≡ Menu

Odd Mom Behavior

When I was 7 or 8 I became very good friends with a girl named “Mary”. She was a year younger than me, and her mother was somewhere around her mid-thirties. We were often at each others’ houses whether on weekdays or weekends. Our mothers, while not friends, were friendly and trusted each other. If Mary was at my house and my mother was going somewhere, she’d take us with her. If Mary’s mother was going out, she’d do the same. If one of our mothers saw an item of clothing or other item that was unique or useful, she would pick one up for the other child. If we went out to eat, the other child came along. If we had dinner while one was at the other’s house, they would have dinner too. It was a nice setup, and many happy memories were built around my time with Mary. I should add that these were the days before play dates and helicopter parenting.

When Mary’s mother took us out, we’d always be home by 6 or 7pm at the very latest. Usually 6pm for dinner reasons. These were all car trips, and most of them were on school nights. However, one weeknight during the school year, we didn’t get home by 6pm. Or 7. In fact, as the evening rolled around, we kept going and ended up at one of Mary’s relatives houses. I was okay, but as the clock ticked, I started to feel a bit weird. I assumed that Mary’s mother would ask me for my house number so she could phone my mother or grandmother to say we’d be late. She didn’t. This was in the days before cell phones, so a payphone or a house phone was the only chance to make a call. If I recall correctly, all I had said to my grandmother was that I’d be at a friend’s house, so I wasn’t even sure my family would have figured out I was with Mary without their making calls to my friends’ houses. Mary’s parent’s were separated for a while, so no one would have answered their home phone if my family called. I hoped they’d figure things out from this.

I was too afraid at that age to ask what was going on or why Mary’s mother wasn’t calling my family. I also was very hungry as we hadn’t eaten. This was out of character for her to keep me so late, and I was confused. She was visiting with her relatives while Mary and I chatted to other children, and remember, I trusted Mary’s mother. I didn’t want to upset her by questioning her.

We left the relatives after 10pm and I thought we were finally going home. By this point I was very worried and starting to feel shaky. However, since I thought we were finally going home, I thought all was well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

At 11pm we ended up at a restaurant where a number of people that Mary’s mother knew or were related to were gathering (maybe 10 or so). It was just a casual get together, nothing more. However, I was starting to become so nervous that I started to feel sick. I started worrying about being yelled at, and about school the next day. At 8 I was thinking these things but too afraid or unable to vocalize it. So it came out as illness instead. I started to have bad stomach pains and other worry related pains that I couldn’t understand at that age. Near 11:30pm it became so bad that Mary’s mother got flustered with me and told one of her friends what to order for her so said could take me home. I have a very clear memory of Mary comforting me, but her mother acting as if I was a pest.

When we got in the car, I realized Mary’s mother was angry. Very angry. She took me in the car alone to my house (not very far, but at the time I had absolutely no clue where we even were!). She stayed silent the entire time and had a face like stone. I got home and my family was relieved, but very confused by Mary’s mother’s actions. I remember them chatting about it and not understanding why she did what she had.

The next time I saw Mary, she told me her mother was very angry at me and that she would NEVER take me anywhere again. I couldn’t believe it because even at that age I knew she was at fault. When I saw her mother later that day, she was very cold to me, but I figured that would fade as she was angry at herself. I felt she had to be! I don’t know if my mother spoke to Mary’s mother about this or not, but I know she didn’t tell Mary’s mother I could no longer go anywhere with them as she would have told me the same thing and told me never to get in a car with her again.

The next time Mary and her mother were going to go somewhere while I was over at their house (within a week or two of the late night incident), Mary’s mother told me they were going somewhere so I had to go home. I did so, feeling very hurt and very much like I was guilty of something. I felt ashamed almost, as if she wanted me to feel guilty for something I knew was not my fault.

This continued and Mary’s mother would send me home when they went somewhere and was always cold to me. It hurt me horribly. Strangely, I started seeing less of Mary. She wasn’t there at our usual times as much. I don’t know if that was done on purpose by her mother or not, but I knew something wasn’t right and it hurt. The next year when Mary turned 9 I was invited to a party at a roller rink, and they did take me in their car (along with a number of other children), but Mary’s mother was still cold despite a few happy words to me due to it being Mary’s birthday. By this time Mary didn’t seem to be that concerned with me as a friend since we didn’t see each other much anymore. Unfortunately, for a short while after the birthday party I was praying that Mary’s mother had forgiven me due to having driven me to the party, and that things would return to normal. I recall trying to see Mary a bit more than usual, but things didn’t snap back.

I saw Mary sporadically (it was harder and harder to catch her!), and only found out that she’d moved when I went to her house one day and someone else came out saying that they were the new owners. I later went to a little store Mary’s mother had owned so I could find out where they went, but she had apparently sold it and none of the new employees knew who she was. That was the end of things.

