Her First (Last?) Sleepover

I am so angry today.

Angry at myself.

Angry at another mother.

Yesterday, I got a call from a mom of one of G’s friends from kindergarten. I know this woman, we’ve had play dates together. Our girls have been friends since the first day of school. She asked if G could come over to her house after school to color eggs. After that, they’d go to the movies and to the park. I told her that I’d meet her after school. If G wanted to go, then of course she could go.

When I asked G if she wanted to go, her face lit up and she said a very high pitch “YYYYEESSS!”

I gave the mom $10 for her ticket and a snack and told her to call me when they were home so I could come get my daughter. 5pm I got a phone call.

“Can G spend the night?”

My heart sank. The only people my daughter has spent the night with are my mother and my sister.

“Does she want to?” I asked.

“Well, here, I’ll let you talk to her.”

I asked her if she wanted to. I could hear the excitement in her voice. “Yes, Mommy! Please?”

I didn’t want to say yes. “She’s only 5.” I thought to myself. “And, yes, I know the mom, but I don’t really know the mom.”

My gut was saying “No no no no.” But my daughter was saying “please please please.”

I thought back to when I was little. I was never allowed to spend the night anywhere, unless they were people from the church or my dad could “verify” that they were Christians. I thought about all of the times I was shunned the day after a sleep over. “You can’t sit with us. You weren’t allowed to come to my sleepover.” (True story) I never want my daughter to feel like an outcast the way that I did. I never want hre to miss out on fun times with her friends because of her over-protective mother.

But she’s only five.

Adding to my concern was the fact that the mom is a single mom who lives with her father. I don’t know the father. I only know what she tells me about him. And he sounds really wonderful. But I don’t know him.

All of these things went through my head. And yet, I told her yes, my daughter could spend the night. I told her I would bring her stuff right over.

My husband drove with me over to her house to take G her things.

“Are you okay with this?” I asked him.

“No. I’m not.”

“I’m not either. But she really wants to. She’s so excited and this is the first time she’s been invited to spend the night with a friend. I don’t want to ruin her fun.”

We talked about it. We decided if we continued to feel uneasy, we’d call the mom and make up a lie. I even went so far as to come up with the lie right there in the car. “Something came up. We need to leave early in the morning. We have to come get her.”

I should have just said no.

When we pulled up to the house, G and her friend came running out. They were covered in pink eye shadow, lip gloss and glitter. “Mommy! Did you bring my blankie?” She squeeled.

I pulled her to the side. “You sure you want to stay?”

“Yes!” she repeated as she jumped up and down. Her friend came up, took her by the hand and said “Let’s go finish playing house!” She said.

“Bye Mom!” G shouted as she skipped away with her overnight bag.

We told the mom she could call us AT ANY TIME if my daughter changed her mind. “You can call me at 3am. I don’t care. I’ll come get her.” I said. She assured me everything was going to be fine. I believed her.

But not really.

Me and my husband went to grab a quick dinner, then headed to Target to get some last minute Easter things. I felt a bit more at ease after I had seen how happy she was, but there was still this little ache in my heart. This little… I don’t know what, telling me that I shouldn’t have let her stay. I kept my phone with me, just in case she called. I even turned the volume all of the way up.

The phone never rang.

Around 9:30 we went to pick up the boys from church. I was happy she hadn’t called, even telling myself it was silly to get so worked up about a sleep over. Around 11pm, I checked my phone, JUST IN CASE.

There was a voice mail.

My heart sank.

Around 10:00, I had received a phone call. From The Grandpa.

“G doesn’t want to stay, I’d be happy to bring her home if you can give me your address.”

How did I miss the call? I have no idea.

I called the mom’s cell. No answer.I called the home number. No answer.

“Why the EFF did the grandpa call?” Tony said.

“That’s a good question.” I responded.

“If the mom left my daughter there with the grandpa, I’m going to be SO PISSED.” Tony said.

My heart sank. Would she have done such a thing? Would she have betrayed my trust like that? She never told me she was going to leave. She never asked me if it was okay if her dad watched my daughter.

We couldn’t get a hold of anyone by phone.

“I’m going to get my daughter.” My husband said.

He jumped in the van and headed over there. I stayed home, just in case the grandpa called back. He never called. But Tony did.

“No one is answering the door. Give me their number again.”

10 minutes later, Tony called. “I have my daughter.” He said. “I practically banged the door down, but I got her.”
I could hear her in the background. She was SOBBING.

“She won’t stop crying.” He said. “And she won’t tell me what’s wrong.”

My heart– it was pounding. I allowed my mind to go there. I hated myself in that moment. Why hadn’t I listened to my gut? Why did I give in? Why was I such a bad mother? WHY WAS THAT WOMAN SUCH A HORRIBLE PERSON TO LEAVE MY DAUGHTER LIKE THAT?

He was home within 3 minutes. My daughter was hysterical.

“Please. Take a deep breath. We need to talk.”

She couldn’t calm down. I did everything in my power to help her, but she was so upset. After about 10 minutes, I was able to get her to talk.

“What happened?” I asked. “Did something happen?”

She tried to talk through the tears.

“I was just so scared. I didn’t want to stay there with E’s grandpa. I don’t know him. I was so scared and you didn’t answer the phone and I wanted to come home and…”

She was hysterical again.

