My almost 10-year-old daughter has a friend I’ll call Kathy. Kathy has been over to our house to play with my daughter for years, and we’ve never really had much of a problem. We’ve noticed lately that Kathy isn’t as well behaved as our daughter’s other friends, and she also is not as tolerant of my daughter’s younger siblings. Yesterday, Kathy spent about 6 hours with our family, and it was a fun yet tiring day. It was one of the few times we’ve had an extra kid around and I’ve noticed extra chaos and strife; usually the extra kid(s) blend right in and sometimes even help out with the little ones. We took Kathy to the mall which is about 20 miles away, and we ate a Mexican buffet, bought the kids candy at the $ store, and took the kids to the pet store.
Kathy’s mother was supposed to come at 6, and since the kids had a late lunch, we were waiting to feed our kids until Kathy was picked up. Kathy’s mother was late, and the kids got hungry, so we tried to stretch our planned dinner for 4 kids into one for 5. It didn’t really work, there was some squabbling about food, and Kathy’s mother finally showed up around 6:25. On her way out, I called to Kathy who has asthma, “Do you have everything? Do you have your inhaler?” To which she responded, “I still haven’t found my inhaler.” (like she had told me she was missing it, but she hadn’t!) I unlocked the car for her to look in there, and I went up to her mother’s car and explained that this is the first I had heard about the missing inhaler. Her mother was extremely rude to me. We didn’t find the inhaler, and they left, and I vented to my husband because I don’t like when people are upset with me! He was sure that I had misunderstood; that Kathy’s mom was upset with Kathy for losing her inhaler. After all, if her mother had told me at any time that Kathy has a tendency to lose her inhaler, she could have asked me to keep a special eye on it, and I would have! But not one word was said – I only know about the inhaler because I’ve seen her carry it; it was never explained to me.
So then today, our cell phone had some missed calls, and they were Kathy’s mom. When my husband called her back, he was sure she had called because they had found the inhaler. No such luck. The frantic phone calls were Kathy’s mom asking if we had found it yet and informing us (quite rudely) that if we did not find it, we would owe her $47 for a new one. So my husband, now knowing that I had NOT overreacted to the rudeness last night, calls the mexican restaurant, and sure enough, they have it. He called Kathy’s mom, who basically told us we would have to drive back out the twenty miles each way to get it. But it’s Thanksgiving week, we have 4 kids, and my husband works during the day. So she hung up on my husband, and now I’m upset and writing a blog post about it. Here’s the pickle:
Kathy is the real victim here. Her mother is mad at her and her friends and their family, and her mother’s erratic behavior is going to isolate her daughter. As it is, Kathy calls our house about 20 times every weekend and is pushy about being invited over – it’s hard not to feel like our house might be the only place to where she gets invited. But as a parent, I did not like the negative influence I saw Kathy having on my younger children yesterday, and that was before any conflict was had with her mother. My daughter’s birthday party is coming up, and I feel badly for both Kathy and my daughter if she isn’t invited. On the other hand, I feel this is more than just a parental conflict that can be overlooked for the sake of the kids. I feel a little bit taken advantage of – after all, we invited Kathy to spend the day with our family, and her presence did incur some minor costs. Nothing I would have thought twice about, until I was given flak about our fun day… and I’m 95% sure we told her mother we’d be heading out to the mall ahead of time also, so it wasn’t as if it came out of left field! Also, my husband and I are concerned about what Kathy’s mom might hold us liable for should we have any further incidents with Kathy at our house or in our care.
So do I let my daughter invite her to the birthday party? Should I say anything to my daughter about this conflict? Do I pay any bills I might get from Kathy’s mom for gas, etc? It’s just a shame this had to happen; my daughter has plenty of friends whose parents are on the same page with us; we take their kids out all the time without incident, and they even usually say ‘thank you!’. I honestly don’t feel like we did anything out of the ordinary here… Should I have gotten a babysitter and driven the 40 miles to get the inhaler myself? Honestly, if I had done that though, I might have THROWN it at her when I got back!