I did see Mary once more years later. She was a late arrival at my high school and spotted me (she was a Freshman, I was a Sophomore). We said a few words, but I felt funny and uncomfortable around her. She was so different to me by this point and I still felt shamed by her mother. Strangely, despite it being a school of only about 400 students, I never saw her again after our brief re-introduction!

I’ve often wondered what was going through her mother’s mind that day we were out all night, but I’ve never figured it out. The fact that she punished an 8 year old girl due to her mistake and ruined her daughter’s friendship due to it boggles me. She was never somebody who seemed to be excessively prideful, but somehow this incident hit a nerve of hers. 0109-11

{ 69 comments… add one }
  • Mojo May 18, 2017, 4:17 am

    It goes to show there’s always more going on in people’s lives than we know about. A friendly person turns difficult, and you’ll never know why. At least as adults we can look back and forgive the hurtful actions of adults to children.

  • Everyone's Aunty May 18, 2017, 5:13 am

    I’ve been in this very same, strange situation – except I was the “mary”! At age 14, my best friend of two years lived a three hour drive away. My family just so happened to be staying in her town for a couple of nights so we picked her up from herror dad’s in the morning with the promise she would be home in the early afternoon (he only saw her every second weekend )
    She came with us and was my source of entertainment as my mum and stepfather visited friend after friend after friend… it started to get late in the day but the visiting continued and both of us were getting anxious about the time.
    I tried to mention to mum it was getting late and friend’s dad would be waiting for her (stepdad had a phone but mum didn’t know how to use it and he couldn’t have cared less)
    Dinner was had at yet another friend’s place and poor friend was dropped home around 9pm with a half-hearted apology from parents.
    What I couldn’t understand was why they didn’t just take her home when they agreed, it was a small town that took no longer than 15 minutes from one end to the other!
    Poor friend was grounded for two weeks though it was completely out of her control.
    My story has a happy ending though – 18 years later, we are still besties at age 32, despite the odd parents we were blessed with!

    • Everyone's Aunty May 18, 2017, 7:37 pm

      Whoops sorry guys, just re-read this and realised how wordy and hard to follow my story is!

      • Darshiva May 20, 2017, 11:02 pm

        I followed it just fine.

        And grounding your friend, when she was stuck, and unable to get home on time, was just silly. I suppose her parents meant for her to just say, “Well, since you won’t take me home, I’ll just walk across town by myself.” Well, if it was a safe town, and they had walked all over it themselves, at that age, maybe they did. But even so, it was silly to ground her. And for two whole weeks! They could have simply told her, “Next time, just walk home.” Or made sure she always had cab fare.

  • lkb May 18, 2017, 6:11 am

    I just wonder if the OP has asked her own parents about it. Sounds like they talked to the Mom about it. Maybe they had some insight they could share with the OP because of the OP’s age or maybe they gained some insight in the intervening years.

    I had a somewhat similar situation: I had been bullied by a classmate. At one time my parents talked with the classmate’s mom and it became clear to them that she “had issues.” I have no memory of such a meeting and it wasn’t mentioned again until years after the fact. (I was fairly clueless during my growing up years so I could have simply forgotten it.)

  • Cleosia May 18, 2017, 7:37 am

    I hear no mention of your friend’s father. Since her mother sold the house and the store, I’m wondering if she was getting divorced and was a little bit odd because of it. It was obvious something major was going on. I suspect she was lashing out at everyone that impacted on her awareness. Unfortunately, a little 8-year-old was one of the things that she felt added to her pile.

    You didn’t deserve this but I suspect you were the topic of many complaints to your friend and that may be why you saw less and less of her. It may have been easier not to defend you and to cut ties so she didn’t become the focus of her mother’s ire. Sorry you lost your friend. You were both innocent in all this.

    • NostalgicGal May 18, 2017, 5:38 pm

      I’m betting on this one. Sorry you had to take the brunt of it OP

    • Miss-E May 20, 2017, 9:09 am

      “Mary’s parent’s were separated for a while, so no one would have answered their home phone if my family called.”

      Sounds like they were already apart at least. Seems really bizarre that even if there was drama in Mary’s mother’s life that should would take it out an on 8-year-old. Or that her attitude towards the OP would change on a dime like that.

  • Huh May 18, 2017, 8:13 am

    OP, just because your mom didn’t say anything to you doesn’t mean she and Mary’s mom didn’t talk. Huh Jr. went over once to visit a friend (someone she had visited several times before) and I came back to pick her up at the agreed upon time to find the two young elementary school kids alone and the mom gone! I collected Huh Jr. and we left. The next day, the friend’s mom called and told me that she had went over to the neighbors to watch TV, and that her older child had stayed with the kids. (I knew there was an older sibling, but I never met them.) I’m very non-confrontational so I didn’t act like anything was amiss, I just mentally made the decision there’d be no more playdates there. (The thing that always got me – she knew when I was coming back, why wouldn’t she be back before I was, or at least tell me that the older kid was going to supervise?)

    Friend never called for another playdate again and the friendship faded out. All I can figure out is mom decided I was mad or felt bad/embarassed.

