All summer long we tried hard to turn Gal Smiley and Princess Charming, who lives in the house behind us, into best friends. Gal Smiley is not comfortable in large groups; she retreats to stand at the wall and sulk. She needs an outgoing best friend to always reach for her, to pull her in to activities. Meanwhile, Princess Charming is a little nervous in new situations and likes to have a friend there to cling to.
Since they were going to be in the same class at school, it seemed like an ideal match. And it was — they love each other.
But now I have a new problem. Two girls + one boy = some hurt feelings.
Princess Charming is at home all day, and we even went so far as to install a gate between the fence that separates our yard, so our kids can roam freely back and forth. That means we see Princess Charming almost every day, which is a-okay with me, because she is, after all, charming. She’s well behaved and she and Gal Smiley play together really well and we’re happy Gal Smiley has such a nice friend.
But Princess Charming and Captain Jelly Belly do NOT get along. They are both first-borns who are very used to getting their own way, to controlling the flow of play and deciding what will happen next. When the three of them play together, the Captain and the Princess butt heads continually, and it’s a stream of arguing and shoving and kicking and crying, with Gal Smiley caught in the middle between the two people she loves most in the world.
For a while there, we were banning the Captain from the girls’ playtime, because we wanted Gal Smiley and Princess Charming to bond, and we were afraid that the Princess’ parents would never let her play over here again if we didn’t take the Captain out of the equation. But when we tell the Captain he can’t play with them, and must find something of his own to do, he’s sad and lost. He just misses Gal Smiley so much. And now that we’re seeing Princess Charming almost every day, the poor Captain is really feeling alone and left out. It breaks my heart.
Plus, on a more selfish front, I’m really used to having the Captain and the Gal totally occupied with each other all afternoon, leaving me free to watch over the hurricane that is Little Miss Sunshine. It’s almost impossible to find an activity for both the Captain and Little Miss Sunshine, so one of them ends up getting my attention while the other one sits in a corner feeling sad, or empties every garbage can in the house (you decide which is which).
So. I’m not sure how to handle this parenting crisis. Time for a poll!
When Princess Charming comes to my house to play, I should:
- force the girls to include the Captain in their play (with close supervision to diffuse any conflicts)
- let the girls play on their own and find another activity for the Captain
- find a group activity, such as playing outside on the swingset or going to the park, for everyone to do together
When Gal Smiley is invited over to Princess Charming’s house to play, I should:
- say no
- say no, if Gal Smiley and Captain Jelly Belly are busy with a game of their own, but invite Princess Charming to come over and join us instead
- let the Gal go over by herself, and find another activity for Captain Jelly Belly
- let Gal Smiley go over only if we can all come (a little presumptuous!), so the Captain doesn’t feel left out, but I can keep an eye on possible conflicts
- let Gal Smiley go only if the Captain is invited too (again, presumptuous much?)
Do you think I should limit the number of days per week that Gal Smiley and Princess Charming are allowed to play together?
Do you think it’s important to arrange one-on-one playdates for the Captain (i.e. not letting the Gal tag along when the Captain visits the boys next door, as she usually does)?