Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 18: Sleepover

Will's friend Ethan is spending the night tonight. I picked up both boys after school, and they've been playing nonstop ever since (it's 8 p.m. now), with a brief break for pizza eating.

Having a sleepover guest in the house made me start thinking about how different families have different sleepover styles. We tend to take a hands-off approach when the boys have friends spend the night. Jack and his friends are marathon gamers, so they hole up in Jack's room with their computers and have at it. Will's buddies like to play--board games, sports, rolling around on the floor type frolicking--with an occasional movie or televised sports event thrown in. Either way, the Man and I usually show our faces from time to time, order pizzas, and enforce bedtimes. Otherwise, we leave them alone.

But I remember as a kid attending sleepovers that were really invitations to join someone else's family for awhile. You were asked to help set the table before dinner, you ate whatever the mom was cooking that night, and after dinner you might play a game of Monopoly with the whole clan. You didn't get to spend private time with your friend until bedtime, but somehow that private time was more special than if you'd gone off on your own all evening. You'd earned it.

When I was a young adult in college, I spent several minor breaks and holidays at friends' houses (I went to college in North Carolina, and my parents lived in Texas, much too far away to drive for only a few days), and that's when I was most involved with other people's families. Parents would sit down to have serious conversations with you about your future plans (for some reason, this was much less irritating than when your own parents wanted to have those conversations with you), and after dinner you might go out to a bar or a club with your friends' siblings. For a few short days you felt intimately connected with these families, witnessed their dramas, did their dishes (I had a reputation as a good house guest, in case you were wondering), walked their dogs.

The big deal about sleepovers when I was a kid was how different other people's houses smelled, how foreign other families' habits were. As I got older, the exciting thing about staying at friends' houses was seeing how people who seemed outwardly a lot like me could have very different ways from my own. Other families' habits seemed exotic, thrilling. My father turned on easy listening radio first thing in the morning; what an eye-opener to stay with a family whose father turned on Mozart.

I hope Ethan has a nice time tonight. I hope he doesn't think our house smells too weird. It's nice having him here. That's the flip side, as an adult. You have a kid spend the night, and all the sudden you're looking at your life through his eyes. What does he see? A house where tidiness is not prized, surely, but also, hopefully, a place where people are creative and have hobbies and listen to music and like to laugh. I hope he sees that, too.


Pom Pom said...

What great thinking, Frances. I'm sure you were an amazing house guest!

Gumbo Lily said...

I loved reading this. I took me back to my sleepover days when I helped with the dishes and listened to the dad of the family tell about his mini-airplane collections or about another dad's latest veterinary experience. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed this.


Angela said...

To be a 'real' sleepover, it is important to share your friend's bedroom and spend much of the night in pointless ocnversations.

But the being 'part of the whole family'thing is, as you say, important too. It helps you learn to relate to other adults outside your own family, and accept that other people do life differently.

hope you ALL had fun! weekend blessings

Danielle said...

This post sent me down memory lane. Yes. A huge part of the experience of a sleepover WAS getting to be a part of another family and seeing how they do it. Eating dinner together almost always happened. I admit now to opening drawers and peaking in closets, smelling shampoo bottles. It was so exciting to me to be a visitor in another world. I don't know if I was looking for a Narnian porthole, but it felt that full of possibility to me.

Melissa E said...

My parents were very much like you when we had sleepovers, my friends and I would play in my room stopping only for short dinner and snack breaks as well.

My best friend had parents who would not allow sleepovers. Her dad always claimed we had our own beds and we didn't need to sleep over and since we lived in the same neighborhood, he said if we wanted to spend that much time together we could just get up really early on Sat and hang out!

Betty said...

This is a lovely post and I immediately remembered my sleepovers in my friend Jini's house in the 1970s, she was Pakistani and their house seemed so fun, sitting on the floor, eating with fingers, staying up late and singing Diana Ross with all her 6 big sisters! thanks for bringing the memories out!

Tracy said...

I used to love having sleepovers at my friends' homes because mostly they lived in children's hostels through the school term. Oh how I loved to experience a household where there was more than one girl and lots going on. How I wished my father would be stationed is some out of the way place and I would get to live in a hostel through the school term. I'm sure my friends would have preferred being home with their parents!

magsmcc said...

I'm with Danielle- loved poking about- though it was never on sleepovers. I don't think they existed- first and only one I went to was in early adult years! Maybe everyone knew I loved poking about? I'm gutted that you got two posts out before I commented on this one. Bloomin' time differences!