    • saucygirl May 18, 2017, 12:40 pm

      I get that not every one parents the same way, and am fine with that, but it amazes me when people do something that is not considered the norm with someone else’s child. One time I went to take my daughter to a friends for a playdate. When I showed up the mom told me that she had been called in to work, but it was fine because her father – who I had never met and who didn’t speak English, which was the only language my 6 year old spoke – would stay with them. Um, no. Another time my mil was suppose to watch my daughter (who was three at the time). I found out the day before that she planned on leaving for a couple hours and leaving my daughter with her sil. Who is legally blind and deaf, and visiting, so not only was my THREE YEAR OLD not familiar with her, but the sil wasn’t familiar with the house. Which had a soundless sliding door that my daughter could easily open and a pool. Again, no.

  • LR May 18, 2017, 8:35 am

    That is a very odd situation, and I’m sorry it upset you so much.

    I’m guessing that there was probably some interaction between the parents that you may not have been aware of. Perhaps Mary’s mom didn’t explain the late return, or her reasons weren’t satisfactory, and your parents asked her not to let you tag along anymore? I think that if something similar had happened with my child, I would have decreed that Mary’s mom was not to take you anywhere without out my prior permission. Perhaps something like that caused coldness toward you?

    I also feel for Mary in this situation. Her mom sounds a little flighty and impulsive, which must have been difficult to grow up with.

  • JD May 18, 2017, 8:49 am

    Well that’s weird. Who keeps two young children out that late on a school night, and with no warning? I’m guessing the OP’s mom did say something to Mary’s mom, perhaps out of the hearing of the kids, and that’s why Mary’s mom was so angry with OP. Maybe not, but I’m thinking of my own mother, who would have definitely told Mary’s mom that she was in the wrong. Maybe Mary’s mom acted like she was sorry and that all would be fine to OP’s mom, but was secretly furious and took it out on the OP. Other than that I have no idea what she was doing!

  • vineyard May 18, 2017, 10:07 am

    I completely don’t understand how this is etiquette related???

    • Lena May 18, 2017, 1:59 pm

      One could argue its poor etiquette to keep a child out later than normal with out offering to have her confirm with her mother that it’s ok.
      It’s also bad manners to get angry with a child who is ill, for being ill.

      I get that this is an etiquette site, but the admin chose to post the story.

      One may also argue it would be good manners to keep ones feeling about whether the post is appropriate for the board or not, since it’s a painful personal memory that admin felt fit to post.

      • bellini May 19, 2017, 6:24 am

        This isn’t a post from the admin’s life, Lena – it’s a submission.

      • admin May 19, 2017, 7:58 am

        That’s not my memory nor personal story.

        As for etiquette-related, everything in life that is rude, insensitive, unkind, awkward, bizarre, selfish, confounding, irritating, annoying, troubling, etc., etc. is an etiquette issue.

        • Lena May 19, 2017, 5:44 pm

          Sorry, I didn’t actually think it was a post from admins life. I thought admin had read it and thought it was fit to post.
          Meaning the person who chooses the stories to post, thought it was suitable for this site.

    • TakohamoOlsen2 May 19, 2017, 5:24 am

      Etiquette related probably because Mary’s mother didn’t call OP’s mother to let her know what time OP would be home or where they were going.

    • admin May 19, 2017, 7:59 am

      You cannot figure out how lack of communication is an etiquette issue? Or presumptions? Or simply being so preoccupied with activities Mom lacks any concern for a child in her care?

    • jokergirl129 May 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

      It’s an etiquette issue because Mary’s mother kept OP for a few hours longer than was normal (and on a school night no less) with no warning and without talking to OP’s parents first. And because afterwards Mary’s mother got angry at the OP for no clear reason and treated her coldly afterwards which then affected OP’s friendship with Mary.

      Plus I’m sure it can be an etiquette issue when you cause unneeded stress to someone else. Like how the OP was confused about why she wasn’t driven home at the usual time and was getting stressed out about being kept so late. I’m sure that OP’s parents were getting stressed out and worried too about why their daughter wasn’t brought home much sooner. I know if I were a parent and my kid wasn’t brought home at the regular time and instead kept out hours later without my knowledge I would be getting very worried. Especially if I was unable to reach them.

      • A different Tracy May 22, 2017, 7:23 am

        To me, calling this an etiquette issue is like saying it’s rude to walk up to a stranger and punch them in the face. Yes, it is rude, but the rudeness is so far from being the most important part of it that it seems odd to tag it as a “rude” thing.

  • bellini May 18, 2017, 10:31 am

    It’s time to let this go, OP. This isn’t an etiquette situation – it’s a personal one. If this is before the time of cell phones and playdates (and helicopter parenting? it seems like you could have used a little in this situation) perhaps you could discuss this with a therapist, and move on from it.

