I grew up on sleepovers with friends.
I have great memories from those sleepovers. We painted each other's nails. Shared secrets. Rented movies. Popped popcorn. Practiced new hairstyles. Taught each other how to french braid. We tried to stay up all night long - sometimes we were successful. Sometimes not.
As we grew older in middle school, our sleepovers became more daring. Truth or dare. Hypnotism attempts. Light as a feather, stiff as a board. The rented movies became scary. In fact, I think I saw every Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street at a sleepover.
Finally as a teenager in high school, sleepovers were just a place to crash after the big parties or a time to commiserate when you didn't have a date that night. We still watched movies - but by this age the horror movie phase was over and we were stuck on musicals like Grease or Grease 2 and eating lots of junk food.
Regardless of the age, sleepovers were harmless. But they were tremendously fun. We didn't have computers, cell phones or any technological devices to worry about. The biggest thing back then was if you had a Beta or VHS. We literally entertained ourselves with our own creativity and were fairly low key.
But as a parent, I was introduced to the other side of sleepovers. The side I could never fully appreciate until a mother myself.
Sleepovers create zombies. The next day my children would be exhausted. Grouchy. Irritable. Disrespectful. Our family would lose half of our weekend to the zombies and their behavior.
Finally I put my foot down and called "No Sleepovers". It is actually shocking to think that I did that. It seems completely unfair and hypocritical doesn't it? To brag about all of my sleepover stories growing up. To state that they were some of my best memories growing up. Then to take them away from my kids. I know. Meanest Mom EVER.
I feel like something that could have been a wonderful part of growing up has become overkill. Once again society seems to have taken a good thing and over done it ad nauseum. With four kids in the house someone was always invited to spend the night - every weekend. If you let one, you have to let another. It gets crazy. Takes on a life of its own. Someone had to stop the madness. I couldn't live a life that was destined to star an overtired smart-mouthed kid EVERY weekend.
Why does EVERYthing have to turn into a sleepover?
I mean EVERYthing. Doesn't matter where they are, what they are doing or which kid it is. The magic words "spend the night" will always come into play.
The other thing that I didn't understand was boys having sleepovers. Growing up I don't recall my brother having sleepovers or going to sleepovers except on very rare occasions or if it was a camping/scouting event. I have no recollection of the guys spending the night at each other's houses. It just did not happen.
But now? Boys have sleepovers. I asked my husband about it. He agreed it was unnecessary and not anything that guys did when he was growing up. You might hang out with the guys in the neighborhood but then everyone went home. If you wanted to play ball together the next day or fish at the pond, you met up the next day. No one needed to spend the night. Sleepovers were something the girls did.
I was always under the impression that sleepovers were a "girl" thing but in raising my three boys, I have learned that in modern times - boys do sleepovers. A LOT of them. Especially team related ones. The teams get together to hang out after a game, before a game, between tournament days...I have never understood it. Don't kids need to be well rested before a participating in a sporting event?
We have battled this. My boys were always worried about being left out when the "team" was all going to be there. I hate the pressure it puts on a parent. Especially when a parent is approached by the beat down committee. You know what I mean. The request is never made by just your child alone. Nope. Even if your child managed to ask you alone the first time - make no mistake that after you respond with no - you will then be approached by the group of children wanting your child to spend the night with a perfectly harmonized serenade of "PPPPLLLLLEEEEEEAAAAASSSSSEEEEE?" Then to top it all off, the hosting mother will waste no time, pleading the case for your child against you as well. "It's really no problem. We'd love to have them. I can bring them home tomorrow." As a parent, it infuriates me.
I wish they would just go away. When do sleepovers end? How old is too old? Seriously...
I am still waiting for this to pass. My oldest son goes out longboarding with friends. Some of them live in the neighborhood. Those other boys take turns spending the night at each other's houses EVERY weekend. No joke. EVERY weekend. So this means that my nearly 17 year old approaches me to spend the night at someone's house on a regular basis. Here are my questions: 1.) Why does he have to spend the night at someone's house who literally lives a 3 minute walk from us? 2.) Better yet. Now he has his driver's license. I am pretty sure that he could get himself home before midnight and then back out with them first thing in the morning. Why do 16 year old boys need to spend the night with each other every weekend?
Just a couple of weeks ago Son #2 was invited to a "team" sleepover after they played a lacrosse game that afternoon and then had to be on the field by 7:45 the next morning. Our immediate response was no. Then the beat down began. His teammates approached me directly at the school. The phone calls ensued at home. All while my son begged and pleaded that he was the ONLY one who wouldn't be there. Reluctantly, we allowed him to go - no one wants their kid to be the one chastised by the team. We were exasperated and angry.
I had been nagged earlier that particular day by Son #3 to spend the night with the neighborhood guys who live right down the street. These boys all live less than a mile from each other. Naturally, the pleading began again..But I stuck to my guns and said no. He was furious and could not understand how it was okay for his older brother that night but not him.
His point was well taken. It isn't fair. I can only tell you that I take each situation on a case by case scenario. I try to allow "special" situations rather then agreeing to every Friday or Saturday night request. I try to set some sort of boundaries. Honestly, I want to ban them altogether. Then I think of my daughter and think that sleepovers have always been a part of raising girls.
Which brings me back to my original dilemma.
What do boys do at these weekly sleepovers? As a mother of 3 boys, I can't even imagine what they would do. My boys are loud. They don't sit and participate in quiet activities. Do they stay up all night playing video games like Call of Duty? What kinds of movies do they watch? The Terminator? Do they shoot on the lacrosse goal all night? Play football in the house?
I think I allow my daughter to host a sleepover maybe 3 times a year. Because I battle the concept of sleepovers on a weekly basis. And make no mistake that if I allow her for any reason - I will be badgered by the others for being unfair and the next thing you know everyone wants their "fair share". Suddenly I am being hounded by three teenage boys to spend the night at so and so's house.
How could something that left such wonderful past memories in my mind, now be the catalyst for such nightmares? I limit sleepovers. They are something that may happen once in a blue moon over here. But there isn't a weekend that passes that the kids aren't invited to go.
Son #3 is thinking about his upcoming birthday. Since he was born July 5th, we always try to celebrate in June right after school when everyone is still here and haven't begun their vacation agendas just yet. He asked about setting up our tent in the backyard and having the guys over for a camp out.
This idea seemed great to me. But why? Somehow suggesting that a group of 13 year old boys have a camp out makes more sense than a group of 13 year old boys having a sleepover in my basement. I don't know why. It also seems like allowing something like that one time represents it being an exception to celebrate becoming a teenager.
In thinking about hosting a "boys sleepover" for the first time. I Googled it. I was trying to find out more about my hesitant thoughts. Where they might be coming from. I read several web sites where mothers are fed up with sleepovers. Everyone's kids are exhausted and all sorts of inappropriate behavior is taking place. There are a lot of moms like me out there who also find sleepovers for boys awkward.
But just when I was finding some justification for my sleepover dislike, my eyes were opened to a whole new situation. What I found was something else that I had never heard of or imagined.
CO-ED sleepovers. Apparently these are commonplace now. With teenagers. Parents are hosting them. Parents are allowing their kids to attend them.
Thank God none of my kids have approached me for permission for one of THOSE!
Suddenly I am feeling better about my own dilemma and my ability to say "NO" so easily...