“Did he yell at you?” I asked.

“No, Mommy.”

“Did he touch you?” I asked.

“No.” she said.

“No one touched you or did anything mean to you?”

“No. Mommy. I just didn’t want to be there. I was scared when E’s mom left.”

E’s mom left.

I’m angry about that. And my husband is angry about that. We entrusted our daughter into her care, not her father’s.

I’m angry with myself too. I’m angry that my poor judgement could have resulted in disaster for my daughter. We were lucky. Nothing bad happened. I mean, it was awful that she was scared, that she didn’t feel safe, that she felt like we had abandoned her (by not answering the phone the first time they called.) But that was something we were able to talk about, something she was able to understand and to heal quickly from.

I feel so lucky.

But I also feel anger. I’m so angry with that mother. But mostly, I’m angry with myself. For not listening to my gut instinct. For saying “yes” when what I really wanted to say was “no.”

(edited to add: I wanted to make it very clear that the grandfather did nothing wrong. As Marinka pointed out, he called us when G told him she didn’t want to stay. My issue is solely with the mother, for leaving my daughter without asking if we, as her parents, were okay with that.)

79 thoughts on “Her First (Last?) Sleepover

  1. Boston Mamas

    Y, I would be beyond pissed too. You are not overreacting. You were trying to do well by your daughter and what she wanted and though I tend to be someone who relies heavily on my gut, I also know well that feeling of having the begging and pleading and squealing and not wanting to be the killjoy.
    The mother definitely needs to be talked to — where the hell did she go?? If another mom did that to me they would have to work very, very hard to earn my trust… though we’d probably just never go into that space again.
    I’m so, so sorry you are dealing with this. xoxox Christine

  2. Echo

    You have every right to be angry!
    I’m mad at myself for the same reason. My 7-year-old was invited to spend the night with her friend on Thursday night. she’s had many sleepovers with the girl at her mother’s house, but never at her father’s house; this time was at her father’s house.
    I agreed to the sleepover reluctantly. I don’t know the dad that well, but the mom assured me, even though they are in a bitter custody battle, that he’s a great dad and wouldn’t hurt her.
    She came home yesterday and told me there were a lot of other kids spending the kids, even a 12-year-old boy who told the other kids he drinks beer and smokes cigarettes! I don’t know if he actually does this or if he’s telling the kids that, but WTH? What kind of issues must that 12-year-old have, ya know?

  3. The Tutugirl

    I am so sorry that happened last night. BUT. Don’t beat yourself up for ignoring your gut. We’re trained to ignore our gut, to focus on being polite instead of listening to that little self-protected voice. I know exactly how you feel- I was robbed in a grocery store when I ignored my gut because listening to it wasn’t polite or politically correct. But you can’t beat yourself up over it, because that doesn’t change anything or solve anything. All you can do is be glad that nothing happened and know to follow your gut the next time.

  4. nic @mybottlesup

    my heart is pounding just reading this… and my son is only 2, not even 2, he turns 2 this month… not that this is about me, but i read every word of this post while holding my breath.
    i’m so glad she’s ok. i’m so sorry you and your husband and your daughter had to go through this… i don’t know what on earth i would do in terms of confronting the mother… shit. shit. shit.
    i’m going to take a xanax now.
    gosh, i’m glad she’s ok.

  5. Madge

    ((((HUGE SUPER BIG HUG)))) I’m so sorry for the both of you. Thank goodness she is OK. I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) to trust that little voice inside. Even when my kid is shouting “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE”. It’s so hard to think straight when they seem so happy and want something so bad.
    I DO NOT think you are overreacting in any way. That woman has a TON of explaining to do.

  6. Overflowing Brain (Katie)

    I’m mad for you. I don’t have kids, I don’t know what it’s like to have to make big decisions like that, but I do know that no mother should ever leave someone else’s child home with a stranger. It’s not okay, period.
    I don’t think you’re overreacting and I hope that mother thinks twice before doing that again.

  7. jessica

    Take it easy on yourself. You learned a valuable lesson, to be sure but we all do it. Just another reminder to us all, LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! I totally understand where you are coming from, wanting your kid to have fun, I get it
    As far as the mother is concerned, yeah, no more, at least in my book. Sleepover with her kid? ONLY if the kid came to my house. I’d be very very pissed off as well.

  8. Y

    Thanks for talking through this with me.
    The thing I’m so upset with myself about is that I KNEW better. I’ve said no to my boys many times because my gut said “This isn’t okay.” I have always said “I’d rather have my kids be mad at me for a moment than scarred for life.”
    But last night, I talked myself into believing I was being too over protective because I didn’t want to ruin my daughter’s day.
    LESSON LEARNED. Oh my God. So learned.

  9. Kara @ The Vacation Gals

    My heart, too, was in my throat until I read to the end.
    a) You are an amazing storyteller.
    b) I agree with others – don’t beat yourself up. Everyone learned from this situation.
    c) I hope you do find out where the mom went and/or why she thought it was okay to leave the girls.
    d) Thank you for the reminder to go w/ your gut when it comes our kids. I sometimes feel peer pressure to allow/not allow. Got to follow gut.

