This has been a very, very long day. The morning was the usual stuff: swim meets, shopping, house cleaning, choral concerts, but the afternoon was a doozy.
I had my son’s birthday party this afternoon, and had invited only the neighborhood boys, who are a very nice, albeit somewhat rambunctious crew. During the day, however, my son ran into another boy he knows and, in front of the boy and the boy’s father, asked to invite him. Even though I know that the boy is a very difficult child, I didn’t see any possible answer other than yes. In retrospect, “no” would have been a smarter answer, even at the risk of offending someone I had no wish to offend.
The boy’s dad dropped him off at the party and announced that he would pick him up an hour later than I had said the party would end. I didn’t think too much of that, since parents often leave their kids with me while they run errands, and the kids just play together. I have to say, though, the 2.5 hours this boy spent at my house were some of the longest of my life!
This boy “accidentally” (a) almost drowned one kid; (b) stomped on another kid’s back; and (c) hit a third kid with a pole. I spent the entire party hollering at him “Kid! Stop that.” “Don’t throw that.” “You may not jump on people.” I also put him on several time-outs, to which he submitted meekly enough, although they didn’t deter him at all from engaging in the next round of bad behavior.
Halfway through the party, one of the neighborhood boys, as nice a kid as any of them, came up to me and said, “He’s a bad boy, isn’t he?” I subsequently learned from the neighborhood parents that all of the boys went home with stories about this kid.
He’s certainly a very troubled boy, and I suspect that the trouble lies with a fractured family life and with parents who, while they truly love him, are too busy with their own lives to give him the minimal attention he needs. So he gets lots and lots of attention by being all impulse and no control — something irritating but endearing in a 2 year old (’cause you know he’ll grow out of it and his scope is limited), and just awful in a 9 year old.
Needless to say, I’m quite tired. It would have been an exhausting enough day under any circumstances, but having to police Dennis the Menace, while playing lifeguard for 11 children and managing a party was a bit more than I’d intended to take on!