    • Anonymous May 18, 2017, 1:41 pm

      No, I think this is an etiquette situation, at least partly. There’s the etiquette of how to treat other people’s children (from Mary’s mother’s point of view), how to be a good host, albeit one by proxy (from Mary’s point of view), how to be a good guest (from the OP’s point of view), how to keep to a previously-agreed-upon schedule (again, Mary’s mother), explicit versus implicit expectations (everyone), and how to politely assert oneself when things go wrong. The OP was kept out too late on a school night, and not fed dinner during dinner time (which is another etiquette issue), but she didn’t want to speak up, because she wanted to be a good guest, and not be “rude” to Mary’s mother. OP was eight years old at the time, and she had likely learned politeness before assertiveness, and not yet learned how to practice the two things together. So, regardless of what came of this situation, or why it happened in the first place (like, if Mary’s parents were getting divorced), I can see a lot of etiquette issues here.

    • Lisa Lee May 18, 2017, 3:55 pm

      That was harsh, bellini. Agree it’s not really etiquette related but your comments were over the top.

      • bellini May 19, 2017, 6:26 am

        I disagree. I also disagree that this is the place to discuss a painful childhood memory that clearly is still bothering the OP after what seems like many years. There are ways to deal with that, that will help them to deal with what happened and to move on from it. No shame in therapy.

        • Lerah99 May 19, 2017, 9:37 am

          I think you can have little mysteries from your childhood that you occasionally wonder about without needing therapy.

          I had a teacher in middle school who flat disappeared one day. She didn’t show up. They called in a sub. Four days later the principal came in and said “Oh, uhhhhhh, we found a resignation letter on her desk under some other paperwork. She had a health issue and needs to focus on that. So stop having your parents call the office trying to find out what happened to Mrs. Smith.”

          And over 20 years later I sometimes wonder, what actually happened to that lady and why did the principal tell us such a ridiculous lie about finding a resignation letter on her desk days later?

          Wondering about that doesn’t mean I have some unresolved tragic feelings over the incident. It just means that I’m a curious person who occasionally remembers it and thinks “Huh, that was really weird. I wonder what the real story was.”

          And I think the same can be said of the OP’s letter.
          As an adult looking back she’s saying “This whole incident was really weird and still doesn’t make any sense to me. I wonder what my friend’s mom was thinking and why that all rolled out the way it did.”

        • Kate May 19, 2017, 10:28 am

          This is admin’s website, and she chose to post it, so clearly this is the place.

        • Ergala May 19, 2017, 2:30 pm

          Bellini you are coming off as incredibly hostile. I do not see the OP dwelling on anything. The admin can post what she pleases. If you do not agree with the content I am sure there are other forums/blogs that would perhaps suit you better.

          • Bellini May 25, 2017, 9:30 am

            I am not hostile, and your interpretation of my words says more about you than it does about me. If the admin dislikes my comments as much as you do , she is free to delete them, just as I am free to make them until told otherwise. This is the first post *ever *after several years of reading and commenting on this site that seemed an awkward fit to me, and I said so. If that is so bothersome to you, perhaps you yourself might relocate.

        • jokergirl129 May 19, 2017, 2:41 pm

          bellini I think you are being kind of harsh about the situation. Just because OP shared this story with us doesn’t mean she needs therapy for it. Yes it’s clear it had a big impact on her because it affected her friendship for the worse but that doesn’t mean it bothers her so much throughout her life that she needs to go and get therapy for it. I’m sure we’ve all experience something like this at one point in our lives. Something that affected us greatly (for better or worse) and became a story to tell.

          Also this can be considered an etiquette issue because of the way Mary’s mother acted. She didn’t drive OP back home at the usual time and instead kept her out late while visiting friends and family. Hence causing unneeded stress and confusion to the OP and possibly to OP’s parents. Then Mary’s mother got mad at OP for no clear reason and treated her coldly afterwards to the point where OP’s friendship with Mary suffered before ending.

          All of that is an etiquette issue because Mary’s mother changed plans and kept OP out really late without letting OP’s mother know beforehand. She got mad at OP for no good reason and treated her badly afterwards. I don’t know if Mary’s mother was going through something in her life but if she was she had no right to take it out on OP which would be another etiquette issue itself. Basically this story showed how the mother’s actions affected everyone (especially OP) greatly in the negative.

        • Thel May 19, 2017, 3:17 pm

          I believe there are several ettiquete issues here, and admin helpfully points them out in a reply to another comment above. As for therapy, indeed there is no shame in it if it is required, but I think that musing on a friend’s mum’s strange reaction and wondering what others might think hardly qualifes as reasons to see a therapist. I would steer clear of armchair psychology and focus on the etiquette side of the story.

          On that note, I highly suspect (as others have mentioned) that OP’s mum probably wasn’t too keen herself on leaving OP with such an unreliable caretaker. A child under your charge is your guest, and a particularly vulnerable one. Mary’s mum should have cut the visit short when it was getting late and take her young guest home, or at the very least she should have let OP’s parents know they were running late in case they wanted to pick her up. It reminds me of the “Training your kids to be social pariahs” post from a few days ago, since the selfish and uncaring behaviour of Mary’s mum sadly brought about the end of a friendship.

