Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not How We Roll!

Olivia’s not happy with me right now. Earlier this week, a parent of a student in her 4th grade class called and asked if Olivia could join her daughter and husband for the weekend at their vacation spot in New Jersey. She’d be staying home in the city getting some additional work done at her office. The request caught me off guard and I somehow mumbled that I’d have to check with Loverman and give her call.

I knew as soon as I hung up the answer was no, but I needed a moment to process. Olivia was sitting beside me at the time and as I hung up, I asked her what that call was all about? Olivia explained she and her classmate wanted to get together for a sleepover and thought this weekend would be best.

Now, this girl knows that’s not how the Mango Tribe rolls. Since day one, Loverman and I have set and exercised very clear parameters in regards to play dates and sleepovers. They include:

• Mommy /Daddy accompany Olivia/Yannick to the first playmate, whereas we engage the parents in the sometimes awkward discussion about firearms in the home or any past or present investigations of pedophilia of any family members currently living in the home;
• No sleepovers prior to at least three previous play dates;
• Mommy and Daddy must like the parents;
• At least one of the parents has to be present during the play date.

To date, we’ve never joined this family on a play date. The Mango Tribe was invited to the class' year-end picnic they hosted for the 3rd grade class last June. I couldn’t make it, but Loverman did take the kids and seemed to have a good time, but since it was a class party, he didn’t feel the need to hit the hosts with our usual questions. I’ve interacted with both parents at various school functions and on school committees and they are very pleasant people, but this has been the extent of our interactions.

I also didn’t like the idea of the mother not being present during the weekend. Sure, it might not be fair to lump my misgivings on the dad’s shoulders, I have no basis for linking the guy to any inappropriate activity with young girls, but this simply didn’t sit well with me or Loverman.

Beyond going through all these details with Olivia, I simply rested my decision on the longstanding family rules. To say this didn’t sit well with Olivia is an understatement. After hearing me out, she took her case to Loverman and I sat back and waited for the fireworks, because I knew what his response would be. As I expected, he too, vetoed the request.

Angry, disappointed and hurt, she moped around the house for most of the weekend. I’ve tried to patiently discuss our position, but she’s not having it. She thinks she’s outgrown these rules and we’re not being responsive to the fact she’s growing up and has good judgment. I’ve assured her that yes, she does demonstrate good judgment but no, the rules are still relevant because they provide us with peace of mind when we leave her and Yannick in someone’s care outside of our immediate circle of family and friends.

I’m also a bit befuddled by her desire to go and spend two nights with virtual strangers. Sure, she’s very familiar with the classmate, but she really doesn’t know this people. Despite our assuring her that we think these are fine people, we (and she) don’t know them and have no idea what they’re like behind close doors.

I guess for Olivia, the opportunity just represents our acceptance that she’s growing up.


Awo said...

Hi, I'm an internet friend of Allyson's and she sent me the link to your blog. Sleepovers at the homes of people we don't know is definitley NOT how we roll in my family, either!

Yolanda said...

I really really like the rules you came up with! Very neat way of approaching things. I've been torn about the sleepover thing just because its not something I believe I'm going to allow my children to do period. She may not understand now but later on she'll appreciate having parents that truly keep her best interest at heart.

Tamara said...

I share your principles, but didn't have such a clearly articulated set of Rules. Thanks. We'll have them handy for when Little Bitty starts to ask about sleep overs. (It's amazing to me that people think you're just going to let your kid come over all willy nilly!)