Parenting doesn’t get any easier. That’s my experience.
This week has been a rough one in terms of parenting decisions. A birthday invite came for Miss9 to attend a party, which was fine, but also to stay for a sleepover. It has been a nightmare trying to take a firm stand in the shifting sands of our resolve. Miss9, as you’d expect, has been laying the pressure on pretty deep, but we’ve managed to keep her in check with a very firm, “No, unless we change our mind.”
Now our oldest kids are 21 and 18, so clearly we’ve been through this before, but you wouldn’t know it to hear us ‘discussing’ the matter all week.
Here’s a sample of the circular conversations we’ve been having. This isn’t an actual conversation, but for a mock up I have to say it is all too accurate.
Tracey: “I think she’ll be fine. She really wants to go.”
Bruce: “If we start her at nine, we start them all at nine.”
Tracey: “She’s been crying.”
Bruce: “Can’t be helped.”
Tracey: ”The other four girls are staying over.”
Bruce: “I don’t like to single her out, but they’re not my children.”
Tracey: ”So what do we do?”
Bruce: “I’ll pick her up when the other girls go to bed.”
Tracey: “She’ll be so disappointed.”
Bruce: “I hate upsetting her, but what do we do?”
Tracey: “And just when her confidence was up too.”
Bruce: ”I just don’t know. Maybe….”
Tracey: “Will you call and talk to the mother?”
Bruce: ”Hold on. Maybe we should consider this.”
Tracey: “No, I think she should come home.”
Bruce: “But she’s nine years old, after all. She’s old enough.”
Tracey: ”She’s still a baby.”
Bruce: “I think she can stay.”
Tracey: ”But I don’t want the other kids to start at nine. Sorry, she can’t.”
For a week, we’re both changed our minds two or three times a day, swinging like pendulums between ‘the sky is falling, the sky is falling’ and ‘you can’t keep them in cotton wool forever’. I want to make jokes about this, but it’s just too damn hard. My mind isn’t smiling. And that’s big because I’m the sort of idiot who laughs at funerals.
It’s not like we’ve never let her stay anywhere overnight before. You ask Grandma, Nanny and assorted other family members – we can’t push them out the door fast enough. But trusting a ‘virtual stranger’ with your kid is something else. Even if that ‘stranger’ is someone you see every day at school.
Ultimately, we decided she could stay, but the decision was made so late we had to pack a bag and drop it over three hours into the party. And this was following a message from the birthday girl’s mum which read, ‘She’s really keen to stay, she asked me to ask you again if she can,’ and us replying she couldn’t. The only reason we caved was we knew these people, we knew these kids and we know our daughter.
Yep, Miss9 might not be invited to any sleepovers again for a while, but it won’t be her fault. It’ll be when word gets around about her high maintenance parents who can’t even properly RSVP to a party invite until the candles are blown out.
I’d be very interested to hear the views of other parents out there on this tetchy subject. When do you think it’s fine for sleepovers at friends’ places to start?
Bruce Devereaux is a 45 year old child who enjoys cooking and reading and not cleaning toilets. And blogging – he loves blogging. His light-hearted blog is an open and honest account of a large family of nine busy finding ways to laugh at themselves. You can find it at www.bigfamilylittleincome.com