Mom, can I have a friend sleep over?

More often than not these days, my answer to this question is “sure”.  The boys have reached the age when the “sleepover” is no longer a misnomer and the kids actually sleep – albeit much less than they would if they were alone.  But the deprivation damage is recoverable and frankly, life is much easier when the kids are happy and occupied with their friends.

I have fond memories of childhood sleepovers.  Late night chats, movies, truth or dare…  but the most memorable aspect was you got to see other people’s parents in their pajamas!  It was a level of familial intimacy that you rarely would experience on the average play date and it allowed you to live someone else’s life if only for 24 hours.  I would covet a sleepover at one friend’s house because she had a laundry shoot, another for the puffy french toast her Mom made in the morning, and another for her trundle beds.

While I found the family swap to be exciting, some kids not so much.  The story goes that when my little brother was actually little (and not the studly, strapping man he is today), he would hardly ever go over to other children’s houses.  His reason?  “I don’t know their mothers.” 

A perfectly reasonable position to take.  I think if you would ask him today he would tell you that he was worried that the Mom would make him eat something he didn’t like, sleep somewhere he didn’t want, or just be too different for a little boy to feel safe and at home.  After all, no one really does it just the way your Mom does it. 

It is for this reason that I feel distinctly proud when another parent responds to our invitations with “Yes, little Johnny would love to sleep over.”  It tells me that the child is comfortable enough with Dave and me to become part of our family and under our control for an extended period of tine.  But more so because the parent is comfortable sending their kid into our world and letting us play parent for a stretch.  It is really quite an honor if you think about the level of trust you place on the sleep over family.   You must feel reasonably certain that these parents are not going to freak out, neglect, harm, overfeed, underfeed, or otherwise ruin your kid in any way, which is not always a given.

We know a few families that would give us pause if one of the boys was asked to spend the night at their house.  If my reaction to their request is having the conversation with myself that starts out with, “well, somehow those kids have survived those parents, so I guess mine can for one night too…”, the final answer is usually no.  This denial is usually met with demands from the brothers for an explanation to which I rely on an oldie but goodie:

“Well, you see I don’t know their mothers.”

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