My kid doesn’t like my friend’s kid, and I don’t blame him.

My son does not like my friend’s son. They are both five and in the same grade at school. It is awkward because my friend is always trying to get together and get them together and I’m not really sure how to explain that it won’t work. I want my son to be nice to her son, but I don’t think he needs to always have play dates with someone he doesn’t like. Her son is very sensitive and is always complaining about other kids to his mom, which I think is part of the problem. Not really sure how to handle it.

I used to have this friend who was nice and fun but her kid was a little sensitive, shall we say, and this kid would scream every time she got upset, which was approximately every thirty seconds, and her scream sounded like a goddam tornado siren. Unfortunately, one of my children is the sort that will latch on to this type of sensitive child and cheerfully, relentlessly push her buttons until he gets that thrilling, fantastically dramatic reaction. Playdates consisted of my devil child sitting in a three-hour time out in the corner while my friend cradled her wailing sensitive sunflower and we both tried to pretend that the playdate was anything other than an uncomfortable disaster.

This problem was eventually solved by not having playdates anymore, but the mom and I would go out for dinners and buckets of wine, and whenever the subject of playdates came up, I would say something like, “We have so much going on after school these days that Junior doesn’t have a ton of spare time in the next couple weeks, but we should definitely get them together soon!” And then I wouldn’t bring it up again.

You don’t need to explain anything to your friend; just be polite, non-committal, and firm about your inability to schedule time for a playdate. Eventually she’ll figure it out; just keep spending time with her as a friend, or socialize with your husbands. You don’t want your kids’ incompatibility to ruin a good friendship.

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