "What a way to make a living, barely getting by...")At any rate, back to the story. The children all enjoy playing together but two of the three little girls always want to play here. In the three months we have lived here, they have not invited Emily to come and play one time. Not that this is really important, just a piece of relevant background information.
At any rate, the two girls, I will call them Lily and Lois, though those are not their names, come over at least once a week, usually on Friday, to play. During the first playdate they were so rough that Lily, who apparently is double jointed, knocked her elbow out of place and had to "snap" it back in. Lovely. When I took her home, feeling so guilty and worried that she may have to go to the hospital, her father informed me that this was a regular occurance that happened all the time. It would have been nice to know... The last time they came over to play, Lois swung from Emily's draperies and pulled the hardware right out of the wall. All the while, my daughter was telling her to stop, to no avail until I went into the room and saw what she was up to. After this event, I told Emily that I would prefer she keep the girls in the basement, which is fully finished space where we keep our tv, wii and other game equipment, when they come over to play since they play a little roughly and I didn't want anyone to get hurt, especially near a two story window.
The other little girl who lives in my neighborhood, I'll call her Phoebe, is delightful. She and my daughter play nicely together, without incident. Phoebe's great grandmother passed away this past week. Her mother was having the wake at her home and was worried about Phoebe. I told my neighbor that Phoebe was welcome to come over and play, if she was upset about the wake. So, later on that afternoon there is a knock at my door. It 's Phoeber and her dad, asking if Phoebe can play. I say of course, and the girls go about playing. I was in the kitchen when they asked me if they could go outside to play basketball and jump rope. I say certainly, since we live on a quiet cul-de-sac and the children know they can not leave the driveway. Here's where it gets weird.

After about twenty minutes of playing, the children come back inside and go downstairs to play on the Wii. I'm up to my eyeballs in cookie dough when the door bell rings. Emily and Phoebe get the door while I get cleaned up. When I get there, Lily and her father are at the door talking to Emily. Lily's father has a very angry and upset look on his face. I ask what is going on and the father asks if Lily can play. I say ok and he says "Are you sure?" to which I say yes and he informs me that he will pick her up in a hour. Fine. The girls all go down in the basement to play, since I don't want Lily near Emily's draperies or window.

An hour passes and Lily's mother comes to pick Liy up. It's raining, so I invite her inside while she waits for her daughter to put on her shoes and collect her things. She abruptly says "NO, I'm just here for Lily". Then she tells me that her husband said there was some sort of playdate mixup. Apparently, when Emily and Phoebe were out playing, Lily asked if she could come over and play. My daughter said 'maybe, you should ask your mom first.' When the girls came inside, they never mentioned this exchange to me. When Lily and her father showed up at the door, Emily said she didn't think she could play because she already had one friend over. What would have possessed her to say this, other than the past incidents with Lily, I don't know.

Both that day and this morning my daughter apologized for the confusion, mostly to no avail. She was brushed off, somewhat rudely. It has all left an awkward and uncomfortable space between myself and my neighbors that I am not really sure what to do about. Did I mention that the husband also watches me walk my dog? Slows down to watch me and has said things like, "I could give you something to do besides walk the dog..." I'm not sure what my relationship with my neighbors is, or even what I would like it to be, though cordial would be nice since I plan on living here for a long time. Any thoughts or suggestions? I'm really at a loss....