I have a confession to make: I am a sleepover curmudgeon. Although, maybe curmudgeon isn’t the right word; it’s too mild. The truth is I loathe sleepovers, no matter whose house they take place at, (although, obviously, I most especially hate it when they take place at mine).
I hate how they encourage my children’s toothbrushes to be scattered about the cosmos (is mine the only house where the nightly tooth brushing struggle is always preceded by the search for a toothbrush?). I hate how they always seem to involve me driving a carload of children from Point A to Point B (and often Points C, D, and E, as well). And I hate how, whenever they involve more than two children, they become nests of intrigue and alliance building that make a late season episode of Survivor look like a tea party.
But most of all I hate how they have come to be expected–a weekend does not go by when I do not receive multiple requests both for and from my children involving the dreaded S-word.
When I was a child (here my kids roll their eyes), a sleepover was a special occasion: as I remember, we only had one or two sleepovers a year, if that. Like I said: they were special occasions–we got to sleep in sleeping bags in the living room or back yard, eat popcorn by the bucketful, and stay up as late as we wanted. Not that that part of the sleepover regimen has changed (the only difference now is that nobody fights over who gets to shake the Jiffy Pop)–it’s just that these days, instead of happening once or twice a year, it’s every weekend.
I’ll tell you what it is: it’s binge sleepovering–and it’s starting to negatively impact my life, to the point where I feel like there needs to be some kind of a sleepover intervention.
Maybe it’s because we have such a small house, but I really don’t want to have to give up my living room once a week so that people can come and lose their toothbrushes in the couch cushions. Nor do I want to see those same people lolling about on my couch until noon the next day. (Because, really, when has a sleepover ever been “sleeping” and then it’s “over”? Everyone knows that sleepovers stretch far into the next day, until they become a “sleepover” + “brunch”–or, as I like to think of it, a “bucket and one” for the opposing parents. If I was smart the first thing I would have taught my children how to say wouldn’t have been “Mommy” or “Daddy,” but rather “Hey baby, I got to get up early tomorrow.”)
In my children’s circle of friends (and their parents), my sleepover antipathy is well-known, which means that most sleepover requests involve people taking, rather than adding to, my supply of children. You would think that that would appease me, but it does not.
For one thing, this means that every time my kids spend the night at someone else’s house I go even deeper into “sleepover debt;” a condition whereby you owe another set of parents so much free reciprocal child care that you literally cannot say no to them when they ask you to watch their kids. As it is now, I am so far in debt to most of the parents I know that if they were the World Bank, I would be Liberia. To even it up, I’ll probably have to babysit their grandchildren.
Or, worse yet, one day all of the parents I owe sleepovers to will show up on my doorstep at once, and I’ll be stuck with a houseful of kids for an entire weekend.
I guess that’s one way to restock my couch’s toothbrush collection.