Today’s installment of “WTF?” comes from a Dear Prudence column. A mother writes in for advice about an uncomfortable situation her 8-year-old daughter landed her in, when she offered to give away an expensive dollhouse to a friend, and the friend’s mother took the 8-year-old’s offer as some sort of binding contract:
My 8-year-old daughter recently had a friend over for a play date. The girls played in her room, and my daughter’s friend was playing with our doll house. My daughter told her she could have the doll house and all the furniture, etc. as she didn’t play with it anymore, and the friend looked thrilled. Happily I was nearby to defuse this, so I jumped in to say that no, she could not have the doll house, and that my daughter was not allowed to give away things without permission first. My daughter’s friend seemed fine, and I explained that this doll house was expensive, and that we were keeping it for younger siblings, and also for when cousins and friends visit. The girls moved on to play dress-up. However, about an hour after the friend went home, I got an irate email from her mother, who insists her daughter was “crushed” by my “miserly” attitude, and that I wasn’t teaching my daughter the “joys of giving.” She claims that my daughter’s mention of the gift was binding, and that we “owe” her the doll house.
Wow. This is how this interaction would’ve gone over in my house, had my daughter come home crushed that she wasn’t given someone else’s family heirloom:
Daughter: Mom! I’m crushed. Sally gave me her dead grandmother’s dollhouse and her mom wouldn’t let me take it.
Me: Get over it. It doesn’t belong to you. Wipe that frown off your face before I go into your room and pick out something to donate to Goodwill.
And this is how I would have responded to mom’s email:
Sorry. Your daughter is welcome to come over and play with my child, but she will not be returning home with my wedding dress or my grandmother’s china set, either.
Prudence basically advises the mother to ignore this crazy person and feel sorry for her daughter. I whole-heartedly agree. I’m often amazed that people can survive into adulthood with no common sense. It is truly amazing.