Eden M. Kennedy

mission accomplished, pal

Eden M. Kennedy is the co-author (with Alice Bradley) of the book Let's Panic About Babies! (St. Martin's Press, 2011).

A former college-radio DJ, Mrs. Kennedy has driven cross-country six times in a 1973 Volkswagen Bug and enjoys standing on her head.

Currently she works a straight job and is just about finished writing her first novel.

The Fussy Way

Time to open the mail bag!

Well, it's more of a mail lunch sack. At any rate, it's a rare and glorious occasion when someone finally realizes that their own instincts are hideously unreliable and they must look to me for parenting guidance. And so I put on my humble sackcloth, radiant halo, and fake beard* and bid them come unto me**.

Hello Mrs. Kennedy!

I have five-year-old son who goes to daycare with a kid that I'm not so sure about, if you know what I mean. This kid taught my son the middle finger salute, and also informed him that "Burglars usually go to hell. It's God's choice." Now the inevitable has happened: the note from this kid's mom asking to set up a play date at their house. What does one do in these situations??

Maureen

*Or sometimes I just wear the beard and some flip flops.
**You know, once in awhile. It's not my regular gig.

Well, Maureen, here's one option: you could arrange your schedule so that you won't have to run into this woman at pick-up or drop-off times, which would give you ample time to pretend you never saw the note. Or make a tentative date with her and then cancel a polite day in advance, and then cancel every subsequent date until she gets frustrated and gives up.

Procrastination and avoidance is, after all, The Fussy Way.

But just for fun let's actually think this through. We can assume that someone in this child's family is teaching this boy the hard line on judgment, eternal reward, and endless punishment. We have no idea who taught him how to flip the bird, but you can bet he knows his mom wouldn't like it.

One: Do you want your son exposed to people whose beliefs do not, apparently, mirror yours? That's a hard one. Certainly we can socialize with people without being in philosophical lockstep with them, as long as you both are open to developing either a mutally respectful or a hilariously meanspirited dialogue about your differences.

Two: But what does your son want to do? Does he like this kid? Does he want to spend time with him outside of school? If he does, you could choose to suck it up for awhile and hang until you can get a better sense of how the bird flipper and his family operate.

The nice thing is that at this age many kids are moving in and out of friendships fairly quickly, and subtly guiding your son away from someone who makes you uncomfortable probably wouldn't be that difficult, and if your son is as weirded out as you are you're free to start making shit up. In true Fussy spirit, you'll find something to tell his mom that resembles the truth but gets you off the hook pretty much permanently without hurting her feelings. (You're so busy with after-school harpsichord-building classes, after all.)

I think the bottom line, though, is that if you think ANY kid is no good for your child, you shouldn't feel a shred of guilt about keeping your son away from him.

Uh, that makes sense, right?

Comments, please.