It's always interesting to observe your kids and their attempts to negotiate the kiddie social network. So yesterday, in the face of high temps and humidity, we gave up on the beach and headed for the local indoor pool, where I can do laps and the kids can play water basketball.
My three are not known for being good losers or winners--despite our constant, umremitting efforts to instill the "shake his hand and say 'good game'" lesson. But yesterday, I saw progress.
A bit, anyway.
Kyle and Jesse hopped in on a water basketball game with two other boys. Taller, probably older, and considerably more skilled than my guys at stealing the ball and getting it into the net.
But they were kind of, well, punky. A bit obnoxious, a bit overbearing, crowding shorter-than-the-average Jesse (who was, literally, half their size) into the corner of the pool and then grabbing the ball from his little-boy hands. Ignoring the standard rules of fairness and whooping and crowing each time they made a basket against my guys: "We rock! You s-ck!"
What should we have done? Preemptively end the game? Take over and make sure everyone is playing nicely together? Slap the little brats?
Mick and I opted to see how our kids worked it out, staying closer to the action than usual and watching for early signs of an argument.
What we saw: Kyle and Jesse working together (!!!!!) to try to wrest the ball away from the b-ball brats. Kyle patiently and calmly explaining the proper rules. Jesse looking our way for reassurance and advice, while biting his lip to keep from losing his considerable temper. Kyle and Jesse helping a little girl who wanted to play by tossing her the ball.
And my kids getting slaughtered by the older, tougher, better players.
Amazingly, Jesse and Kyle managed to keep their cool throughout the game, until we lured them away with lap swim (I bribe them with a quarter a lap).
Over dinner (Jesse and his chicken fingers, Kyle and his new obsession of mussels marinara and roasted clams), I complimented my guys on their, wow, I think, maturity.
Kyle shrugged. "Yeah, you're always gonna run into jerks in life," he said.