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My House, My Rules? Maybe Not.

When a playmate's rules are different than mine

I have had that call, when a parent picks up the phone to tell me what shouldn’t have happened at my house.  And my friend Evelyn received that call this week.

As you know, if you live in the middle or high school realm, Glee’s new season began recently.  As you may also know, the show includes singing, dancing, and suggestive banter and situations.

Evelyn has three kids, and her youngest, Claudia, had a guest over. She and the guests did what eighth grade girls do: they giggled about boys, made brownies and ate the mix before it was baked, and pretended to study science. Fine, thought Evelyn, who gave up managing playdates two kids ago.  

Then the two girls watched a couple episodes of Glee, devoured a bag of chips, and the guest went home.

Later that evening, Evelyn had a call from the other parent, who was shocked that Evelyn would allow the girls to watch Glee, especially without any supervision.

“That show is against our rules,” said the other parent.  “I trusted you with my child.”

 Evelyn apologized, she told me, but became annoyed later.

“How would I know about their rules?” she asked. “I thought it was enough to ask if kids have food allergies. I didn’t give them keys to the car or beer money.”

 I sympathize with the other parent, who probably has good reason for her rules.  I also feel for Evelyn, who didn’t know. And I can’t help wondering what I would do in her situation. Would I tell the girls they can do what they choose, anything but Glee? That sounds like a recipe for “You said we could do anything we wanted, so we put a younger sibling up for bid on Ebay/established false identities on dating sites/threw away all my clothes so I can buy new ones.”

If I heard singing from television, would I turn it off? Eighth grade girls are a little old to be easily distracted and redirected.  And I like the songs myself.

 Or would I suggest that the guest not mention what they had watched on television?

Evelyn decided that next time this kid comes over, she will ask, “Are there rules you need to follow while you’re here?”

“What else are you going to do?” I asked.

Evelyn laughed. “I might, just maybe, take the easy way out.  I’ll hide the remote.” 

What about you? Have you been the unhappy host or guest parent in this situation? How do you find out what other kids’ rules are and how far do you go to enforce them in your home?

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