Kids, camp, and friendships

Reply Fri 14 Mar, 2008 11:43 am
I know this is one of those that the most obvious answer is probably "It depends...," but I'm interested in getting some feedback...

Sozlet is a very social creature. Put her in a group of kids she's never met before and she is happy and at ease, and will usually make some lifelong friends within an hour or so.

Occasionally I've signed her up for classes or camps or whatever along with a friend. She usually seems to chafe at being expected to socialize overwhelmingly with that friend. She wants to meet everyone, and REALLY hates it when the friend gets possessive. (This has happened to greater and lesser degrees, with it sometimes being annoying but fine and sometimes a Problem.)

The ideal situation seems to be one that happened last year, where we signed her up for something and a friend of hers happened to be in the same class -- they had fun together but there didn't seem to be that expectation of joined-at-the-hip-ness.

But then very occasionally, too, she signs up for something where everyone else has already signed up with a friend or two and she's the odd person out.

So... summer sign-up season has started. (Enough "s"s?) I'm starting to get the "let's sign the girls up for camp/classes together" stuff and am having a bit of a hard time with it.

Any thoughts/ experiences/ ideas?
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Joe Nation
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 06:47 am
(This has happened to greater and lesser degrees, with it sometimes being annoying but fine and sometimes a Problem.)

It's happening less frequently because the Sozlet is figuring out, social creature that she is, how to handle the situation. Good for you, mumsie, you're raising a well adjusted human!

Keep listening, otherwise, stop worrying.

Joe(she going to be the one whom everyone thinks is their best friend)Nation
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Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 05:46 am

Don't helicopter.

The Sozlet has social skills and is developing more. I don't imagine she'll ever qualify as a Social Isolate, but just in case she spends two weeks as a Social Isolate this summer--or any other summer--she'll be coming home to a loving home with an enlarged view of the world.

Helicopter mommies go to hell.
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Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 05:55 am

My concern is actually more in the other direction. I'm having a hard time figuring out how to say to parents, "Nah, let's not sign up the girls together." I've already given in on a couple of things since I posted this since the "nah" seemed too difficult and not worth it.
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Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 08:25 am
How to be a Spike in the Rotors of Helicopter Mommies:

That's another problem.

For this year go on as you've begun. The kids are just signed up for the same activity, not chained together for the entire camp.

Start thinking now about your coping tactics for the Summer of 2009--which could well include asking The Sozelet how she feels about the situation.
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Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 09:50 am
My daughter has her summer camp friends and her school friends, meaning
that she always went alone to summer camp and made lots of friends there.

I made it a point to enroll her alone, and Jane kind of likes it that way too.
It gives her the opportunity to make new friends without the drama of being
tied down by "old" ones.
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Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 11:29 am
I asked sozlet, and she's fairly neutral. She seems to tend toward wanting to be a free agent (not signing up with friends).

CJ, did it ever come up that a parent of one of little Jane's friends wanted to sign them up for something together, and if so, how did you handle it?

One parent in particular said that her daughter wanted to go to a certain camp but didn't want to do it by herself. So if I said some permutation of "nah," she wouldn't go. Not the end of the world but I feel bad about it.

At this point I'm tending towards a mixture. About 4 different programs over the course of the summer, two with friends (one with two different friends, three girls total), and two without. I kind of cheated on one -- didn't mention it to the moms who were interested in finding out our plans.
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Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 11:56 am
sozobe, yes, a few years back when Jane was probably sozlet's age, we had a friend sign up with Jane and it didn't work out. Our neighbor's boy, John, was friends with Jane and they were playing together all the time, they really
got along well within their own little world but with other kids added to the
equation it turned out to be difficult.

Jane is also a social butterfly and makes friends fast. She's just very lively and entertaining and that draws people to her. John on the other hand is very shy and introverted, and his mother thought it would be better for him, if he accompanies Jane to summer camp, and I initially agreed with her.

At first, Jane was okay with John latching on to her at camp, but as she
made new friends, John became a nuisance to her, he was too clingy,
and she started excluding him in games and when interacting with others.
John complained to his mother about it, she came over and we talked
about it. I felt bad but at the same time did not want my daughter to
be responsible for entertaining another child. I was relieved when John
got to go into a baseball camp later on, and lo and behold, he made
his own friends there.

I learned that the kids who wanted to be with Jane the most, were always
the needy ones, and I wanted Jane to have a carefree time in summer camp.
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Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2008 09:41 pm
Just found this. I tend to sign them up for things according to their interests and my convenience/wallet and with their input. Occasionally another parent will ask what we're doing and I'll give sort of a summary -- here for this part of the summer, there for the other. Then it's in their court if they want to sign their kid up too, fine. It might not be the same situation, of course, but it seems like maybe just already having plans will immunize you a little.

Ducklet does a swim and gym class after school with a good friend of hers from the neighborhood. That was something we specifically made an effort to sign them up together for. Good thing, too, because they are the only two in the class and they have a ball. But Ducklet also enjoys going places where she doesn't expect to know anyone. She's at a spring break camp this week that she is really enjoying where she doesn't know anyone but has made lots of friends.
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Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2008 02:21 am
Ask her what she wants to do and who she wants to do it with!
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Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2008 06:19 am
Thanks, FreeDuck. When this started I didn't have any plans, now we do. There is still some of "Oh that sounds good, Michaela would love to do that too..." that goes on though.

Bohne, the bigger issue is dealing with the parents. From experience I think it's better if sozlet goes to camp on her own rather than going with friends, but the moms of the friends in question are being pretty persistent and I want to strike that balance between doing what's right for my kid but not being rude. (And also taking into account that sometimes it's better to not smooth the way... is this one of them?)

Operating out of sozlet's preferences is a given but she doesn't have super-good predictive skills when it comes to this sort of thing. I ask her, "do you want to go to camp with Tina?" and she says "yeah!" Then two days into camp she says "Tina is getting mad if I play with other kids and she's driving me crazy...!"
Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 02:56 pm
I'm doing some tagging, thought I'd update...

She ended up doing *zero* camps with friends. She was supposed to do one camp with up to three friends, but all of them ended up not being able to do it. A girl she vaguely knew (same school, same grade, but haven't really crossed paths 'til now) was also in that camp, and they became super-great friends. So that worked out well.

Oh wait, she did do one short (half-day) camp with a couple of friends. That was fun for her, too.

I think the moral is "don't worry about it, she'll be fine either way." Probably avoid signing her up with her clingier friends, but not all of her friends are clingy.

Edit: Re-read, about parents...

Yeah, that's what worried me, I remember now. One of the most insistent parents' daughter IS clingy. They ended up not going to any camps together. I didn't really purposely put a monkeywrench in the gears, but didn't go out of my way to make it work, either.
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