Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Forgive Me If I'm a Little Sleepy

Take eight children.  Place children together in a living room, bedroom, or basement containing a television and DVD player.  Provide fridge stocked with soda and cupboard filled with cookies, tortilla chips, and cheese balls.  Add generous portions of loud and silly.  Remove as much sleep as possible.  Simmer overnight.

There are variations, of course.  Try adding pizza instead of chips.  Let the kids run loose in the backyard before sending them to the basement.  Random appearances by younger siblings add the unexpected, and a flashlight in every hand adds sparkle.

No matter the variation, the childhood sleepover is either the greatest childhood event since Christmas morning or the bane of parental existence.  It just depends on your perspective.  My perspective is the mid-thirties, eight-hours-of-required-sleep, low-tolerance-for-sugar-high-sleep-deprived-tweens variety.

In other words I don’t much like sleepovers.

How do you keep everyone occupied?  A movie?  If attendees can agree to one, there’s ninety minutes covered, and finding consensus may take an additional forty-five, but is the debate worth it?

“That’s a baby movie.  My first grade brother watches that.”

“I’ve seen it already.”

“Is that PG-13? ‘Cause if it’s PG-13, I’m not allowed to watch.”

Maybe thirty minutes of entertainment can be found on one of 500 available TV channels.  There has to be an episode of iCarly everyone hasn’t seen yet.  Then again, allowing the television as an unsupervised activity, especially late-night, creates the possibility of uncomfortable breakfast conversations.

“What’s a bidet?”

“Excuse me?”

“What’s a bidet?”

“Um, we’re eating breakfast here.  Maybe we could … wait.  Why are you asking?”

“We were watching, like, Extreme Bathroom Makeover or something last night and they installed one and, well, what is it?”

Thankfully we didn’t spring for the extra movie channels, and we enabled password protection on shows TV-PG and higher.

And for the record, I’d argue that bidets should not slip through the gaps in TV-PG.

Recently the sleepover debate once again graced the dinner conversation.  I let my wife take the point, and I thought she handled it well.  Her arguments held water, her reasons were logically presented, and none of that mattered.

“When I’m grown up, I’m going to allow my daughter to have a sleepover, and I’m going to invite all the moms over.  That’s the only way I’ll ever get to have MY friends overnight.”

“What a great idea.  We’ll invite the girls’ parents.  It’ll be a family sleepover.”

“Mom!  You wouldn’t!”

“But you just suggested it.”

“No, I didn’t!  What I was saying was … ugghhh!  You just don’t understand!”

Add that to the list of things Mom and Dad simply can’t comprehend.

Furthermore, sleepovers aren’t free, and I don’t mean financially.  Over the next forty-eight hours parents must pay the consequences.  Lack of sleep enhances the pre-teen personality.  Fuses are shorter, mood swings more severe, and the truth more blunt.  “Sleepovers are way cooler at so-and-so’s house.  Her mom …”

Look, my kids have great friends.  They’re wonderful kids, and I love them all.  I really do.  But when they wake me up at 3:00 am …

Oh, all right, I still love them.  But really, three o’clock in the morning?

Thanks for reading my latest -- yaaaawwwn -- newspaper column.  Click here for the original version or here for the printable version.  

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