So, we had a small – barely worth mentioning – miscommunication in domestic arrangements last weekend.
On Friday, Flea’s Dad was picking her up from school and keeping her until Sunday morning, when he would drop her off at stage school, and I’d collect her in time to take her to a family lunch for my parents’ anniversary.
Now, I don’t often get a Friday night off. So I was a bit excited and had all sorts of plans. There might even have been a plan to go into a proper restaurant. At night, and everything.
Until the phone went at 4pm and it was Flea’s Dad.
Who unexpectedly found himself standing outside the school with Flea and her best friend – who was carrying a sleeping bag.
Apparently the two of them had cooked up a plan for a sleepover between them, and convinced the best friend’s Mum that I knew all about it. Flea’s best friend regularly stays over with us, so it wouldn’t had seemed like a big deal to the other Mum, I’m sure.
“What do you want me to do?” asked the ex.
“Wait there and I’ll come and collect them both,” I sighed, watching my weekend plans go up in smoke.
Why did I feel I had to collect the girls?
As I explained to Flea’s Dad, part of the issue is that I think if a child’s parent thinks they are sleeping at a specific place then that’s where they must sleep. It’s not okay to take a child anywhere if the parent doesn’t know about it, right?
But I had to confess that part of the issue is that he’s a man. And somewhere deep down, I felt uncomfortable about letting someone’s daughter stay overnight with a single man – in a way I don’t think I would if it was a single woman. I worried about how Flea’s friend would feel, and how the girls’ parents would feel about their daughter staying with Flea’s Dad.
I’ve chatted with a couple of friends since who have told me they would have done exactly the same, but I know Flea’s Dad felt a bit put out – he’s a decent guy and great with Flea and her friends, so it’s not as though I had any reason to object to him looking after them.
It just felt weird.
But now I wonder – this must be an issue for lots of divorced couples who share parenting – what do other Mums and Dads do?
Am I being sexist? Or assuming other people will be?
What would you have done?