When I only have MC, her playmate until she joined kindergarten, was mostly only me. Aside from the short visits from the immediate family, she only have me and her papa to play with. I could have joined a playtime group but I wasnt interested. I wanted her world to mean only me. Selfish, right?
Well, I didnt have any choice because my world was focused only on her and her papa. Well, the immediate family, of course. Because you see, I was new in a very strange land with a very strange language and culture and the weather, arrrgh... dont let me start. But I hold on because of my love for my family especially this little baby girl who really amazed me. Anyway, when she joined kindergarten, she found her friends. Good thing I was left with her baby sister, IC.
Like a butterfly, MC flitted from one friend's house to another. She became a social butterfly. Although it is costumary to call and arrange for a playtime date for the kids, MC managed to find herself a mate; even without my help. Well, there was the backdoor neighbor and the next door neighbor and the side street door neighbor. As soon as MC sees someone or as soon as a friend sees her, they simply scream each others' name and ask if they could play together. And that was that. Since we know the parents, there were really no problem.
IC isnt really so friendly and so sociable like her big sister. She tend to shut off and simply cling on me. She didnt have a problem in kindergarten; but she tend to stick to her sister or to those big girls who are also MC's friends. Not with kids her own age.
But last December, she suddenly decided, she wanted to play with someone her age. The little girl is not someone from kindergarten, nor is this a neighbor. But they know each other from the sports club and MC and the big sister are playmates, too. There were also times when IC and the little girl got to play, but I was always present. IC said she wanted to go to the little girl's house, alone, to play. I was not too sure about that, so I asked MC to go and play with the big sister, too. Just in case.
Well, as usual, my little girl surprised me. She took of her shoes, her jacket and proceeded to run inside the room with the little girl; not even saying goodbye to me. But still, I asked MC to take care of her little sister. When I got home, I have one ear on the phone. But heard no calls for help :D When I picked them up, they were all happily playing. That was when I realized, my little girl is slowly finding her way out, too.
But you know, it was not easy to simply show them the door and tell them to play in a friend's house. Or it is also not easy to simply accept another girl to play in our house. There were also somethings, we as a parent, should do and should know.
1. Make sure that a date and time is set, known by the kids and by both set of parents
2. Make it clear about pick up time
3. It is better to know the parents or the family of the friends
4. Exchange telephone numbers
5. Know about the friend's house rules on sweets and snacks; inform them about yours
6. Never assume that it is okay for the friend to eat dinner/lunch with you; always ask
7. If the kids would be in a strange house for the first time, I tend to stay a bit longer; maybe a short chat and a quick look
8. If IC or MC would cling and wont be left alone; I would then decide if I should stay for the whole playtime or bring the kids back home. I dont leave them crying out for me. That wont do at all.
9. If it's a first time playdate, I tend to call for a quick chat. To ask if everything is ok, or to inform the parents that everything is ok.
10. If MC's got a friend at home, I always ask her to ask IC to play with them. I know, this might not be so good, as they would want their own privacy; but hey, they would have enough privacy when they are older.
11. And of course, I always let my girls and their friends know the house rules: no springing and wild jumping in bed, eating and drinking are allowed only in the kitchen unless told otherwise, if they want to watch tv they are allowed only one program and they should always ask, if they want to go out in the garden they should ask, no playing in the streets, the garden pond is taboo, dont trample the plants in the garden, etc.
And this is important, too. When it is nearing pick up time; I always give them a warning that playtime would be up soon. That is for MC to decide if she wants to start tidying up her room with her playmate or if they wanted to continue playing and her playmate needed to go; then she would have to tidy up alone. I always tell them, they are allowed to play with everything as long as they put their toys back to their proper places.
I have hosted their playmates for so many times now and I guess, the girls and their friends are already used to the rules... unless of course they wanted to experiment. And they would know again and again that I really meant those rules. How? I tell them again and again.
Visit PMN: Home and Garden for tips on how to recycle those gift ribbons. And experience Sinulog Festival thru the eyes of Mhalou at PMN: Travel.