        • crebj May 20, 2017, 7:49 am

          I agree.

      • Dee May 19, 2017, 11:54 am

        I don’t think bellini’s advice was harsh. It wasn’t critical of OP’s character, simply advice that bellini thought could help OP stop dwelling on this event. I’m not sure I agree with the advice – the event obviously is something OP feels strongly about and felt she needed to air here, for others to comment on, so maybe that helps her? On the other hand, if she’s bothered by it all these years later then maybe therapy would be helpful, as bellini said. In either case, I don’t see how bellini’s advice is any different from the other comments – it’s just an opinion, based on experience and personality. As in pretty much all comments made to this site, there are probably parts of it that are relevant and parts that don’t fit.

        • Bloo May 20, 2017, 1:27 pm

          There is a definite tone from Bellini’s post that does *not* come across as a helpful suggestion to get therapy. I read condescension and irritation that the post is even on this site.
          There is nothing about the OP that strikes me as someone in need of therapy while they muse about a situation in their past.

          • Dee May 22, 2017, 1:46 am

            bellini’s tone is plain and outright. I prefer that to mincing around a subject so much that the advice is watered down to meet “politically correct” standards. I do, however, find some of the criticisms of bellini to be really nasty, particularly Ergala’s. bellini and admin share the same style; admin doesn’t beat around the bush either. The reaction to bellini seems to be straight out of high school. I don’t understand why commenters can’t disagree without going on the attack. Makes no sense to me.

      • rindlrad May 19, 2017, 1:28 pm

        I have to agree with Anonymous – this is an etiquette issue. That it happened in the past when the OP was a child doesn’t make it less so.

        1 – Friend’s mother takes a child that is not her own on a car trip around town to various destinations without permission from that child’s parents, late into the night, on a school night. Etiquette concern (among other things).

        2 – Friend’s mother, having taken child with her at dinner time, does not see that the child is fed. Etiquette concern.

        3 – Friend’s mother keeps child that is not her own out late at night and then throws a passive-aggressive, hissy fit when the child finally makes her need to return home known. Etiquette concern. Etiquette concern.

        4 – Friend’s mother, having behaved in a completely inappropriate manner, instead of giving the child and her parent(s) an apology, treats the child like the entire episode is the child’s fault and ruins the friendship between her daughter and the child. Etiquette concern.

  • Kay_L May 18, 2017, 10:45 am

    I think Mary’s mom was wrapped up in her own problems and used you as a distraction for her own daughter. The second she had to be a responsible adult and change her plans to take care of you, you were more of a burden than an asset.

    I would chalk up the fact that she would typically bring you home at a reasonable time to it being the habits of their family at the time and not because she was being responsible in looking after you. When her habits changed, she didn’t give your needs a second thought. She apparently didn’t give her daughters’ needs a second thought.

    So, I wouldn’t take it personally. She was just very self involved and using you.

    As a child you had the insight to know that her not taking you home on time or getting you a meal was terribly wrong. You just didn’t have the heart to think that it could be because she was just a selfish person. You saw her as a respected friend. She saw you as a babysitter.

    I could be wrong. I simply offer this as an alternative perspective.

    • Darshiva May 20, 2017, 11:20 pm

      I think you’re right, Kay. Mary’s mother was breaking from her routine, probably due to the separation, and quite possibly the decision to divorce. She probably felt the need to talk about it with all her friends and family (possibly getting advice, but more likely getting emotional and/or financial support, and possibly even drumming up witnesses for a divorce trial – if this was before no-fault divorce became the big thing).

      Since she was so busy and focused on her own issues, she didn’t want to have to deal with her daughter’s issues, such as her daughter needing dinner (I mean, the OP doesn’t mention Mary getting a meal either, does she?), and her daughter needing to be home in time for bed, let alone her daughter being kept occupied and out of trouble. OP, you were there to keep Mary occupied, out of trouble, and to distract Mary from any of her needs, such as food, sleep, and possibly homework, so that Mary’s Mother could basically ignore you, except for those brief periods of putting you into and taking you out of the car. You were, in effect, the free babysitter, and when you “fell down on the job,” she was angry at you because of it. Not guilty. She was too selfish for that. Nope. She was mad at you for failing in your “duty” to take care of her own child.

      Her etiquette was awful. Mary’s wasn’t so good either, but she was a child, and obviously had not been taught better. Possibly, she’d even been taught that when Mother is in one of these moods, you walk on eggshells, and don’t ask for food. You were trying to be polite (yay, you!), but had not yet learned how to have a polite spine, and not let people walk all over you, in the name of manners. All of that etiquette fail added up to a shattered friendship, and that is a real pity.

      On the plus side, I’m sure you learned a lot from this experience, both in how to treat your own guests, and in the importance of polite assertiveness, and taking care of your own needs.

