Over the weekend we had a little incident with Amelia and her little friends. Here at the apartment complex she has three main friends. She plays the most with S and they also play with sisters, T and T.
Sunday morning Amelia was asked out to play. We let her go to S's house to play with S, T and T. Jason went down and checked in several times and the report was they were all having a good time. Early afternoon there was a knock on the door. I heard Jason talking to the girls (S, T and T) and I went to the door. They were telling Jason that Amelia had to come home because they were going to T and T's house and their room was clean and Amelia would take out toys and make it messy. I looked down and saw my daughter, with her head down, walking home saying, "I wanna puh-way (play.)"
I lost it. I asked the three girls what they thought happened when they played at our house several times a week. I pointed out that they take out every toy we own and refuse to pick up, leaving me (and Amelia) to clean up their mess when I finally get them to go. I asked them if they thought it was fair to say a friend couldn't play because they might take out toys when that is exactly what they do at their friends' houses.
We brought Amelia inside and told the girls that our house would no longer be the hangout - at least for awhile. I said I would no longer be willing to let them destroy our house and leave me and Amelia to clean up after them when they left to go to the next person's house because we have an earlier (normal) bedtime.
Not long after we came in, T and T's mom came down to see what had happened. What I told her mostly lined up with what the girls had said happened. She told me that Amelia is always welcome to come over and she has no idea why they tried to exclude her. I apologized for scolding her children but she thanked me for doing it. She said so many parents let her kids get away with everything because they are afraid to scold them.
I still can't decide if I did the right thing. I know it was right to stand up for my daughter. I also think it was probably right to stand up for our home and the way we do things here. We clean up - it's as simple as that. That rule will need to be respected from here on out. What I am worried about is that I will now have this "mean" image to the other kids and that Amelia's friendships with them will suffer. I know from my own childhood that people get left out, kids don't always get along all of the time and that people's feelings will be hurt - I don't live in some fantasy-land where things are always picture perfect. It just seems so different when it is your kid being hurt - especially for the first time.
Amelia is only three. We have plenty of long years of hurt ahead of us. I'm going to need to thicken my skin a bit - I hope it comes with experience of being a mom ;)