  10. Janis @ Sneak Peek At Me

    I know I would be BEYOND pissed if someone did that to me & my child. ((HUGS)) I’m so sorry your daughter was scared, but TG nothing REALLY bad transpired. You are not overreacting!

  11. Lolita

    You are NOT overreacting AT ALL. It was her first sleepover and the mom left??!?!
    I’m so sorry that happened to you. I h

  12. Ms.B.

    I am so glad that it turned out the way it did. A situation like that is absolutely horrifying for everyone. Why in the world no one answered the phone or the door is beyond me. Always go with your gut. Yes, you learned a valuable lesson – you are not the first to learn this lesson. Go with your gut – it’s not just the best advice for caring for babies; it’s great advice for the rest of their lives! We have uncanny bonds with our kids that extend way beyond the physical circumstances. Phew! I bet you just feel like hugging the stuffing out of your little girl today. I know the feeling…

  13. Maria

    I can’t even form another thought right now, or finish this comment because I’m seething on your behalf. OMG.
    Fuck no.

  14. Lolita

    yeah…i was so pissed I hit post on my last comment before finishing.
    What I meant to end with was… I have been accused of being overprotective but I go by my gut instincts. I’m OK with the title of overprotective mom while my kids are 5 and 8.
    Hopefully you can discuss this with the mom so that she understands that her actions weren’t OK.

  15. Marinka

    So, I have a few thoughts, maybe because my children are older. And I really don’t want to upset you further, because I think you have every right to be upset.
    And I hate sleepovers with a passion, because there’s not a moment of peace for the parents and you never really KNOW another parent. The parade of horribles is neverending.
    You trusted the mom, and she was proved to be totally untrustworthy, but the grandfather, who you did not trust because you did not know him, seemed to have behaved completely right. He listened to your daughter when she wanted to come home and he called you.
    What impresses me most, though, is that your daughter sensed that she didn’t want to stay there, verbalized it to the grandpa and to you and was able to have her wishes carried out. THAT is a real parenting coup, and you and your husband deserve a pat on the back.

  16. Y

    You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about the Grandpa. My issue is with the mother.
    She shouldn’t have left my daughter there with him without telling us she was doing so.

  17. Pseudo Hipster

    wow. I want to cry reading this and I don’t even have kids. I can’t even imagine what you were feeling. I have neices& and nephews and I know my sister and brother in law would go nuts if this happened. I was never allowed to sleepover peoples houses but I always had the best sleepovers so it’s not like it had a big impact on my childhood, it was a good trade off. I turned out fine. I was kinda pissed at my mom at the time but looking back on it I’m really glad she kept me at home because you really never know these days what people are capable of especially when it comes to children so don’t feel guilty about saying no. They’ll get over it and thank you one day when they’re watching “Intervention” and are like “damn I need to thank my mom because I seriously dodged alot of bullets there.” well at least that’s what I always think.

  18. Nickie

    Let me start by saying that I don’t have children. Also I don’t think you are over reacting. It’s one thing if the mom ran out of milk and ran to the store to get some and come right back and left the kids with her father. Not excusable, but understandable. But your daughter called and one hour or more later the mother is still not home. Hell no! I’d be pissed.

  19. Maggie, dammit

    Oh, love. My heart hurts for your heart. This kind of pain, the kind we feel through and for our kids, is the worst kind.
    It’s so hard to ignore my powerful need to people-please (whether that’s pleasing my kids or random strangers) in favor of my gut. It’s years and years of conditioning. It sounds like your daughter’s own instincts are healthy and powerful. God willing, our daughters won’t have those instincts quashed in the name of polite behavior.
    Don’t beat yourself up. You all did well. I’m so sorry.

  20. Sylvia

    What impresses me most, though, is that your daughter sensed that she didn’t want to stay there, verbalized it to the grandpa and to you and was able to have her wishes carried out. THAT is a real parenting coup, and you and your husband deserve a pat on the back.
    I want to repeat this, because this is important.

  21. mommabird2345

    My heart started pounding the moment I read “sleepover”. I hate them with a passion.
    You have every right to be pissed off. I’m pissed & it didn’t happen to me or my kid. I am very protective of my kids and there are many times I think I should let them do things, but I just can’t. Like you said in a comment “I’d rather have my kids be mad at me for a moment than scarred for life”.
    I’m so sorry this happened. Wait until she is older & have the other kid stay at your house. *HUGS*

  22. Cait

    Oh my goodness, that’s horrible! For the mother to leave without giving notice ahead of time is inexcusable. I can still remember some of my childhood sleepover experiences – hell, sometimes if I went to someone’s house just for the afternoon and the “regular” parent I knew wasn’t around, I’d feel anxious. And that was even once I was 10 or 11! So to be 5 years old and left with an adult you don’t really know? I can’t even imagine.
    I’m so sorry this happened to you and your daughter, because it makes it so much harder to trust the situation in the future. Although you had the gut feeling not to send her, there was a good chance it would’ve turned out absolutely fine had the mother stayed. There was no way you could’ve known that she would disappear and leave the kids with the grandfather without warning, so try not to be so angry with yourself (of course, all the anger towards the mother is TOTALLY justified). Shame on her for not realizing the consequences of her actions – I would think that, having a daughter of the same age, she would at least consider the implications of leaving.
    Anyway, big hugs to everyone. What a sucky situation. I hope your daughter is able to understand that this is not what every sleepover is like and that she’ll enjoy many more in her future. She was a very brave girl to speak up and say she was unhappy and that she wanted to go home.

