I have a friend who is also a mother of a boy that my boys play with after school and during weekends. During a social event recently, her behavior towards me made me think that perhaps I had done something wrong (she moved away when I came to sit next to her to chat). I was a bit puzzled but oblivious and too busy to dig deeper. Then, through a different mom, I heard that there might be an issue with the boys. My boys had been singled out by my friend as bullying in the playground, and being mean, physically and verbally towards her son. I was quite shocked (this really does not sound like my boys, who always make sure to include everyone), a bit puzzled, and upset about her not coming to talk to me immediately, so I asked her as soon as I saw her the next day. She told me that, “Yes,” she had been avoiding me because of how my boys treat her son, who hasn’t been wanting to go to the playground lately because of them (this conversation is taking place WHILE my boys are playing very happily with her son). I was so baffled, all I could say was, “Why in the world would you not have talked to ME about this, and sooner?!” She was obviously very upset, and since bullying is a serious matter, I told her I would talk to the boys immediately, and find out what has been going on.
That evening we had a big talk - speeches, questions, discussions – and according to both my boys, it’s this boy that is trouble.
“His mom says you guys keep running away from him when he wants to play.”
“Yes, we run away from him because he is poking us continuously, jumping on us, and is being very annoying.”
“His mom says you guys call him names.”
The boys could not remember ever calling him any names. There turned out to be some other accusations that seemed unfounded – the boys could recall a few other instances, but it always turned out that the other boy was the trouble, and not my boys (we had them tell us separately - the information we got was the same). I told the boys to talk to the boy and straighten things out. Ask him exactly what names you called him and how he is hurt.
That evening I talked to the mom again, who seemed mainly bothered that I would keep bringing it up. She was obviously uncomfortable talking about it. I felt worse than ever.
When I came home, the boys told me about their conversation with her son. He could not remember that they had called him names, and when the boys told him they really had never meant for him to feel upset, but if they had, then they were sorry, he had just replied, “Sure, no problem.” The next day they were all playing again, nicely.
So, at least all the kids are fine, which is more than I can say for my friendship. I was just starting to make some friends here in Lebanon, but with this and add the birthday party flop, I think I might be back at square one.