Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Crazy 4-Year-Old Thinks She Owns The Place, But The Parents Are Cool

I’m not one to complain about other people’s kids much…. well, to be honest that’s a lie – maybe once in awhile.

The neighbors on my cul-de-sac are really nice people; the wife and I seriously couldn’t have been luckier (except for that one house, with the teenager and his guitar problem...)

We do stuff with them on occasion like wine paired potlucks, block parties with grilled oysters and martini’s, tapas and sangria, pho and some type of asian moonshine (ain’t no hot dogs and Bud light around these parts! Except maybe for the kids…)
Living in L.A. where you can live in a house for 30 years and not even once speak to the people next door, we struck gold.

Then there’s the 4-year-old next door. Now there’s a reason to close the garage immediately after pulling in with the car running, and a reason to lock the front door.

Just today when I got home and got out I hear a soft, but bold voice:

“Where’s Gillian?”
(Me looking up to the sky "God, Jesus,... Oprah...?" Then looking down - the little girl from next door with a very serious look on her face...)

Me: Hi Paige, she’s inside eating dinner and then she has to go to bed….
(She just walks inside the house from the garage…)

Great. How am I going to get rid of her this time?
Now my daughter just turned 2 last month -- is that even old enough to have kids knocking on the door asking “can (blah-blah) come out to play?” Or did I miss that chapter in my parenting manual?

For about 5-10 minutes I hear laughing and feet stomping upstairs from my daughters room (well, it can’t be all that bad, today…)
And then crying,...from mine. Everything was pulled out of every imaginable drawer, closet, new toys (for kids over 3 we never opened that were once hidden and boxed..)

“What’s the matter?”

Daughter: Paige won’t SHARE!....BAD PAIGE!!!

Me: Play nice you two, OK?

Paige: She’s not doing what I’m telling her to do….

Me: That’s because she’s 2 years-old, she doesn’t understand.

Paige: Well that’s why she needs to listen to me!


Me: I think I hear your Dad calling you…

(please take the bait..."use the force...")

I walked her back to her house. And then 30 minutes later my daughter starts telling me she wants to play with Paige again.

O.k. fellow parents, help…!
How do you deal with pushy kids like this? The parents are cool, but they always just casually mention after their kid walks into my house “just walk her back over when the kids are done playing.”
I just can’t respond with “No, your daughter opens every imaginable drawer and closet in my house, makes my daughter cry, and I think she’s tracking dog poop under her feet into my house”
“Oh and by the way, are we still making sangria for the Labor day party...?”


Bananas said...

ooh that's harsh. I've dealt with some nasty little chillun in my day and my solution is to come down on them like a ton of bricks. You're the only parent there, and it's your rules or go home. It's the only answer... especially given the age difference. With one of CJ's friends I always start the playdate by saying, "This is my house and we have a few rules to discuss before you start playing." works like a charm.

Whit said...

I can't imagine letting my 4-year-old out of sight like that.

I wish I could help you, but I'd probably just make it worse.

Dan said...

I have a similar problem. This 4 year old kid's baby sister has just died, and as a result he's been spending a lot of time at his grandparents who live next door to us.

The problem is that the poor boy is obviously troubled, the death of a sibling and dealing with your parents grief is some dificult stuff to deal with when you are 4. However i don't want him taking his problems out on my daughter.

He's mean to her, locks her in her wendy house, plays with her stuff and ignores her, all that sort of stuff. And while I want to help him as much as I can, I also want to protect my daughter as she can get really upset by his actions.

Coming down on him like a ton of bricks doesn't seem appropriate to me however.

Perhaps we are just going to have to move.

painted maypole said...

"it's a small wonder...." ;)

Your picture has me singing...

Anyways... yes, I agree with the house rules thing. The other rule can be that you have to be in the room if they are playing. This does put a time stress on you, though, but you can help supervise and steer the playing to appropriate ways. Then, if things start to go better, you can start ducking out for a bit.

Also, when you tell nosy neighbor child that your daughter is eating, add the words "so she can't play right now" Don't expect a 4 year old to draw that conclusion by herself. And if she gets all the toys out, ask her to put them away. And tell her that the closets are offlimits, or whatever.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Ok this is interesting. What's more interesting is that many people do share the same problem. Now I honestly think there is a market for "good kid" magic portion :)
Will send some to you after brewing it, so you can try it on Paige :)

Ben & Bennie said...

Tell her that Paige is dead. then when she happens to actually see Paige in the 'hood that she's now a ghost and should run home as quickly as possible.

Geez...something's wrong with me.

Just burn down Paige's house when no one's home. That's what we do down here in the South.

Hey, what's wrong with beer & peanut butter crackers for an appetizer?

Jackie said...