  23. Sheri

    You are right to be angry with that mother, but not with yourself. You are a good mom, a great mom. We expect other parents to act with the same caution and concern that we would, and there is no way you could have predicted that she would leave your daughter alone. Who the heck leaves when their kid is having a sleepover guest?? The problem is not with you or the decisions you make, the problem is that we just can’t trust other parents to make the right decisions, which is so sad. Please don’t be angry with yourself.
    I am so glad everything turned out okay.

  24. M&Co.

    Oh that sucks!
    I never spring, “can X sleep over” on a Mom. I have approached a Mom privately, told them who was going to be there, what we were going to do and when they could expect their child home and then add, “I’ve not said anything to the kids” because it pisses me off when the kids hit me with it and I don’t have all those questions answered in advance.

  25. Amy Mayfield

    You are not overreacting-not even a little tiny bit. I would have been insane.
    Constant battle not wanting to be freakishly over-protective and not wanting anything bad to happen.

  26. Jessalee

    NOT overreacting in the slightest! I would be beyond pissed too. I also agree with the comment about her knowing well enough to ask to call to come home, and the grandfather complied. At this point the only irresponsible party sounds like the other mother.
    As far as the sleepover situation, I know your parents were strict. My mom wasn’t too strict in this regard, and I could stay over at friends’ houses as a child. But really? These days more and more parents are saying no. More and more parents are trying to be more aware of situations their kids get into when it comes to sleepovers, and I OFTEN hear how parents have a rule of no sleepovers. It’s different now than when we were kids.
    In fact, that’s our rule as well. You can stay and play until bedtime, but then I’ll come and get you. If it’s my mom’s or brother’s house? They can stay. Friends and neighbors? Absolutely not. Granted, my kids are only 5 and 7, but still, the rule will stick as they get older.
    You guys did right! You really did. You didn’t just let it be, leaving her there all night long, worried about waking them up or coming across as lunatics. Instead, you demanded she come home. And that is huge. And thank the stars she’s safe!!

  27. Heather

    What impresses me most, though, is that your daughter sensed that she didn’t want to stay there, verbalized it to the grandpa and to you and was able to have her wishes carried out. THAT is a real parenting coup, and you and your husband deserve a pat on the back.
    Amen, and amen! I’ve not ever been a parent (yet! heh) but 5 seems pretty young to me, and it’s really, really uncool of the mom. I mean, if I were in her situation, I don’t know why she had to leave? Or if she “had” to leave…but I’d have called you, and said, “Hey, I need to go out, is it ok if I leave the kids with my dad, or can I maybe bring them to your house for an hour or so…” etc. When you’re responsible for someone else’s kids, you should NEVER NEVER EVER change the arrangements without okaying it with their parents!!!

  28. sarah

    OMG, I am shaking just reading this. I would be absolutely LIVID at the other mother. There is no acceptable excuse short of her being rushed to the hospital for her to NOT let you know she was going out and leaving your daughter with someone you don’t know.
    The other girl’s grandfather may indeed be a lovely, wonderful person who would never hurt a fly, but you don’t know that. I cannot imagine the panic you must have felt. That is terrifying.
    It’s so hard not to over-analyze your own history in an attempt to “do better” by your own children; I do the same thing in relation to my being an only child and trying to make sure my child is never lonely (as he’s wound up being an only child, too). Sometimes I look back on something and realize I’ve not made the best decision for him because I was trying to rectify something that has to do with me. It’s a tough lesson.
    I’m so glad you went to get her; this is such an example of mother’s (and father’s!) intuition being spot on.
    WHAT are you going to say to that mother the next time you see her?

  29. melissa

    i’d be furious. you had a right to know if that woman was going to be out for the evening. i’m sure the grandpa was trustworthy but that doesn’t matter. you left your child with the mom and her kid. that mom is selfish and irresponsible.
    it’s kind of interesting that you posted this tonight. because, my daughter is having a sleepover. her friend is coming to my house. they are 12 though. my oldest is 14. and i was considering going to the bookstore for a little bit because my husband is out playing…gag…poker. but then, i thought about it and i would be fuming if i found out that my daughter was sleeping over someones house and the parents left a very young teenager in charge.
    so i’m not going. i’m home…commenting on blogs.

  30. Cincy

    Good for your daughter for speaking up! Now, you make a new rule–no sleepovers!! Ugh. Nearly all of us have buckled under the pressure of not wanting to end the fun. It’s a tough call to make.
    Also? Why do cell phones never work when you most need them? WTF is up with THAT?!