  • Cora May 18, 2017, 10:51 am

    I have to wonder if Mary’s mom was presuming that if you would have known to call home yourself and get one of your parents to pick you up. Which is passive-aggressive BS, of course; but it would explain getting resentful that she “had” to tow you around. You know, just stewing away in “WHY doesn’t just CALL her mom herself?!??” Instead of actually saying something to you, like a functional adult.

    More to the point, why does this still bother you so much thirty years later?

    • Anon May 18, 2017, 4:49 pm

      I can totally imagine Mary’s mom thinking that, I just don’t understand how anyone would think that. I mean you don’t just go and take a child who isn’t yours somewhere where their parent doesn’t know where they are without telling that parent first.

    • Darshiva May 20, 2017, 11:22 pm

      I’m not thinking this is really bothering the OP so much 30 years later. Probably, she was just thinking “I’d like to contribute to this site. Huh. Here’s a story I have rattling around in the story bin, and I’ll bet the admin and commenters would have something interesting to say about it.”

      Frankly, I think a lot of the stories we get, particularly the ones that happened in the past for the OP, are that kind of thing. The OP isn’t asking for advice, but sharing a story for commentary, and the possibility that the admin will turn it into a lesson for her readers.

  • kingsrings May 18, 2017, 12:09 pm

    I experienced something similar with an elementary school best friend named Heidi. Heidi would come over for a play date, but her parents never checked in on her or seemed to care how long she was over at my house, so she would just stay there until my mom became alarmed that Heidi’s parents weren’t making sure she was home. This would be at the early evening time, when most kids head home. She would drive Heidi home herself then because she didn’t want her to walk or bike home in the dark. And my own time over at Heidi’s house for a play date we went swimming even though her parents weren’t watching us and actually left the house completely during our visit. I got into big trouble with my mom when I came home because I’d stayed there too late. My mom was also very upset that Heidi’s parents allowed us to go swimming unattended and even left us there alone. Heidi moved away shortly after and I ran into and became friends with her again in junior high. Her mom was then in recovery by that time – she’d been a substance abuser, which explained why Heidi had such free reign in her life.

  • Wendy B May 18, 2017, 2:38 pm

    I’m an only child. My parents would have been on the phone to the police…I’d say Mary’s mom got off easy.
    In a way, though, it is etiquette related. The polite and correct thing to do is to keep in touch with the other parents and tell them what was going on. Mary’s mom not only didn’t do that, she apparently took out her inability to take responsibility on two children.

    OP, I can’t blame you for replaying this over and over in your head, even years later. Talk with your parents and see if there was an additional part to the story you don’t know about. That, at least, might let you put it to rest in your mind.

    • Purple Penguin May 19, 2017, 8:55 am

      Same here — my parents would have been calling the police as well if I wasn’t home by 7 or 8PM with no explanation.

  • Heather May 18, 2017, 3:27 pm

    I don’t understand why some have questioned why the OP still thinks about this 30 years later. Certain situations that happen in childhood stay with us. It isn’t the fact that it is 30 years ago… it’s because it happened at that time in the OP’s life. And this site is for breaches in and questions about etiquette. Why do some care how long ago it was? And for those who think this isn’t an etiquette story; while it may also be more than that, I certainly think there is an etiquette question when someone just refuses to acknowledge the simple politeness of letting a parent know about where and when they are with their child. While the OP’s parents may not have exactly been panicking — after all, they knew this woman — they may have been concerned about accidents, etc. OP, I hear you. It was so very odd… and eventually beyond etiquette. But you were 8 and it’s horrible that you were meant to feel shame and hurt for this.

    • Cora May 19, 2017, 12:42 pm

      Oh, good Lord, Heather, untwist your shorts. I am the “some” who asked why OP is still hurt by this, as a genuine question, not a shaming tactic. Getting to the “why” behind writing a dozen paragraphs to an internet stranger could really help her, either by prompting her to sit down and really think about it and untangle some stuff, or by prompting her to get counseling, whatever she decides she needs.

      • Amanda H. May 20, 2017, 9:58 am

        Calm down, Cora. You’re not the only one who’s questioned why OP is still hurt by this, and others have perhaps been less about “why are you still hurt, so we can get to the bottom of this” and more “you should seek therapy because you remembered an upsetting incident from childhood.”

      • Bloo May 20, 2017, 1:31 pm

        It’s really not typical for this site or the forum for commenters and posters to address each other this way, Cora.

    • jokergirl129 May 19, 2017, 2:54 pm

      I’m confused about why people are having issues with the OP telling this story too. Why does it matter that it happened years ago? The point is that this was a confusing moment in the OP’s childhood that had a big affect on her because it caused her friendship with Mary to end. After all it would be confusing for any kid to be kept out much later than normal without being told about it first and getting stressed out because they know they parents wouldn’t know about it and fear getting in trouble. Adding to that stress and confusion is your friend’s mother getting angry at you for some reason and then treating you completely differently afterwards and you having no real clue as to why.

