I am a full-time professional who happens to work from home. I am not a freelancer, but a telecommuter so I cannot make my own hours; I work within a set of parameters that allow for flexibility, but I still have to put in a full day of work and meet all of my deadlines – I must put in eight documented (although not necessarily consecutively worked) hours between the hours of 7 AM – 10 PM. This wonderful arrangement has allowed me to work full-time and be there for my children before and after school, and for my husband to work as a long-haul trucker during the week. So what is my problem?
Because I am home during the day, people assume that I can take time out to have coffee; go shopping; run errands for them; and generally be the after-school dumping ground for all of their children. While I have absolutely no issue with chaperoning field trips or a play date on a rotating schedule, running to the store for a friend who is ill, or even breaking for coffee with a friend I cannot maintain such a schedule on a daily basis; doing so would result in me working from 7 AM – 10 PM every day just to complete my requisite 8 hour days and to meet all of my deadlines.
I have brought this matter up at the monthly PTA meeting at school, and most of the Moms understand, but there are a few who feel that I am being a “princess”, claiming that their work day starts before 7 AM as they get the kids off to school and ends well after 10 PM as they try to get all of their house chores done. I finally snapped and told them that it is not my problem that their husbands refuse to help out around the house! This elicited a few laughs, a few cold stares, and few silent treatments – nothing I cannot handle. So long as they take it out on me and not my children, I am fine.
Long letter short (too late! Feel free to edit it!) one mother has taken it upon herself to have her child come over my house every day after school. The first few times it happened I thought my son had invited a friend home without asking, and I let it slide. The third time it happened I sat him down and told him that he cannot have his friend over to play every day; that Mommy has “Mommy things” that need to be done, and that he needs to ask me if it is okay to bring a friend home. I thought he was simply trying to avoid punishment when he told me that his friend’s Mom told her child to come over my house after school and play until she gets home from work. I lectured my son about lying and asked him if he would like to tell me the truth, but he insisted that he was telling the truth. I asked his friend about this, and his friend confirmed that this is what his mother had instructed.
Thinking that the children were playing a joke on me, I called the boy’s mother and asked if she knew that her son had been coming to my house after school all week; she replied yes, she knew, and that she had instructed him to do it since I was the one parent she knew would be home during the after school hours, and that I needed to learn to pull my load if I wanted our children to remain friends. Tazi, I was flabbergasted! I was actually flabbergasted!
This woman basically told me that unless I provide her with free after-school child care my son can no longer play with her son. My son loves playing with his friend, and as I have said I don’t mind chaperoning a play date on a rotating or even a reciprocal schedule, but this is ridiculous! I am not comfortable transporting another person’s child in my car, so I can forget about running errands with my child during after-school hours; nor am I comfortable leaving the children unattended while I work in my office (much of what I do involves translation and transcription, so I have headphones on the entire time). What in the world should I do????
I, too, am flabbergasted at this woman’s nerve! My usual sangfroid has been pierced by her use of her child as a tool to blackmail you. A Paw slap of Disgust for her, and not the kinder, gentler paw slap – claws out on this one!
If your son is able to play with his friend at school – during recess, lunch, physical education – or at a mutual friend’s home, then you may have to curb their friendship to these events only, if having the boy over every day and providing free child-care is the only way to have him over your house.
One way around this evil woman’s demands is to sign your son up for some after-school activities – sports, arts and crafts, marital arts, whatever sparks his interest. Such activities usually meet one to two days a week, so signing him up for two activities will be plenty to fill his after-school time. Your son’s school or your local community center probably offers such opportunities at affordable prices. Once your son’s after-school time is booked, there is no reason for his friend to come over your house. Inform this friend’s mother of that fact, and let her know that she will need to find an alternate source of child-care on the days your son is not home.
If she continues to instruct your son to go to your house after school, call your local community police office (there should be a non-emergency number in the phone book) and explain that the woman has instructed her child to go to your house; your son is not home and you do not wish to take the child into your care for the afternoon; and that there is nobody home at his house. The law officer will take it from there. While this action is extreme, it will be what is necessary to make this woman take responsibility for her child and to stop taking advantage of you. I can guarantee you that once is all it will take to make her stop.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.