  31. RoseC

    I never understood my mom’s “overprotectiveness” until I entered my 30s. Looking back, I can’t count the number of times she followed her gut and it made a huge difference in my life (at the time I was too young to appreciate it). She was extremely strict about sleepovers–only allowing us to go when she knew the character of the parents, and when we were supervised the entire time.
    ALWAYS follow those “funny feelings”–they’re there for a reason. We often view them as illogical, but science has shown that intuition is just the brain taking in evidence and processing it so quickly we don’t register its logic at the time.
    This may actually turn out to be a really positive experience, though. Nothing terrible happened, thank God, and it reminded you to trust your gut–and may help your daughter trust your gut a little more too (it’s so hard when you’re young and excited!).
    As a side note, that mother should NEVER have changed the arrangements without letting you know and offering you the option of picking up your daughter. I’m reminded of kids who were in my care at a home church function, when another church member tried to take over. I immediately had him leave, because the parents had entrusted ME with their kids–not a strange man. That trust should be respected, no matter what.

  32. Marie Green

    I am so mad, just reading that!!!! I’m so sorry. I hate that feeling, when nothing in particular is pointing to “bad gut” and yet “bad gut” is there. I don’t want to be an overprotective parent, either, so I struggle with this.
    Like a few other people said, you should be so proud that your daughter knew how to communicate her wishes clearly and have them result in her getting what she needed to feel safe. WAY TO GO. That’s awesome parenting, right there…

  33. cindy w

    Oh god. My kid is 3. The idea of her wanting to go to a sleepover in 2 years is giving me a pre-emptive anxiety attack.
    So no, I don’t think you overreacted at all. Five is pretty young for a sleepover, although I know I had them when I was that age (but they were neighbor kids, either next door or across the street, and our parents all knew each other REALLY well). But the mom was waaaay out of line for ditching the kids on her dad, especially if she knew it was G’s first sleepover.
    The good news is that G is probably not scarred for life and will likely have forgotten the whole thing by the time the next Big Sleepover Event comes up. Of course, you & Tony are a different story…

  34. Nina

    I agree with everyone else…you are not overreacting!
    My kid is 7.5 and, other than my mom’s house, has been to only one sleepover. And I only said yes because it was across the street. I don’t trust anyone with my kids. It even took a while for me to let her spend the night with my mom.

  35. Lauren

    I am sitting here angry as if this were my own story! You are not overreacting, you are completely sound. And one hell of a story teller.
    Thank you for sharing the lesson you learned with us. Now, maybe when it becomes my time to deal with this, I’ll think back to this.

  36. Sarah's Dandelions

    oh, how I SO understand. I wish I didn’t… but I do.
    Unfortunately, our outcome wasn’t as good as yours…
    I have learned to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS listen to my gut…

  37. Christine

    Oh man, oh man. I’m so sorry that you and G went through that. How craptastic that G’s friend’s mom left the kids alone like that. I am glad that you are all okay, if shaken up.
    But, please, please don’t beat yourself up over it too much. Things happen, and G is still very young. I didn’t go to sleep overs until I was older, but I remember my sister being invited over to a lot when she was younger (I guess her crowd started younger?) but my sister never made it through the night. Ever. It was a running joke, but still she would insist that *this* was the night that she would successfully sleep over someone’s house, so my parents always let her go. G will survive it all, and there will be more.

  38. Katie

    The thing that annoys me is how the mother put you on the spot, asking if G could stay over while she was there in the background – obviously G already knew about the offer and was excited about staying. The mother should have discussed it with you first BEFORE asking G if she wanted to stay. I do think you were pressured and put on the spot by already having G excited about it and knowing her friend’s mother approved.
    You didn’t do anything wrong – the other mother did. I can’t believe she would leave, that’s ridiculous! And to leave G with the Grandfather, who might be the most amazing and wonderful man in the world – BUT G and you don’t know him, and you didn’t approve him babysitting her alone. I agree that you trusted her and she did the wrong thing.
    G handled herself wonderfully. To have the guts to tell the Grandfather she wanted to go home and to ask him to call you is really great. You should be proud.

  39. kami

    I would be LIVID if someone did this…..EXACTLY why my 4 year old daughter has not had a playdate at someones house…yet! I’am a freak about my kids just like you :)

  40. Denise

    wow Y, I felt such anxiety just reading this! I don’t judge your mistake at all; I understand how not wanting to disappoint your child can make us parents let down our guard. I’m thankful she’s okay. My daughter lost a friend because after said friend had spent the night here a couple of times, she wanted my daughter to spend the night at her place. We have a know sleepover rule (certain exceptions like long-time family friends, etc.) so we said no and the mom was so offended that her daughter could sleep here but mine was too good to sleep there. Oh well she has a teenage son that I don’t know from a whole in the wall, so I’m not comfortable with it, ya know?

  41. Denise

    wow I posted “know” instead of “no” and “whole” instead of “hole” all in one comment. Tired, much?

  42. Kathy C.

    I rarely post comments, but faithfully read your blog. I am just sick to my stomach reading this, but so very grateful it all ended as it did. I know exactly how you feel, but just try not to beat yourself up over it. She’s okay and let it just serve as a little lesson to always listen to our intuition.
    You’re a WONDERFUL mom, wonderful parents – you and Tony.

  43. Rosie

    My girls weren’t allowed sleepovers until they entered 3rd grade. Until that time they were allowed to stay and play until bedtime and then I’d pick them up. If they were invited into a sleepover party then they could party until 10 or 11 and I’d pick them up.
    I wouldn’t nix sleepovers entirely, but I’d maybe hold off until about 3rd grade and start slowly with a best friend and trusted parent. Any parent would understand your reticence if you explained this experience to them, I’m sure.

