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Monday, November 06, 2006

Tough Situation

We had a strange thing happen yesterday/last night. Maddie (our middle daughter) spent the night at a friends' house on Saturday night. This friend's mother is a friend of mine and all our kids hang out. On Sunday, Maddie called me from their house and asked if she could go with them to a family birthday party for their cousin's daughter who was turning 4. After talking to the mom, who said it was fine with her and that her daughter's really wanted Maddie to go, I said yes. After talking to Maddie and reminding her about all the things mom's remind kids of: "mind your manners", "tell them thank you for having you", yadah, yadah, off she went. At around 6:00p.m., we met my friend in town to pick up Maddie, had small talk and went home. Once we were home, we all sat down and watched Chronicles of Narnia and then it was time for bed.

After tucking both kids in, my husband and I were upstairs watching the news and in comes Maddie. "Can I sleep with you?" This seemed strange to me because our youngest, Brenna is always asking to sleep with us, but rarely Maddie. At first I just said 'no' - I wanted to get a good night's sleep and that never happens with kids in the bed. But for some reason, she kept persisting which was really strange. Finally, I said, "yes, you can, I will make up the cot to put next to the bed, is that okay?" She said that was fine.

After the cot was set up and we were getting ready to go to sleep, I casually asked her why she wanted to sleep up here, had something happened or did something in the movie scare her? Here is where the problem unfolded.

She proceeded to tell me that something wierd happened at her friend's cousin's house that day. That her friend had a male cousin, she thought his age was around late 20s - early 30s and that he "creeped" her out. This got my attention right away, of course, so I asked her what about him creeped her out? She then tells me that he was a total pervert and that he kept touching her and her friend and her friend's sister. "Touching how?" I asked. She said that he kept trying to tickle her back and that he was touching her friend's butt. She then said that he kept trying to get the two of them to leave and go to the store with him - to which they told him 'no'. Maddie said that she was sick to her stomach the whole time because he was making her so uncomfortable. When she asked her friend what the deal was, her friend told her that he is always a pervert. When it was time for them to leave, he came to the car and wanted to give each girl a hug. One of the girls just jumped into the car so she wouldn't have to hug him, but Maddie and her friend quickly gave him a hug and jumped into the car.

After she was done explaining, I asked her if she bothered to tell my friend what was happening and if so, what did she say? Maddie said that both her and her friend were talking about the guy when they got in the car and telling my friend about it and her reply was, "Yeah, he's a pervert."

Okay, instantly I was pissed. If my friend KNEW this guy was going to be there and that he had a reputation for being a 'perv', as they call it, wouldn't or shouldn't she have told me?? When my daughter expressed to her how uncomfortable she was, wouldn't or shouldn't my friend have said something to him or at least to me so I knew what was going on?? Am I over-reacting?? And what about her daughter, he is actually touching her butt, for God's sake - isn't she concerned about this??

Maddie was pretty shaken and it gave us a great opportunity to talk about it and for me to let her know that she has every right to let someone know that they should not touch her. Also, if she did not want to give this man a hug - she had every right not to and should never feel bad or feel like she has to so she doesn't hurt their feelings. She also needed to know that she should never feel ashamed or like she is doing something wrong by going up to an adult and letting them know that there is inappropriate behavior going on that is making her uncomfortable. Of course, we have had these talks with all the girls, but in the abstract it's hard for them to understand. Now that she has had a brush with this, she can relate to what I'm saying.

I pushed a little more to make sure there wasn't anything she wasn't telling me and it seemed like she had gotten it all out. Now the problem is how to confront my friend in the best way to let her know how upset I am, but try not to end the friendship, although do I want to be friends with someone who has such poor judgement when she has my child?

You know, you have friends and you assume you all think pretty much alike on most issues when it comes to parenting, but sometimes when you get into the way some families work, you realize your views on child-rearing couldn't be any further apart and that's a tough situation.

Any advice?


blackdaisies said...

oh wow ...

on the upside, you have to be proud that your daughter trusts you enough to talk to you about it, this is a really good thing!

as far as advice, i really don't know but if it were me and this friend was really close, i might tell her about your discussion with maddie and that the situation makes you uncomfortable and see how she reacts ~ maybe it will open up the conversation ...

regardless of what you do, i wish you luck and i'm glad that maddie is okay ...

Ashley said...

i second the being glad maddie is ok ... there are all kinds of ways it could have gone very bad, very quickly.

i have a friend who has 8 kids (i know...) and had some girls over at a sleepover for her 13-year-old. the girls had been drawing/writing in notebooks and she found a crumpled up piece of paper after they'd all left with drawings/writings that were entirely inappropriate.

she did talk to the mom and tried to show complete compassion and mutual interest ("you know i adore your daughter ...") but she finally had to just tell her kids that it was only ok to have sleepovers with family members. it was just too hard to know that she didn't have control over what was going on in her own house, and she didn't have the kind of freedom to freely discuss with the girl what had been written/drawn.

anyway. long, drawn out comment from someone you don't know---but there ya go.

Cece said...

Oh my goodness I'm so sorry she went thorough that. ((hugs)) I'm very glad to hear that she talked to you openly, you should be proud.

Hmm, what would I do? I think I'd have the friend over w/o the kids and just talk to her abotu it. Tell her how Maddie was uncomfortable w/the whole situation and ask her why she didn't warn you or keep a closer eye on her? I don't know, when it comes to my family I am MUCH more confrontational so I might not be much help.

I have to say, this is an example of why I do not let my kids go anywhere w/a friends parent nor do I take on the responsibility of another child, besides my niece.

I hope you can get this worked out, again, I'm sorry she went through this.