      Also etiquette wise isn’t it considered rude to change plans on a whim without letting someone know about those changes? Especially if those changes concern keeping a child out much later than normal without calling the parents to let them know what is going on and causing unneeded stress and worry? And wouldn’t it be considered rude to take your issues out on someone that had nothing to do with said issues? Especially an innocent child?

      Frankly I think this story fits in just fine on here. OP isn’t the first person on this site to recall an event that happen years ago in their life. Plus Admin posted this story on here so she must think this story fits on here too.

    • Jenny May 21, 2017, 7:40 am

      It’s not hard at all to figure out why this would stick with the OP so strongly – it was scary.

      Something vaguely similar happened to me when I was 6 or so – we had a substitute bus driver and he took us to the wrong place. We told him repeatedly that we didn’t live there and he accused of of lying. This went on for hours – I don’t know why he didn’t radio back or take us back to school, but we were all kindergarteners (half day bus) and it was scary. My mom still remembers being terrified that we weren’t home and the school didn’t know where we were.

      I remember that incident more strongly than a lot of stuff that happened even years later. Scary stuff stays.

      • Amanda H. May 22, 2017, 12:46 am

        Wow, that does sound scary. What ended up happening?

  • Lacey May 18, 2017, 6:09 pm

    Why are people telling the OP the story shouldn’t be here? It’s etiquette-related and this isn’t an advice column, it just happens that sometimes people ask for advice. I like reading these types of stories, where someone just is completely unreasonable. They’re entertaining.

    • paddy May 19, 2017, 12:04 pm

      i agree. can the people who disagree with the OP not “getting over it” or who disagree with admin posting the story just drop out of the discussion? that would allow those of us who are getting something out of the discussion to actually talk about the story.

      we’re here to talk etiquette. so if you don’t like this particular discussion, move on to the next story.

  • Ketchup May 18, 2017, 6:57 pm

    My daughter was you. She had a friend two doors down, they were both 3 and later 4. Obviously, living so close to each other they became friends and played together. Often at her house. Not ours.

    I never felt okay with letting her play alone there because her mother wasn’t very clear in whether it was okay. It turned out the mother was nuts. Off her rocker. I asked what was going on and got a vague answer about privacy and that she had a hard time telling people what she wanted…

    All of a sudden Celine didn’t come over anymore, and was never available. Then months later she came again for a week or so. My daughter was thrilled and things seemed okay. But after a week, Celine didn’t come anymore.

    That wasn’t all though. Celine started taunting my innocent girl about having a trampoline and keeping it all to herself, neener neener, noticeably with her mother’s approval. A few weeks later they moved away.

    A year and a half has passed and we’ve realised that our girl has been traumatised by it all. She will panic when friends walk away from her. She’ll start crying. Even if they’re just going inside to pee or something. She’ll think and say they don’t want to be friends anymore.

    Right now, I’m actually worried because her new friend (also neighbour) is mean to her too and doesn’t want to play together anymore. Luckily, now she has more friends and seems to handling it okay with support from us.

    I often wonder what’s happened to Celine. Her mother always treated her more like a fashion accessory and actively ruined our daughters’ friendship.

    Op, I’m sorry that happened to you. ? Truly sorry. At least you know it wasn’t you. People do the weirdest things sometimes.

    • Kate May 19, 2017, 10:34 am

      Hi Ketchup,

      I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your daughter. I was bullied by a friend as a child and it still affects me sometimes. Like if I hear two people I know whispering, I become afraid they are talking about me.

      A very helpful book about girls being bullied by their friends is “Odd Girl Out”.

      • Ketchup May 20, 2017, 4:10 pm

        Thank you. If it persists I will find that book.

    • Bea May 19, 2017, 1:49 pm

      It breaks my heart hearing about your daughter’s experience. I hope that with a parent who sees this going on she will have an easier time over coming her insecurities that are popping up.

      I had struggles with other kids ditching me for a variety of reasons, including mean girls bullying my friends into ditching me at times. It’s traumatic and i’ve still got scars that I carry. I didn’t trust many until deep into adulthood. I feel like many who think “it was so long ago, just move on” were the same mean kids who shunned me back then.

      • Amanda H. May 20, 2017, 10:12 am

        I feel like many who think “it was so long ago, just move on,” either didn’t have an incident in their past that upset them a whole lot (to the point of sticking with them YEARS later), or are some of the lucky ones who really CAN move on and just don’t understand that others have a harder time of it (while still not necessarily needing therapy to “get over it,” just a chance to vent or maybe ask what others think.

        I’ve got a few instances from my past that upset me, that felt really unfair and hurt me emotionally. My husband kind of rolls his eyes good-naturedly and says, “yes, I know Honey,” when I bring one up in conversation. But he understands that while some of those situations may seem mundane or not worth dwelling on, he also understands that he didn’t have issues with insecurity like I did or have to deal with people in authority clearly showing clear favoritism.

      • Ketchup May 20, 2017, 4:14 pm

        Both of us were bullied ourselves. We’re absolutely keeping our eyes open for everything. And we give her the love and safe basis that makes her trust us so she can tell us.