  44. Shana in Texas

    I hope you can update us on the mom’s explanation and it had better be really good because I am HATING her right now and that is not appropriate for the Easter holiday.

  45. Helen

    I have 6 kids oldest 24, youngest 7, no sleepovers. I just don’t see what fun can be had that can’t happen before sleeptime. When my bigger kids hit their teens their friends could stay over but until then, no way.
    So glad G was safe and that you were able to go and get her. Why the mother even asked for her to sleep over if she knew she was going out is beyond me, stupid woman!

  46. Heather Cook

    Oh I’m so sorry that happened! Ugh. I totally get what you are saying and I sympathize, wait, I empathize with your feelings of guilt for ignoring your gut. But thankfully nothing happened and you won’t ignore that gut again!
    I hope you are able to have a very calm discussion with the mom (if you are able, you’re probably a better person than I am because I’d have politely asked where she was AT THAT MOMENT so I could freak out on her) and explain that she’s broken your trust. Essentially E’s grandpa is a stranger. You didn’t agree to leave your daughter with a stranger.

  47. Baby Favorite

    Now that my kids are older, I’m able to better reason with them when my answer is no (and I have the guts to stick to it, which isn’t always). I have always told them, if I didn’t follow my gut and something happened to you, I would NEVER forgive myself. I can’t live with that.
    Unfortunately, they more clearly understood what I meant by that recently. My son’s friend had been grounded for two weeks, due to a poor grade, and he hadn’t been allowed to ride his dirt bike–something he loved doing (and was a pro at, sponsored and everything). Two weeks into the grounding, he BEGGED his parents to let him ride. Begrudgingly, they let him.
    30 minutes into the ride, he went over the handlebars in some kind of freak accident and died.
    I hated to use him as an example, but I did. I said, “THAT’S what I mean by not trying to get me to change my mind. When the answer is no, it’s NO.”
    I’m glad your little girl is okay. My heart was pounding reading your post, imagining the worst, and going THERE right along with you. We’ve all BTDT, I think. Parenting is so hard.

  48. kate

    oh my gosh, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I would have been so upset…my daughter isn’t old enough for sleepovers yet but your post definitely got me thinking. I’m glad your daughter is ok.

  49. jonniker

    I. Am. So. Mad. on your behalf. Enraged. Furious.
    Why would she do that? Who does that? That is not okay. THAT IS NOT OKAY.
    You don’t leave two little girls home alone with a person — a man, woman, anyone — that one of the girls not only does not know, but her PARENTS do not know.
    OMFG. I am so sorry, Y.

  50. elizabethk

    IF this had been me, I would have done the same thing. It is amazing to me, how now-a-days, kind of knowing someone often means — ah yeah, they’re fine. NOPE – not good enough really…BUT too often we do worry about that our kids lives are somehow going to be *less* if we don’t go along, let them *fit* in and have fun. I just don’t like sleep overs — I only slept over at one friends house…but that was enough to really send me down a wrong direction in some areas of my life. My parents had never been over to her/their house. We were frenemies for years…but I just should not have been allowed to be over there so unsupervised as I was (beginning at the age of 10)
    Don’t be afraid to listen to your gut (God is there) — I know I bypass my gut (and my God) all too often and ALWAYS regret it. Your daughter rocks — she spoke up, she called…your hubbie rocks — and SO DO YOU. Don’t beat yourself up…learn from this and move on. The past holds nothing but woe.
    Hugs and pure admiration!

  51. angelynn

    I would feel the same exact way. You are definitely not overreacting. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, and I’m glad your daughter is OK. It’s so hard when you see your kids so excited about something you’re not sure of. Half the time it will be nothing at all but the other half, who knows? I’m so thankful for all of you that nothing happened. But you’re right. You did nothing wrong and the Grandfather did nothing wrong. The mother should never have left without calling you first and giving you the option to pick up your daughter. That is inexcusable.

  52. Kim

    Poor Gabby.
    That mother would have had to have a REALLY good reason, like maybe a ruptured kidney or something, to leave my most precious thing when I was assured she’d be in her care.
    This is why I HATED sleepovers. Hated them , when my kids were little. This is also why, even though it required Xanax and a lot of Excedrin, I always hosted the sleepovers. I still hated sleepovers with a passion, but at least I knew where my kid was, and they didn’t miss out on the sleepover experience.
    I’m glad this turned out ok.

  53. Angelena

    I have to say, I would be just as angry. Not at the grandpa for calling, but at the mother for leaving when she specifically asked for your daughter to spend the night with her and her daughter. Never mentioning that grandpa would be watching them. I would be fuming.
    I am so sorry you went through this but glad you guys came out ok. Look at it this way, now you know to listen to your gut. Always. :)

  54. Lindsay

    WOW. That was completely and totally inappropriate, and to be honest, I would say that to the mother the next time I saw her. Any time a man (or anyone else besides the one you left your child with, really) is in charge of kids, other parents need to know and be able to make up their minds about whether they feel comfortable with that. Always go with your gut. Always. I am learning this the hard way and it’s created some awkward social situations for me, but our kids are worth it, right?

