As I sank into my usual chair after returning home this afternoon's outing, I was tempted to swear off play dates, indefinitely...
Sometimes I'm just a little too defeatist. Sometimes, I'm honestly just frustrated. And right now, I'm feeling a little lost.
I thought we'd been making strides at home- Abby has laid off on the physicality with her brother, quite a bit. It's still happening, but not to the degree and frequency that it once did. And all the while, I was counting my blessings that at least she was only behaving this way with her brother.
She has, in the past, gotten a little too rough with her playmates, but it was almost always a case of a hug gone wrong, or an affection-filled lunge that contained a bit too much energy and resulted in someone tumbling to the floor. But now, when she's rough, it's a little less innocent, and a little more mean.
I think it's all stemming from this new-found sense of ownership that she's exploring. It's been easy to dance around it at home, because she seems inherently to understand that all toys in the playroom are shared, and takes no offense at Michael using any of them (though the same cannot be said for certain things that she considers hers, and absolutely does not want him ever touching). That is, until she decides that what he has is exactly what she wants at that moment, and she simply takes it. And Michael, being much smaller, does not fight back. He often cries, and when he does, or when I happen to notice the interaction play out, I get involved, and remind Abby that she is not to take toys from Michael while he is playing with them.
But it's like every other lesson I ever try to teach her. She hears, but doesn't listen, and all I can do is hope that with enough repetition, it will someday start to actually have some kind of effect.
In contrast, at the play dates, her playmates do fight back, and tussles often ensue. A little physicality usually occurs from both parties, but I really worry every time Abby is involved in a spat, because she's so much bigger and stronger than her peers.
What jarred me the most, though, was seeing Abby utilize her size advantage to avoid a fight at all, by rushing at her playmate, pushing them aside and grasping with such force that they had no chance to resist her. She did it at least twice today, and I was filled with dismay.
I tried giving her a time-out, though I suspect that it was rather futile, since I don't really have a good system for it at home yet, let alone someone else's house. It did seem to discourage her somewhat, because I saw only one push after that, and it was halfhearted compared to the incidents before.
When she awoke from her nap this afternoon, the first words out of her mouth were, "Don't push K*!" I know she's hearing me, and the fact that she chose to repeat the lesson tells me that she at least found it significant. I just wish that I could find some way to get it all to sink in.
So, guess who's climbing into bed tonight (later than I should, as usual) feeling like a Mommy Failure Extroardinaire? Anyone want to have a glass of wine for me? I'm partial to Barefoot Moscato...