Do your kids’ social lives differ from each other drastically? When my son E was younger, it seemed easy to find play dates for him. I belonged to a play group in my neighborhood and a bunch of my friends had kids around the same age. Even when we moved from the Midwest to the east coast, I was still able to help him find friends (it was easier for him than for myself). Nothing delighted me more than the sound of kids running through the house screaming. It meant that he had friends and was having fun and I excused the loudness. When we moved to a different state last year (also out east), E once again made friends automatically. He connected with our neighbors’ kids, as well as kids from shul and kids from his school.
E was 2 ½ when he and his friends were running through the house screaming. M is 2 ½ now and I haven’t seen him share that same delight with his friends. Sometimes he even hits them if they won’t share a toy, which makes me worry that his friends’ parents won’t want us to bring him over anymore, despite how much we discipline for such behavior. M is very sweet and outgoing, so it saddens me that he’s always in his brother’s shadow when it comes to social situations.
M’s social life seems small in comparison to E’s. M goes to a school and has lots of same- aged peers there. He talks about friends from his school, whose names seem to change from week to week. However, he’s had very few play dates all to himself. In fact, he’s usually the one tagging along on E’s play dates even though the older kids don’t include him or call him a “baby” or “monster.” I try to have families with kids his age over for Shabbat meals. E gets annoyed when I don’t have anyone his age too, even though he has a lot of friends over all the time. He usually ends up playing big brother to M’s friends and they seem to flock to him more than to M.
When my sister and I were younger, we used to spend hours together in the basement playing with our Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kids. As we got older, we continued to share interests and do fun things together. She would hang out with me and my friends and I’d sometimes hang out with her and her friends — it didn’t matter whose friends were whose. We made connections for each other. Sure, there were days when I’d pick on her friends or get annoyed with her for tagging along with me and my friends. However, we usually struck a good balance.
I don’t feel like the same is holding true for E and M in terms of sharing friends. Usually, E wants his friends for himself and doesn’t want to include M — or E will win over M’s friends and they’ll want to play with him instead.
Does anyone have a solution for this type of situation? I’d also appreciate ideas for more ways to plan social time for M on my busy schedule of being a working mother.