  55. ella

    Have you talked to the mom? I’d like to know what she has to say for herself.
    Poor Gabby!
    I think all moms have been in the same boat.
    You want your kids to have fun but that little voice in your head is say NO!!!
    I’m glad she was ok. She just wasn’t ready for a sleep-over at a friends. She’ll be ready next time. In a few years. Right?

  56. Issa

    I would have been pissed off too.
    I have certain places my girls can spend the night, because I know the parents extremely well.Other places, I tend to say no, but I’ll invite the kid to my house.
    I’m really careful. Really paranoid maybe. Shrug.

  57. jennifer

    Wow! That is so scary! I’m glad everything worked out and that Gabby is okay. That mother made a huge error in judgment; but so did you. Please don’t take offense to that.
    Always go with your gut. Always! Your precious Gabby is too valuable. She would have been initially upset, but it’s okay. You did not need an “excuse” for the mother. Simply: “We feel Gabby is too young for a sleepover, but thank you for taking her on a fun outing!”
    Don’t beat yourself up! Everything is okay, and huge lesson learned.

  58. Gretchen

    That mom better have had some kind of medical emergency! There is no excuse to leave like that! Someone commented that you are such a great story-teller…absolutely. I read the entire post as if I was right there with you, freaking out on the phone…I’m just sorry this happened to you all.

  59. Tiffany

    Oy vay, reading that made my stomach drop! Glad everything worked out…I despise sleepovers! When I lay down at night I want all 3 of my babies in their own beds. I do allow them to sleepover at a friends house but only if I personally know the parents, even then I look for excuses for them to stay at home ; ) If anything we have all been reminded to listen to our instincts!

  60. schoolofmom

    I’m late to this party, but:
    1. Yes, yes, and YES you should be pissed at the mom of Gabby’s friend. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Mom’s Code that WE DO NOT DO THAT, EVER. Once I had to take one of my kids to the ER while caring for someone else’s child… even though my next-door neighbor/friend was right there and offered to care for her I opted instead to take her with me and call the mom on the way to meet us at the hospital. We just don’t do that.
    2. I think it happened this way for a reason. I had an upbringing not dissimilar to yours and one of the things it’s been hard to admit to myself is that, sometimes, my parents’ strict over-protectiveness actually did, in fact, protect me from some bad stuff. I’m not surprised that it was Gabby who made you question your gut; it’s our daughters who make us see our faces, hear our voices pleading with our parents to let us be normal, just this once, and in the desire to give the girls we used to be the pleasures we were denied, sometimes it’s easy to go too far with the girls we gave birth to. At least, it has been for me. But she’s okay, you’re okay, and no one had to get hurt for the lesson to be learned, so don’t beat yourself up.

  61. mouthy_broad

    I HATE when i don’t listen to my gut and my gut gets proved right.
    very lucky. that was some poor decision making on her part. and WHERE THE HELL DID SHE GO? invite another child over and not even stay? and the kids were awake? i mean seriously.
    know what i hate about everyone doing everything via cell phone? YOU NEVER HEAR THE DAMN THING!!! gah gah gah. note to self: when i have kids keep the damn home phone and make sure every person on earth has that number. i tell our friends to call our house phone. so many times we have missed something b/c someone called our cell and it was on vibrate or was on ring but in a bag or something equally stupid.
    i miss the ringing of a phone screeching through the house on four different ringers.

  62. Leah

    I am beyond pissed for you. That would be the last time my daughter goes over there ever. The other girl could come to my house but never again over there. I would say something the next time the mother invited her over. I’m glad everything is ok.

  63. susan

    So glad G is ok, and to repeat everyone, you are not overreacting- I would discuss this with the other mother quickly ~ and let her know it was not cool for her to do that at least without asking first and even then she should have called. ALWAYS trust your gut, it is always right.

  64. Desiree

    My heart got caught in my throat for you. I’m so sorry you went through this, but happy to hear everything is ok. I hope this doesn’t ruin future (way in the future) sleepovers for you or G.

  65. Lynn

    That’s really rotten of the mom.
    I’m not found of sleepovers in general. What’s the point? Sometimes we do a “late pickup-er”, where the child can stay to 10 or 11. And, this is probably worse, but we have let our kids go on vacations with very trusted other families.
    BTW, we had a rule. No spontaneous sleepovers. That gives everyone a chance to think things through (including the kids who might too excited about the good time they are having with their friends to think about what it means to be gone that long).

  66. Rachael

    Wow. That is freaky and scary and all sorts of wrong. I agree with listen to your gut – I think there will definitely be situations where you’ll be able to deal with her having sleepovers again, but you’ll know when it feels right. Big hugs to you!

