“Hey Mama, can SuchandSuch spend the night?”
Ugh. First of all, if the question is asked in front of SuchandSuch, it’s an automatic no. I think that’s written in the parental code somewhere. Growing up, it was a total deal breaker.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t have people spend the night a lot as a kid. I never had cool videogames or a trampoline, our basement wasn’t finished and fancy, and my mom was, well, eccentric. Although it didn’t happen often, the rules were the same. A few moms didn’t mind, and they’d always say yes. For the most part, though, if you asked while friend was present, friend wasn’t spending the night.
Having someone else’s kids spend the night isn’t easy. It requires a different level of awareness somehow. It’s not that we don’t keep up with our own kids while they watch movies and sleep. When another child is in your house, you have to have something special for breakfast (what if they don’t like it?), you hope they can sleep (what if I have to take them home in the middle of the night?), and you need snacks (a box of raisins doesn’t count).
There were houses, THOSE houses, where everything smelled like laundry, and if the pantry wasn’t loaded with Little Debbie snacks, there were homemade brownies on the counter or something. Breakfast was eggs, bacon and pancakes, but if you’d rather have waffles, that’s fine, too. If your friend didn’t have a TV in their room, there was a huge one in the basement, and an unlimited list of VHS titles. Most of them were PG-13.
For my fourth-grade birthday party, I had a slumber party. We rented “Revenge of the Nerds” on VHS, which I’d heard about from my much older cousin. There are boobs in that movie. Nekkid ones. Nine- and 10-year-old girls don’t think that’s cool. It’s embarrassing. I quickly hit “eject.” We had to wait for it to rewind, but “The Labyrinth” was a fine alternative.
Do kids still prank each other? Do kids still use the word “prank”? Are the days of frozen panties, pinkies dipped in warm water and shaving cream facials things of the past? “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” was real, y’all. We levitated someone every Friday night. Until we got caught, crank phone calls were our specialty. At the risk of aging myself, we didn’t have caller ID then, so people still answered the phone. We thought we were super funny calling the tampon hotline or the 800 number on the can of Coke.
One night, we got caught, and that was the end of our calling careers. We found the number of someone with the last name of Pitts. We called and asked for Smelly. Har har har. The lady who answered at the Pitts’ residence wasn’t the least bit entertained. Neither was my friend Mandi’s mom. She hadn’t anticipated talking to a certain Mrs. Pitts that night. As it turns out, Mr. Pitts was rather, um promiscuous, and his wife thought we were one of his mistresses. Whoopsie.
We’re in the sleepover season in our house. For the most part, I love it. The kids who’ve spent the night thus far are easy, nothing more than an extra piece of furniture. I’m kidding. I feed them. There are some I worry about having over — if you think it’s yours, you might be right.
I’d like to send an all-parent request: please, please uphold the code. Sleepovers aren’t granted if kids ask in front of SuchandSuch. Additionally, if SuchandSuch’s parent says NO, NO is the answer. Bottom line. If you argue or question the NO, you are undermining SuchandSuch’s mother, and SuchandSuch’s mother won’t be happy. Got it? Sometimes, SuchandSuch’s parents have a good reason for saying NO. Maybe they just don’t want to get into it on Friday night with two kids begging for SuchandSuch to spend the night. I’m not bitter. I’m just asking.
Otherwise, if your kids spend the night with me, I may cook them breakfast, but I’ll probably send them to the pantry to choose a cereal. I sure hope they can pour their own milk. We may not have any new releases and I don’t really bake, but if your child wakes in the night, begging to go home, I’ll hug them and convince them to stay. That should be part of the code, too. Kids who spend the night out must stay out. I’m not sure how we’ll actually make that happen, but we can try. Y’all with me?