My seven-year-old daughter recently made a new best friend and I was thrilled. I hit it off with the girl’s mum straightaway. She’s a busy working mum, like me, and we can actually have real conversations, rather than the polite small talk I’m forced to make with the other mums at the school.
So the new best friend – let’s call her Violet – came for a sleepover last weekend. It was my daughter’s first sleepover. I did my usual half-arsed last-minute clean-up, which involved shoving all the mess into my bedroom and closing the door.
When Violet arrived, she went around snooping the house.
Listen: Holly Wainwright navigates a tricky parenting question – what do you do when your daughter wants to go to a sleepover but you don’t know the parents?
“Don’t go in there,” I warned as she got close to my bedroom.
She went in there.
“Wow, this is really messy,” she announced.
Yeah, well, I told you to keep out, didn’t I?
I had this vague idea that I might get a bit of time to myself as Violet and my daughter kept each other amused. But I spent the whole time trying to keep Violet out of trouble.
“Oh, wait, don’t go out in the backyard till I’ve checked for dog poo. Wait! Oh, what? You’ve just stepped in it? Okay, let me clean your shoe.” Because I love cleaning dog poo off kids’ shoes.
I followed Cyclone Violet around the house. She wanted to build a cubby house. Great. But did she really need to drag out every sheet I own for something that was only going to keep her amused for five minutes?
When my daughter wanted to have a few quiet minutes to herself and read a book, Violet couldn’t cope.
“She won’t play with me,” Violet whined, giving me the sad eyes that I assume work on her mum.
What, I’m supposed to play with you? No thanks.
At one point I noticed my toddler son with chocolate smeared on his face. I found out that Violet had brought a box of chocolates with her – which I assume she was meant to give to me – and was taking my son into the bedroom and stuffing him full of chocolate. (My chocolate. Mine.)
Mealtime was a nightmare. She was prepared to eat pizza, but it had to be totally plain. And she would eat mushrooms, but they had to be on a separate plate. How did she like them? Well, she couldn’t put it into words, but it certainly wasn’t the way I ended up cooking them. Fried in butter, with a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper? Yuk. Gross.
I poured her some fruit juice. “Don’t you have any soft drink?” she asked.
Yes, Violet, I have Coke, but I will need it in the strong whiskey I pour myself tonight after you’ve gone to bed.
The next day I was counting down the minutes until Violet’s mum came to pick her up.
What am I supposed to do? My daughter thinks Violet is great, and I think her mum is great. I just can’t stand Violet. I know it sounds horrible to say that about a seven-year-old, but I just don’t like her.
Am I overreacting? Is Violet really just a typical seven-year-old? Are they all whiny and rude and demanding?
I don’t really want to have Violet back for a sleepover… but do I have the right to choose who my daughter is friends with?
Do you have any advice?
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