Daughter was invited for a sleepover on Friday with her friend, a fellow 10-year-old who happens to be a boy. This is not the first sleepover she has had at his house. And he has been at our house for sleepovers at least a half-dozen times. When the subject of mixed-gender sleepovers was first raised, his mother and I talked about our comfort level with it. Specifically, these two kids are so innocent and sweet and like two peas in a pod that neither of us had any misgivings along the line of potential hanky-panky. They are just so not there yet.
After Pete came home from dropping Daughter off on Friday night, he said the boy's father was absolutely shit-faced. He could barely stand. He was slurring his speech. He gave every outward sign of having downed a six-pack (or two) in a one-hour period. The mother is the manager of a restaurant, meaning she often works until 11 p.m. It's been my understanding that, when sleepovers are arranged, they're arranged on evenings she is home.
I called Daughter to
The father was still wasted, more than an hour after Pete had first encountered him. We sat in the house and talked. Rather, we sat in the house and listened to him ramble and stumble and repeat himself. Before I went to make my move, Daughter asked if she could talk to me "in private in the bathroom." [Truly, some of our best conversations take place in bathrooms.]
She told me it wasn't going as she had planned. Her friend and his father were arguing, putting her in the middle as arbitrator. "Isn't my dad being mean?" the friend would ask her. "I'm not being mean, am I?" the father would ask her in retort.
Daughter doesn't know what a white lie is. Or at least she didn't know what one was until I told her we were going to tell one by saying her stomach was upset. I explained that her friend's dad had had too much to drink so she couldn't stay. [Hey, no way I'm confronting a drunk. Having been the drunk confronted many times in my youth, I know how poorly those confrontations often go.]
Daughter performed her part magnificently. We still ended up taking the two boys out for ice cream and then delivering them back home. When we arrived, the boys' grandmother -- the drunk man's mother -- was at the house. I don't know if he had called her to come because he was drunk, although I suspect that's what happened.
When we got Daughter home, she was sad that her sleepover had crashed and burned. I hugged her, said I was sorry, and told her that her dad and I have to protect her because she is our number one priority. She said she thought she was going to cry. Why? "Because that was so sweet." I hugged her closer and she said such a Daughter-ism, "What's 'number one priority' mean?"
I will beat myself up about this for a long time to come. I am not a fan of drunk people, in general, being in charge of my children. I am even less of a fan of a drunk man being in charge of my daughter. Call me paranoid. Call me sexist. Call me a cucumber. It is what it is.
The father called Sunday morning to offer an apology. He spoke with Pete. Apparently, it's an ongoing problem he's trying to work on. Not working very hard at it, in my book. Not working very hard at all. I will borrow a friend of mine's great line, "There's not an ounce of sympathy in my entire body for him."
That's my kid we're talking about. And I am still pissed. At him. And at stupid me.