When I was growing up, I remember LOVING to have sleepovers with my friends. And in typical kid fashion, I begged my mom to let me have one every Friday and Saturday night. Most of those "requests" were met with a "no" but a lot were a weary "yes" and I just couldn't understand why my mom was not as excited as me to have an extra kid making noise, eating our food, getting underfoot and generally running amok. With four kids to manage day in and day out, adding one more probably wasn't more than a blip on the radar screen for my mom, but after a long day, I'm sure she wanted to relax and put her feet up (haha) more than she wanted to have extra kids running around.
So, when my kids were old enough to start asking for sleepovers (and this happened at the scary young age of three!), I thought it would be a fabulous idea! Popcorn! Movies! Makeovers! Making a huge "fort" out of blankets in the family room! Well, not so much. Sleepovers have a few common denominators. For example, from ages 3-11, a sleepover will include at least one of the following elements (and usually more than one, or all): 1. Someone gets homesick and wants their mom - conveniently this happens between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. 2. Someone eats too much candy/pizza/popcorn and either has a killer stomach ache, for which you are unsure whether to administer Tums, or they reward your kindness by barfing - usually in their sleeping bag or on your carpet. 3. Two or more girls will have a girl fight and won't be "best friends" anymore. This will entail a new sleeping arrangement as said girls cannot, under any circumstances, have their sleeping bags touching. 4. One child (usually your own) will suffer a complete emotional breakdown due to too much junk food, not enough sleep, overstimulation, or all of the above. Once girls hit puberty, the sleepovers take on a whole new appeal. Now, the guest list will have to be revised several times in order not to upset the delicate balance of friendships or lack thereof, and generally your "small" sleepover turns into a barely manageable crowd. These girls can eat, too! Talk about your teenage boys? No, girls can eat just as much. Your carefully planned snacks will have to be doubled (usually at the last minute, so you are scrambling for something in the pantry) and you can never have enough two liter bottles of soda. In addition, these girls will want to sleep in, so that a once respectable 10 a.m. pick up time now becomes impossible. They will require more sophisticated breakfasts, such as chocolate chip pancakes and mochas (preferably from Starbucks). And at least one girl will want to sneak out during the sleepover. Text message rules will fly out the window as they text surreptitiously under their sleeping bags until 3 a.m. at which time they fall asleep with the phone in their hand, text message still unsent. They will wake in the morning with their iPod earbuds still in their ears, music still blaring. And they will leave at least one highly fashionable item behind, or perhaps an unfashionable one, like Victoria's Secret thong underpants that you'd rather not know they're wearing.
Tonight Hannah is having a sleepover. The "reason" behind this (not that there needs to be one, because sleepovers are practically a requirement here), is to watch "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" because Hannah has never seen it. Yes, the Disney movie. So, she has two girls over and two boys, Drew and Lars, who are pretty much a fixture at our house (they arrive around 3 p.m. daily and stay through dinner). The boys, of course, are required to leave at 10 p.m. but they continue to ask if they can stay over. Now, I've never had a problem with boys and girls being "friends" and Hannah has certainly had many boy sleepovers in her youth, but once they hit 12, it just doesn't seem prudent to allow anything but same-sex sleepovers. I don't want to be the one blamed when a "Juno"-esque teen gets pregnant on my watch! But they're clever, those pubescent ones. They figure out ways to disappear for long periods of time under the guise of picking up something forgotten from one or another's house. I don't know what they're doing, which is why I'm glad when they are back in the house, in plain sight. Unfortunately this also means they are here eating my food, playing their loud music and tossing gum wrappers on the floor.
I'm not sure why I keep saying "yes" to these parental torture nights. Maybe it's because I want them to have good memories of good times with friends. Growing up, I had the "cool" parents. All the kids wanted to be at my house. And that's been recreated here. Maybe it's because I care more about friendships than unstained carpet and scratch-free hardwoods. Maybe I like whipping up a batch of peanut-butter-chocolate-chip cookies at the spur of the moment to feed a crowd. Or maybe I'm just numb to it. There's already chaos in this house every day, what's a little more? I've always subscribed to "the more the merrier". Even if it IS teenagers. Still, I feel I'm a glutton for punishment when I don't get enough sleep because someone falls asleep with the DVD player on and all I hear all night is the opening music on the menu page. Which brings us to the misnomer "sleepover". Very little sleep, and it's never over soon enough. Which might explain my headache.