Typically for our kids’ birthdays, Tony and I either plan a family outing or purchase one special item( i.e. a bike) rather than dispense a truckload of gifts. We’re hitting the zoo for Teddy’s second b-day (which was Monday) and originally, Addie and Byron were going to host all their friends at a joint bowling party this month. But, honestly, Byron’s enthusiasm for the party lasted for the length of time it took him to realize his bowling prowess was not something he wanted his friends to witness. He asked for a sleepover instead. Addie decided she’d prefer a sleepover too since her desire for a bowling party stemmed from photos of snazzy bowling party invitations, favors and thank you cards courtesy of an old American Girl magazine. Once she realized I would not help her make the items (a.k.a kill myself doing everything), the allure quickly faded. Did I mention I hate sleepovers?
The older the kids get, the harder it has become to find family activities we can all enjoy together. Even though we choose to shelter our children under a homeschooling rock, they keep making friends. And celebrating with friends anywhere is already becoming cooler than hanging with the fam’ at a museum or bounce house.
Since entertaining gaggles of children is expensive to do anywhere but under my own roof, I reluctantly welcomed the sleepover into my home. Unlike a large party where I’m expected to provide a dinner, dessert and entertainment while supervising. A sleepover, in a nut shell, is like tossing a movie and a couple of bags of microwave popcorn into a den of laughing hyenas and walking away. But I don’t get off completely scott free. Here to explain, are seven things I hate about sleepovers.
1. The guest list. When you run in homeschooling circles, you can’t invite just two or three girls because they probably each have a sister only 13-24 months older or younger that will have to come too. Not only does 10-year-old Sally get invited to Addie’s 10th birthday sleepover, but her 11 and 8-year-old sisters get to come too, because they all play so nice together! I hate having to cut the guest list short but, I’ll admit, sometimes I “suggest” to my kids to only invite one family (i.e. one set of two or three brothers/sisters) so the sleepover can be more “special.” However, I think they’re starting to catch on, and if so, I’m doomed.
2. Nobody actually sleeps. Why don’t we just call them “awake-overs”?
3. In a small old house like ours, where half the walls are paper-thin or literally torn apart due to renovations, where can a horde of cackling tweens reside without disturbing the rest of us? Clearly, the yard or the basement are the best options, but as both locations are inhabited by crickets and unheated, I’m left with the small living room. Amazingly enough, it’s acoustically designed to carry loud, gossipy whispers through my comforter and directly into my ear. Admittedly, that does make the breakfast conversation more fun from my perspective. “Why Sally, I can’t remember. Did you call Tommy or Billy from your CCD class cute?” Cue mama cackle.
4. Try to pick movies that don’t offend someone’s parents.
“Hi, Sally Sr. Addie’s having a sleepover Friday and would love for Sally Jr. to come. Great. She was hoping to watch the first three Harry Potter movies; would that be a problem?” *CLICK* “Addie, I think Sally is out unless we make it an EWTN marathon.”
5. Nowadays, everyone is allergic to something. I’m afraid somebody will go into anaphylactic shock during Truth or Dare if I inadvertently serve the wrong snack. “Uh-oh, did Sally’s mom say Orville Redenbacher or Jiffy Pop gave Sally explosive diarrhea? Girls, how about ice water? You can crunch on the cubes if you like.”
At Byron’s last sleep over, I offered orange juice to all the boys and between large gulps of OJ one remarked, “My mom doesn’t buy orange juice. She says we don’t need all that sugar.” I paused and inside I’m thinking, “Oh crap, what have I done? Do I need to call and apologize? Will this throw off his family’s toxin cleanse? Should I smack the cup out of the kids hand and send him to the bathroom with syrup of ipecac?”
6. No one sleeps and yet by 8 a.m. it’s like they’ve been drinking Red Bull and espresso for hours. Meanwhile my two cups of coffee are just barely keeping me from sticking my head in the oven.
7. Sibling rivalry. “Mama, Byron keeps spying on us!” “Mama, Addie won’t stop talking to my friends!” “Mamamamamamamamama!” How to answer in a way that shuts them up, invokes immediate compliance to cease and desist and still gives me street cred with the guests is beyond my grasp.
This time around, I’m choosing the lesser of two evils and sending the other siblings to grandmas for the night. Which guarantees me a houseful of hot mess within two hours of the guests leaving and the siblings return. Crash and burn.
Sleepovers leave a trail of exhaustion and tears in their wake that is all too soon forgotten by the child, but remain painfully etched in the mind of every mom forced to pick unpopped kernels from the living room rug and baby’s mouth for days. It’s like the designated driver getting the hangover, while the drinker is already planning for next Friday night. Is it any wonder I hate sleepovers?
Edie’s birthday is in December and she already knows what she wants. Don’t ask.