Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Burn Book

I decided to take my kids to the park
this weekend to run off some steam and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather. About an hour into our park visit, my son
noticed two little girls playing in the playhouse. Not one to be shy, he immediately walked up to the entrance of
the house and asked to join them. I was
nearby and heard the entire conversation:

Son: “I like your house. Can I play with you?”

Girl #1: “No. This is our house. Me and Brianna are the only ones allowed in

Girl #2: “Yeah,
sorry you can’t play with us.”

Son: “Oh… Mommy! They won’t let me play with them!”

I was caught off guard and did not know what to say. Should I intervene and explain to the little
girls that this playhouse is for everyone to share? Should I just explain to my son that I cannot make them play with
him and try to divert his attention to another activity? Should I stay out of the situation and wait
to see how they handle it? Under
pressure, I decided to choose the middle route. I told my son that I could not force the girls to let him play
with them and that we should swing for a while and play in the playhouse
later. He was visibly upset by the
rejection. I felt for him but I realize
that rejection is an unfortunate part of life and it starts young, very

Is it possible to teach our children that exclusion hurts or
is it something that they have to learn through experience? The cruelty of girls in our culture today
has been a focal point of the media lately. Were these four-year-old girls well on their way to “mean girl”
status? They were, after all, really
cute in their pigtails and matching outfits. I bet they were hiding a “Burn Book” somewhere in that playhouse.


  1. J,
    This is where I really struggle as a Mom. Faced with a situation like you described, the "Momma Bear" side of me wants to pull their little pigtails out by the roots, and make them be nice to my child. Yet the logical/rational/reasonable side of me realizes that this is a cruel lesson to be learned in life. I think you handled it great!

  2. Angie-
    Thanks. I know. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have said something to them. They need to know, after all, that purposely excluding someone is not right. But, it is not my job to teach them that. It is my job to teach my son how to handle it.

  3. Hard choice, I think I would have told the little girls this is a playhouse for ever one and they need to share it. Where were the parents? Could they hear the girls? I do not like when parents dicipline my kid when I am right there, but I would have suggested to the girls that it is not theirs and they can't be the boss of it. If that failed I would have redirected him to something else then give the little girls the evil eye as I walked away!

  4. Hmmmm..., Melinda, the evil eye. I think I used that tactic. I use it pretty often. Maybe I should have said something to the girls. I'm not sure. It is such a tough call when it comes to other people's children, especially people that you don't know.