Feeling Enlightened

I recently blogged about problems with Neighbor Girl and how I told her to go home one day. Since school has started, we see her much less. But when she is here, the problems, especially with Jenny, continue. Sunday evening, just before dinner, my 6 year old is once again in tears; it was her turn to pick the game, but NG wouldn’t let her.

I made it clear to Katie and NG that dinner was in 10 minutes and NG was to go home at that time. She likes to stay for dinner, but I think the rule will be “not on school nights.”

At dinner, I discussed the girls’ treatment of Jenny. “When was the last time Jenny got to pick a game?” I asked.

“We never get to pick. NG always picks,” explained Katie, unhappily.

“What are we going to do about this?” I asked. I’m not surprised that this is happening. I’m only surprised that my daughter isn’t complaining about it. I have had to realize that she is too nice to put up a fight. Her sense of politeness is overruling her sense of justice.

All the kids, even the boys, suggested a “House Rules” list, written down, that they could refer to. My kids know the house rules. They want the power that comes with pointing to a written rule and telling someone else they have to obey it.

So I typed up some house rules and then asked the kids for their ideas, some of which matched mine:

“Share and take turns.”

“No name calling.”

“Clean up when you are done playing.”

Some of their ideas, I never would have thought of:

“Clear your own dishes from the table.” (Apparently, NG makes the girls clear her stuff.)

“Close the door behind you.” Now that the colder weather is approaching, I have been on the kids’ cases about leaving the door open. The field mice will be seeking warmer lodging.

The boys wanted “Leave the boys alone” but I already had a rule “No excluding others.” I suggested “Ask before joining ongoing activities” and said that they could ask for 10 minutes before having to include them. Most of the time, the girls don’t want to play, they want to harass. If they have to ask to join in, and then wait 10 minutes, they will likely move on to other games.

Most interesting: while I was listing generic rules that apply to everybody (“Do what you MUST do FIRST. Play comes after work.”), the kids were thinking exclusively in terms of NG.

We’ll see how this goes.

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4 thoughts on “Feeling Enlightened

  1. Good luck – I'm really impressed at how hospitable you are all being with this girl.

  2. These are excellent ideas! I think I'll make a list like that.

  3. I like the having to ask before joining activities rule. Maybe it can be added that if you join an activity you can't then change the rules of the activity. I can see NG joining a game then changing the game completely.

    Katie may be too nice, but I think that's a good problem to have.

  4. Sounds like a good plan. We could use some “house rules” around here, mostly for the visiting neighbors' benefit.

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