I can totally relate to this... and I agree with the other parents' advice (except for maybe the burning down her house, that seems a little harsh. Besides, you'd lose her cool parents that way ;-p)
When the neighbor kids come over here I just make it perfectly clear that there are rules here and when you come to this home they follow this home's rules.

creative-type dad said...

The Real Mother Hen --- Wow! of course I'd try that brew out on her.

Make sure it comes in sugar flavored fruit roll ups, she always has those stashed in her pockets.

Ben & Bennie -- I'm feeling pretty guilty about laughing about now...

Jackie -- I was about to do it too, but almost forgot that the parents do make really good food and drinks...

painted maypole -- EXCELLENT advice!!

Dan -- Man, I don't even know what to say. I can't imagine what that kid is going through and it's obvious that he's acting out...
That's tough.

Bananas -- yeah, seems like I'm going to have to set some start time rules and maybe put a time line in there too

Kate said...

OMG, I just did a whole post the other day on the queen of mean who lives up the street from us and how she treats my son. She's bossy and manipulative and I don't know how to deal with it other than to discourage my son from playing with her now. Which has seemed to work itself out since the NEW neighbors just moved in up the street with a 7 year old daughter who she bosses around now.

beta mum said...

Be clear, lay down house rules and stick to them (one of my son's friends is allowed to swear at home but I tell him it's not allowed in my house).
Tell her to take her shoes off when she comes into the house - that's a rule I'm glad to have brainwashed my kids into right from the start. If only their father would stick to it.
As Nancy used to say - "Just say no"

kellyo75 said...

I have dealt with a child like that. So, you know what we did? We put a lock on my daughter's drawer. Now, they don't play in her room at all. "Sorry, honey, her room is closed for tonight!"

kellyo75 said...

OH, is that the little brat from Small Wonder?

mama speak said...

I agree with the "set the ground rules" and "manage the playdate" advice. Time suck for you, but it's your house and your kid's only 2 and she's 4, they need supervision.

Another idea: set a weekly playdate. Maybe having a set time each week will make her (and her parents) back off a little.

My 4YO doesn't wonder over to anyone's house on her own, much less go outside on her own. I can't imagine her doing this. If the kids want to play I always talk to the parents and ok it first. I'll either offer for it to be at my house or let them know I can't really watch them right now...they'll either offer up or say it's not good for them either,and hopefully keep their kid home. Also, maybe the playdate can take place in front or backyard (if you're out front other kids might be compelled to join and)maybe her folks will take the hint to share in the "management" aspect of the play time.

Jenifer said...

It's gotta be the name... Paige=pushy. I know, I have one.

Anyways, who in the hell lets a 4 year old go over to someone else's house, uninvited, and ALONE anyways?!

I say talk to the parents... let them know there is a time and a place for playdates, but that daughter is only 2 and disruptions in her schedule are not handled well. Sounds good right?

Em said...

Give that kid some of the martini's and sangria you are sharing with the parents. It will either mellow her out or put her to sleep!

Occidental Girl said...

Oooh! I get to tell you my opinion! (Like I need to be asked.)

I agree with the commenter who said that little Paige needs to be apprised of the rules at your house.

She's just a kid, so how is she to know? Tell her. Her parents shouldn't have a problem with you doing that. It's your house, you can have rules. Plus, you can just say, "Sorry, it's the rules!" If there's a complaint, which sounds like it's not your fault if someone doesn't like something. It's an excellent way to divert energies away from a power struggle when the kids get old enough to engage in power struggles. Like now. It's also a way to take away the stress of having to do something you don't want to do. You can say "No," and everybody knows why you're saying no.

Your an adult, you're in charge. I totally get the potential awkwardness with your neighbors who are your friends. But there is a way to handle it with tact. Set up the rules, let Paige know what they, and enforce them politely. Don't give in, or they'll sense a weakness and then you're screwed.

Good luck with whatever you do! Thanks for letting me tell you what to do. :)

SusieJ said...

We had that problem once. ... I dealt with it by hiding. We hid inside the house. And, I kept the boys busy making cookies with me. They forgot all about the whinny brats.

creative-type dad said...

Occidental Girl -- "Thanks for letting me tell you what to do" Thanks Paige! (just kidding!)

Jenifer -- I know, 4 is young to let a kid go over to the neighbors house. But this little girl is what we all call "free-range" kid and very bossy. Even the gardner tried to ignore her or fakes that he only knows Spanish to ignore her.

SusieJ -- the cookie smell would attract her. I'm sure she would jump over the wall and peek through all the windows searching for the source of the smell...

kellyo75 -- Yes! It's Harriet Brindle, Jamie's so-called "best-friend" before Willis moved in the 'hood.

beta mum -- what kind of parents let their kid swear?!?

Kate -- I read your post and I feel bad for your son. I hope he finds kids his own age when he starts school and then he'll learn all about girls infected with cooties.
I'm sure that will ease his mind...

