Last year, when Sandor was seven he came home from a friends house. He’d been playing for a couple of hours and told me all about the day. It was great, they played video games and basketball and their was a tire swing. He said everything was great except for the cat poop.
“What cat poop?”
“Well, there was cat poop everywhere, in all the rooms, so I couldn’t sit down while we were playing video games, but it was still really fun.” And then he ran off because he’s a little boy and cat poop doesn’t really bother him.
I had met the mom, she was nice with a pretty new car. I’d waved at the dad on the front porch and they both had jobs. But the house was full of cat poop. I was horrified and stunned. What was I supposed to do, call DHS, talk to the teacher?
“Hey Sandor,” I yelled. “From now on you and Zack need to play here at the house, ok?”
As usual, I immediatly called my older children to get their feedback. Jack just laughed and said, “make him take a shower”.
But Mary said, “Do you remember when I used to go over to Heather’s house,in 3rd grade? She was the one who lived with her grandmother cause her mom was a nut job”.
“Yeah, I remember Heather, tiny with dark hair?”
“Right, that’s her. Well her grandmother’s house was full of weed and vodka. Her granny was a crazy stoner drunk, I just never told you. She was nice and everything but you totally would have called DHS. That’s why I was always out front to meet you when you picked me up. Heather and I didn’t want you to go in the house.”
I’d visited with that granny at least a dozen times. She was pleasant and reasonably smart. She clipped coupons and worked for an accountant.
So, what am I supposed to do with this kind of information. Morally, what’s the right thing. I don’t want to be the reason happy kids are taken out of their homes. The kid with the cat poop was sweet and fun and he obviously like his parents. On the other hand, I’m not the sit back and watch the house burn down kind of person.
And an even more difficult qustions, how do I know when it’s ok to let my kids hang out at another kids home. Do I inspect the house, have them take a polygraph. Apparently my instincts are less than stellar and my radar needs fresh batteries.
I’m stumped, any feedback is welcome.