Daughter three, aged five, wants to be both older like her sisters and a baby like her brother. So as well as wanting to be cuddled to sleep she also spends a lot of her time strategising about how to get friends round for a sleepover. I told her she was too young to sleep over so she targeted a seven year old and asked her over. She reckons that if we get to know the seven year old, eventually I will ask her to stay over and they will sit up all night eating sweeties. We had the seven year old around a couple of weeks ago and she was due to return the visit at the weekend. However, when we rolled up at her house on Saturday and were ushered into the living room I kind of froze. There in the middle of the room was one of those Rottweiler-type dogs. A big fat one.
"She's really frightened of dogs," I started, feeling very uncomfortable. Meanwhile, daughter three and her friend had disappeared upstairs. I had a word with her teenage sister, asking if the dog could stay outside [there was no sign of the mum, but I assumed she was upstairs as I had rung her just five minutes earlier to ask the number of the house]. She said that was no problem. I left the house and sat in the car feeling sick to my stomach. I just don't trust those dogs. I know people who own them think they are fluffy and lovely, but I think it flies in the face of logic. We really don't know that much about animal psychology and we might wish to put our own interpretation on what a dog is thinking [even on what a human is thinking] and get it horribly wrong. What if the dog felt threatened by a stranger being in the house? What if they let it back in, thinking it was perfectly harmless since it was a family pet? My partner and I were due to go out Christmas shopping and the mum had said she would drop daughter three back home to my mum a few hours later. I rang my partner, I rang my friend. I admit it was blind panic, but my impulse was to tear down the door, grab my daughter and run. Perhaps I was overreacting, but I have always told the girls that if someone has a dog like that they are barred full stop from going to their house. Daughter three just didn't know about the pet situation in this house.
I went back to the house and found out that the mum was actually at work, which she had never mentioned previously. I invented a reason and got daughter three out of the house. She was not happy. I apologised profusely to her and explained the reason. My partner offered her a treat. "Can I have a packet of Haribos?" she asked. I was still in full maternal protection mode and apologised again five minutes later. "Are you okay?" I asked daughter three. She paused for a minute. "Can I have two packets of Haribos?" she answered. That girl will make a master politician.