Diana said...

funny, how my new friend's son is my version of Paige, and I can't stand him. I'm going to have to take your commentor's advice into consideration...

Oh, The Joys said...

I have no answers. That kid would make me batty.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Ugh, sorry, no answers for you. Maybe mounted heads of Barney and Elmo outside your door with police tape around them?

Lisa said...

I'm sure you've read the countless posts I've made on the evil spawn that enhabit my neighborhood. Just. Say. No!

kittenpie said...

We have a neighbour kid too who is a smidge pushy and rough and I don't really like her, but whaddyagonnado? I step in when it's getting too much. A couple of weeks ago she had Pumpkinpie's special little purple glass pebble (don't ask, she loves it), and claimed she didn't know where it was. As i made an obvious point of looking for it after I asked her if she'd seen it, her dad asked if she had it. I just said, "Well, she said she didn't, but you know your kid better than I do." It's a tough line, really. You don't want to start alienating neighbours, but it was easier when pumpkinpie was too small to be of interest to her.

creative-type dad said...

kittenpie -- yeah, that is a tough line...

Mrs. Chicky -- I think that would only attract this kid.

Sarcastic Journalist said...

My neighbor's kid does the SAME THING. This kid is a total little you know what. I open the door and he just walks right in.

I just say next time tell her no and then run like hell to lock all doors. Perhaps squirt her with water if she doesn't continue to listen?

Whirlwind said...

We don't have any kids in our immediate area, so I can't help you there.

There was one child in daughter's class last year who had no social skills whatsoever - she'd leap into my van, try and take the kids toys home, look for our secret snack stash and just not get out. Mom would stand and watch, waiting for her to decide to leave. It's a situation where the kid rules the roost. I just finally have to say get out you can't do that. But we're not friends with the parents so no harming the friendship their.

cry it out! said...

Holy lord, man. Gary. You've reached down into my subliminal core and unearthed Gary. He was a neighbor kid a few houses down who simply refused to knock or accept simple things like locked doors. The one and only time I ever, EVER received a bare-bottom spanking (I think it was for grand theft auto, but I can't remember), Gary walked in the front door. I can still remember his laugh. What's with kids and not knocking?!

Incidentally, I have no advice for you. Maybe an exorcist, I dunno.

junebee said...

Give the neighbors a couple of cups of Sangria then invite them up to see the result of their kid in your kids' room.

creative-type dad said...

junebee -- That's a great idea!!

cry it out! -- Maybe I can just put some holy water in a squirty gun? Wouldn't that be cheaper?

Mommy said...

Jeez Louise! Who is the adult in this situation, and who is the kid??

If she comes in uninvited, you take her little pudgy hand and say, "I'm sorry, I said no. Go home."

If she gives you any lip, tell her when she pays your mortgage, she can come in whenever she wants for a whole month. Until then, it's "buh-bye."

If she pulls out more than one toy at a time (assuming that you want her there, so you let her in...) you say, "We have to put X back before Y comes out," and then you help them put X back.

My two year old daughter never plays alone in her room. She's not that trustworthy yet. All playdates must stay downstairs, in the family room or play room (good practice for when they're dating, by the way).

You tell her very clearly, "My daughter is younger than you are. If she cries once, you get a warning. If she cries again, you go home. No hitting, no taking toys, no being bossy. This is HER house." Then you enforce it.

The parents KNOW she's a brat, and that's why they let her (at FOUR???) run around loose. They don't want to deal with her, either. They will understand if you send her back home. They will understand if you enforce rules in your home.

Reading all the comments, it's clear to me that there are a lot of pushovers in the world. We're dealing with CHILDREN here, folks. Children need and want boundaries. What is your kid learning if you let this kid walk all over you? I'll tell you - she's learning that SHE can walk all over you too.


Amy @

carrie said...

It's your house - your way or the highway!

And if that doesn't work, don't answer the door.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

Ack. I am evil and wouldn't have even let her in the door.

And as for pushy kids that you actually invite in, a lot of time I will privately coach Declan on what to say back (he is usually the be being pushed) and then try to encourage them to work it out. Themselves. But in your case, you def need to intervene because your daughter is half the hellion's age.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Gah! I've so been here.

Lay down the law nicely but directly. "No, daughter can't play now."
"Please knock. You can't just walk into people's houses."
"It's time for you to go."

I've successfully managed some neighborhood ragamuffins with a little tough love, and now they couldn't be better behaved.

creative-type dad said...

Ruth Dynamite -- I started getting more strict with her and now she's afraid of me.
Let's see how long this works...

h&b said...

"Small Wonder". Thanks for the flashback, not.

Now i'm going to go google pics of her as an adult ( I hope she fixed the hair ! )