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Come out and Play?

September 30, 2010 - Jennifer Brookens
A couple of weeks ago, a little blonde girl just a grade ahead of my daughter showed up on our doorstep and asked "Can Kaycie come out to play?"

I was excited by the idea of my daughter making a new friend. Because of our busy lives, we haven't really bonded with our neighbors. I knew there were other kids in the area just because of who turned up at the bus stop down the street. This first playdate with just the two of them was fine. But it didn't take long for this new connection to turn to chaos.

It went from one blonde girl to two blonde girls a few days later. The second girl is even older: third grade is what I was told, but acts like she's 11 or 12. I was already seeing a shade of something that was setting off a red flag. This girl never talked or introduced herself, which I don't think was from shyness, as she gave off that "too cool for the room" vibe preteens are infamous for. Once my daughter was out of the house, they'd scatter off someplace where they couldn't be seen or heard. I didn't think I'd have to worry about that until fifth or sixth grade, when the girl talk turns from toys and dolls to boys and bras. I'd ask my daughter about what they did later, and she would say it was nothing. And I wasn't sure if she was holding back or not. Red flag warning remains in effect.

Last week, we had to set some ground rules when a third girl (Pushy Girl) joined the pack. This girl was in the same grade as my daughter, but she was prepared to move in. She invited herself to dinner, even telling us what to make, and would say, "I want..." instead of "Could I have..." Plus the pack was now running inside/outside, upstairs/downstairs every five minutes. Cats got loose and the girls attempting to catch them made them hide under cars and prickly bushes. Pushy Girl tried to carry my son downstairs because he was "butting in." (Ironically, they were trying to kick him out of his own room. Much like they were pushing us around in our own house.)

The final straw was as I made dinner, the two "blondtourage" girls as I started to think of them came downstairs, avoided eye contact with me, as they threw something in the garbage. I heard whispering, then a "crinkle" behind me. I turned, and sure enough, they were helping themselves to the bottled water I use to pack for lunches. "Can I help you with something?" I said, though it was obvious they were busted. They just looked blank and the finally the younger one said, "We just wanted a drink of water." "Well, thanks for asking first," I said. (OK, sarcasm was not the best approach, but I was fed up.) The older one looked at me, as if to say, "We WEREN'T asking. DUH!"

A few minutes later, the girls were shooed out the front door. I said "See you later," and Pushy Girl said, "We're not going anywhere." "Yes you are, it's our dinnertime," I said, quickly shutting and locking the door behind me. The (stolen) water bottles were found upstairs later that night, a total of three sips out of each one.

The blondtourage has only come over only once more since then. At first I thought it was just the first girl, but after my daughter was out, out came the older girl from hiding alongside of the house. That day, I had to go across the street to get her to come home. The rules were set: the girls were no longer allowed in the house. And they had to play where I could see them.

Yesterday, the blondtourage girls were out, but they pretended not to see me on the front porch. My daughter hasn't shown an interest in playing with them as much either. Considering the red flags going off for this Mama Bear, that may very well be a good thing.


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