  67. jessica b

    I would have been pissed as well. And I don’t think that you over reacted at all.
    I don’t agree with the few people above who feel you should nix sleepovers though. i think that they should be put on hold until she’s a little older and more ok with the whole idea. I believe my son was 8 when he went to his first sleepover. of course i knew both parents extremely well and it was a sleepover/birthday party so there were 2 other boys invited as well. I have hosted many sleepovers for him also. they have so much fun! of course i could use some medication on those nights, but they have so much fun that i just feel it’s worth it.
    I remember going to a couple of sleepovers as a child. not a lot, because my parents didn’t know the parents of most of my friends. but i did get to go to a few of them and i remember how exciting it was to be a part of it. i won’t refuse that for my son… unless i have good reason. i do have to note here though that my son goes to a small private school (the public schools in the area are SCARY) and everyone knows everyone else very very well so it’s a little different than larger schools. I, however, was in one of the largest public schools in the area so i do know that you have to be quite choosy when agreeing to such things.
    don’t beat yourself up. we all want our kids to have fun and to enjoy the things we feel we missed out on and so sometimes we go against our better judgement… but we learn. this whole parenting thing, even after a couple of kids, is a neverending learning experience.
    by the way, what did the mom say about this situation? as was pointed out above, she was gone for over an hour. there’s no excuse. when i have other children visiting my house, i’m always sure that i have everything i need in the house so that i dont have to leave for anything.
    some people just dont think, ugh!

  68. haitian american family of three

    Oh I felt a little sick when I read the title and now I feel so angry on your behalf. My husband and I have a rule of NO sleepovers, ever, until our kid is 12-now that sound crazy old, but I don’t care!! I can’t believe that mom left your BABY with her dad-you don’t know him and thank god he turned out to be a good person, because you never know-as someone with a trauma filled childhood I am on the very overprotective side of parenting. Hope you are feeling better!

  69. blairzoo

    So glad the story wasn’t worse. Good job raising a kiddo who is able to know when she feels safe or not and asked for her parents. That is huge. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Now you’ve learned just how perfectly perfect your inner voice is and I bet you won’t ignore it again.
    Just for the record, our family rule has always been that kids must be 10 to do sleepovers. I hate them and discourage them as much as possible. Yup, my kids have been mad at me and felt left out, but I KNOW that nothing good ever happens late at night when there are kids involved. We will do a late playdate, and I’ll pick them up at bedtime, but I can’t stand the fallout for the next 2 days from tired, crabby kids who stayed up half the night. And I know for my kids, they always acted and felt worse the second day after, so it was a long 2 days of suffering for the whole family.
    Every time I hear the statistics that 1 out of 4 girls in the USA are molested in some way, it makes me more clear that I have to be super-vigilant even if it makes me unpopular.
    A friend was just telling me today that her son (13) went to a sleepover and was traumatized by inappropriate behavior of another boy. This is a small, close-knit, Church-based community. Which just shows me that sleepovers are just not good for anyone, any age, any gender.
    Hang tight Y. Love and sweetness to your beautiful little girl. What a blessing that she knows she is safe with you.

  70. Andrea

    YOU ARE NOT OVERREACTING girl! The same thing happened to me the other day with my neighbor and my daughter is also 5. Next time you’ll know what to ask so this experience will at least save you the trouble next time if you choose to allow a sleepover again. We are the only creatures on earth that allow ourselves to ignore our gut instinct and that’s a mistake. You knew something was amiss and even though it wasn’t a huge thing wrong it was still wrong and your gut knew it. She’s your baby and you’re allowed to do whatever it takes to raise her properly to one day raise her own child.

  71. elz

    Ugh. We tried a sleepover last year with our 5 year old-she begged to stay. She made it to 10:45. I don’t envy your next coversation with E’s mom. Peace mama, you did fine.

  72. ame

    Similar thing happened with my 2 girls when they were 9 & 11. I knew the mom, knew she had recently seperated from husband #3 & that she and her 4 kids moved in with her parents.
    I didn’t know that the mom was going to stay out all night at a party, leaving her mother alone with 6 kids.
    I allowed my older daughter to spend the night again, knowing that 2 of the 4 kids would be with their fathers & that the mom would actually be staying home.
    I didn’t expect the call from my daughter the next morning. I didn’t know that the mom & grandmother were both at work & had left my 11 year old and her friend home to babysit her 2 year old sister. She was miffed that her friend told she either had to change the toddler’s diaper or take it to the trash can.
    My daughter understands why I don’t let her stay with that friend any more.

  73. baseballmom

    ohhh boy. you are totally not overreacting. i would be pissed too. a couple weeks ago, T wanted to stay with a friend, and when i talked to the mom, she was going out and leaving the boys with her parents. They are 14, but i still said no. at least she was honest with me! that mom should have told you she was leaving. period. one time, i let t spend the night at a friend’s against my better judgement, i met the mom, she seemed nice, his house was in a good neighborhood, etc., but the next day, he told me that they had had poptarts for dinner because the kid’s parents had a huge party, and all of their friends were there drinking and smoking pot. he and the other kid stayed in the bedroom playing x-box but STILL!!! we had a talk about how he needs to call me at the first sign of something that we would not allow in our home next time. it’s so HARD to say no when they want to spread their wings, but don’t kick yourself…you’re a good mama.

  74. Kat

    Oh my GOD. What was that mother thinking? A little girl left alone with a stranger? Her ears would ring for a week if it were me. Seriously.

  75. Roshan

    I think I’d be boiling raging mad at the lady. I can understand how I would feel. That was so immature of that girl’s mother to leave ur daughter.

  76. mom, again

    I’m so sorry you somehow missed the first call. similiar has happened to me and I still kick myself, 20 years later.
    Meanwhile, that other mom? OMG, how thoughtless.

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