One of Little Guy's friends came over today to play. He's a nice kid, creative, fun. The boys get along well. About three hours into the playdate the boy said to Little Guy, "I'm hungry!"
A few moments later, he said it again. And then again. I didn't respond, because I'm the old-fashioned type who draws a distinction between announcements and requests. If you're six or seven and give me a news report like "I'm hungry" I'll acknowledge that you said something, but I assume that if you wanted me to do something you'd ask me.
Eventually the boy asked if he could please have something to eat. "Of course," I said, "We have fruit, or I can make popcorn."
"I hate popcorn!" the boy said. I blinked in surprise.
"I think you meant to say, 'no thanks' to the popcorn," I suggested, in a slightly puzzled tone. The boy looked at me funny. "I have apples, pears, bananas, and oranges," I added.
"I only like grapes," the boy said. I raised my eyebrows.
"I'm sorry, but I don't have grapes. They're not in my budget at this time of year. But I have other fruit"
"My dad buys grapes," the boy countered.
I honestly don't think he meant to be rude. I reminded myself that he probably hadn't been in this situation often, and was still learning that different families have different ways of doing things. I took a deep breath to fight off irritation. I told myself, This is part of my job as a mom. To help set boundaries for kids, even if they're not my own.
I mean, if it was my kid who was being annoying, I'd want you to teach him -- kindly and gently -- a better way to handle himself. I'd want you to correct him, guide him, explain things to him. What I wouldn't want would be for you to blame my parenting skills and take out your irritation by withholding a future invitation to play.
The conversation with the boy took another ten minutes before he settled on something he was willing to eat. I gave it to him and he said, glumly, "I guess I'll have to try something new..."
I smiled and replied, "I think you meant to say, 'Thank you'."
And d'you know... the boy took his plate to the kitchen without being asked. And Little Guy forgot to do that.