Monday, August 11, 2008

Did You Hear the one About the Drunk Father on a Playdate?

There is no punchline to that "joke."

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 chat get the scoop. It turns out the mother wouldn't be home until 11. That was enough for me and Pete. We drove over there under the guise of heading to Baskin-Robbins, picking her up and her friend and his brother and taking them along with us.

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.


D... said...

You did the absolute right thing and I applaud you for getting the boys out of the house too.

My stepfather was a drunk and I'll never forget the time my best friend's parents saved me. I was over at their house when he called drunk as a skunk saying he was on his way to pick me up. Her parents, understanding the situation & seeing my face, whisked us away so we wouldn't be home when he got there. I will always remember them for that.

Later, I found out the reason he wanted to pick me up was that he wanted to use me to break into my grandparents' house. He couldn't find the spare key & knew I had one. I was doubly thankful to the parents then.

Yes, it will haunt you for awhile. But, your daughter is safe albeit a little battle worn now. You protected her. And you gave those boys a safe place for a time. You did good.

Kelly O said...

?!! Holy cremoly. That sucks on so many levels. You handled it all deftly. I admire that.

Jillie Bean (AKA Bubba's Sis) said...

Yes, you definitely did the right thing. Drunks can be dangerous (I know, I used to be married to one). They should never be left alone with children. Don't beat yourself up at all.

Sian said...

My dear, you rescued her and you handled the situation so well. *Do not* beat your self up, I simply forbid you to do so :)

Patience said...

"Call me paranoid. Call me sexist. Call me a cucumber. It is what it is."

I'm going to call you a wise and wonderful Mom!!

Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

argh! its such an awful thing to get drunk when children are around. . .You handled the situation wonderfully. .:)

Anonymous said...

So he called to apologize. He recognized the problem out to others and of course you're feeling upset but it sounds to me in your writing of this that you are even now thinking about where this all leaves you.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

It sounds like her poor little friend could use a sleep over or two at YOUR house to give him a break from his father's behaviour. Not to put the responsibility on you, but that means your daughter could still see her buddy and you would know that she was safe. I can DEF understand why you would never let her stay over there again, but I would hate to see the little guy punished for his dad being so out of control.

And go easy on yourself. Your daughter is fine, and that is all that matters. Hugs.

Amanda said...

Oh. My. God! You did the right thing. ANd thank goodness your daughter pulled off her role. There will be plenty of sleep overs. I cannot fathom being in your shoes. I fear I would have blown my lid, drunk adversary or not.

rebecca said...

that would do it for me. under no circumstances would she be allowed to sleep over again. you don't want her in that kind of environment. i wouldn't care who got mad or got hurt by my actions. hey, it's your kid.

but you handled it beautifully and your daughter understood the situation very well... very mature for her age. all good all around!


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