        I’m teaching her to focus on other girls and to see through the behaviour of bullies.

    • jokergirl129 May 19, 2017, 2:57 pm

      I’m so sorry that happened to your daughter. That was really sad and I’m sorry it had a really negative impact on her. Hopefully she’ll be okay especially since you said she has more friends now.

      • Ketchup May 20, 2017, 4:16 pm

        I think she will be. I’m actually inviting all her friends these weeks. I’m flooding her with friendship. Washing away the pain with fun and friends.

        • jokergirl129 May 22, 2017, 1:28 pm

          That sounds like a good idea. I’m sure she’ll have fun with her friends and with anything you have planned.

  • JJ May 19, 2017, 11:14 am

    Even if Mary’s mother was going through issues and clearly she was from the sounds of it with the sudden moving, no mention of Mary’s father being around etc it doesn’t make it right for her to use her child’s friend like that. Then get mad at a young child for getting antsy or upset when they are out past their bed time and haven’t eaten in awhile. I grew up in the 80’s/90’s when cell phones weren’t really a thing either and my parents would have thought it crazy if another friends parents hadn’t called them to let my parents know that they were staying out later with me or my siblings. My parents would be worried and want to know why they weren’t asked permission before the other parent just took off with us till very late into the evening. I consider being out at 11:30 or so at night with a 7 or 8 year old who isn’t your very late indeed and inaproppriate without permission from the childs parents.

    I also think it’s very sad that she took her issues out on you, a child, by being cold and stand offish to you for the rest of your childhood friendship years with Mary. Sure she was probably going through issues or could have had emotional/pyschological things going on at the time but I can’t understand why she’d cold shoulder a little kid who she was once very friendly and open with until the late night travel incident. Even for back in the day when childhood was different and not monitered via social media and cell phones my parents would still be livid and concerned that their kid was kept out late at night driving around with no warning. And if their kid felt sick at that and was upset they’d be even more upset that Mary’s mom did nothing about it and was angry insead at a small child. You just don’t do that when it’s anyone else’s kid but your own.

  • Ashley May 19, 2017, 3:15 pm

    I remember when I was a kid, I was afraid of accidentally angering anyone else’s parents because then we might not be able to hang out any more. So I would have had a hard time speaking up and asking what was going on or asking for a ride home, or even to use the phone to call my parents.

    I have to wonder why OP’s mom thought it was okay to keep a kid out that late on a school night. Thank goodness for cell phones making it easier to stay in touch now.

  • Rebecca May 19, 2017, 10:49 pm

    I’m guessing the mother had some kind of mental health issue. Otherwise it’s just too odd to go from being a nice, friendly mom who takes her daughter’s best friend everywhere (an arrangement my bestie and I had with our two moms growing up as well) to dragging two 8-year-olds out till 11 PM on a school night and not a word to the other mom. And the subsequent weird behaviour.

    And yes, my mother would have been calling the police.

  • Twik May 21, 2017, 5:51 pm

    I have no problem seeing this as an etiquette issue. As for “dwelling on it,” I find it’s a most peculiar story, and can see why it would stick with a child. I was very glad to see that it ended without anything horrible happening (beyond an adult acting very strangely).

    You could ask *any* poster on here why they bothered to submit their story instead of just forgetting about it. I don’t think it shows anything that requires therapy to submit personal stories to a site that solicits such stories.

  • BagLady May 21, 2017, 6:00 pm

    Just because someone chooses to submit or post a story about something that happened many years ago doesn’t mean s/he “is still dwelling on it/needs to let it go/needs to seek therapy.” We all have memories of questionable events in our past, from before there was such a thing as an etiquette site. It’s natural to revisit those events and now that we have access to an etiquette site, to broach the questions about whether this was an etiquette issue.

    And this most definitely was. Keeping a child out past her bedtime on a school night, and giving her the cold shoulder because she or her parents dared to question that, is poor manners.

  • Shalamar May 22, 2017, 2:26 pm

    I’d bet money that OP’s mom called Mary’s mom and tore her a new one. That would explain the coldness. I used to have a friend, “Katie”, whose mother absolutely hated my parents, and by proxy, also hated me.

  • AJE February 16, 2018, 8:44 am

    When I was in elementary school my cousin and I were in the same class. I remember one day parents came to pick up their kids. Sometimes I went home with my cousin- which we were allowed to do with a note from parents. One day my mom didn’t say “You’re going home with your cousin” and they didn’t seem to know either. In any case my cousin got up, gave me a wave and got in the car with his mom and drove away. I sat, wondering where my Mom was.

    They finally called her to come get me, well after the day was over. I remember her asking why I didn’t go home with my cousin and I just responded, “I didn’t have a note…” but it was more than that… she hadn’t told me to and my cousin and his mom didn’t seem to know either.

    I still have no real explanation. Except like this, I often wonder why parents don’t tell kids what is going on. It’s highly stressful for a child to not have control over being able to go to their home when they need to.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.