Do you play into the world of social classes? More important, do you play your children into it?
Here's the scenario:
Junior gets invited to a classmate's birthday party. You know the child, but only know the mom by sight (from a couple of school functions). What little you do know about the family is that there are three to five kids, multiple fathers, no husband, and no one seems to be employed.
Now, here's the question:
Do you let Junior go to the party? If not, why not? If so, under what conditions, if any?
This scenario is one I was faced with very recently -- an hour in Mommy Hell. For the record: My own family is very clearly working class, blue collar -- by "social class," I don't mean whether you come from a six-digit vs. a seven-digit income. The area we live in is one of the poorest counties in the state.
I decided to let him go to the party. My gut reaction was "No way!" but I really don’t want to be like that. Who am I to say that his classmate's family is not as good as mine – how arrogant! So we went and, as I have many times before, I stayed for the party, too – I am not going to just drop him off at a total stranger’s house, be it a hellhole or the Taj Mahal.
I don’t think the host expected me to stay, but she was certainly cordial about it. As we walked in the house we were met with "BEWARE OF DOG" signs – really set the mood for a relaxing afternoon! A rottwieller was locked in the back room and two more dogs were in a pen out front (which we were instructed not to go near). Not really a problem, for me -- I used to have a Doberman who, for whatever reason, hated small children (we gave her up for adoption to a family with no kids and a full disclosure, when my niece was born. But, I digress).
Aside from the signs, my first impression was an immediate smell – old smoke, animal smells, just dirty smelling. OK. I stepped three feet in and sat on the chair close to the door where I could have full view of the kids. Playing on the 52-inch wide-screen TV was "Cleopatra" -- not exactly what I would deem an age appropriate movie for 5- to 8-year-olds. There were about 15 kids there (and, I realized later, at least 10 of them were somehow related to the b-day girl). I watched as the boys played basketball by punching choking to get the ball from one another, the girls had "light sabers" with which they were hitting each other, and the younger kids tried to dodge it all.