Monday, August 22, 2011

To Sleepover or Not to Sleepover

Teresa and me at our 20 year reunion in 2005

School starts tomorrow and the one thing that I will NOT miss is the question, "Can I sleepover at so and so's house?" ) Or, "Can so and so sleep over here?"

So and so is, of course, a most beloved and cherished person, without whom the world would cease to turn. Why have there been so many so and so's around this summer?

There seems to be three schools of thought on sleepovers: never under any circumstances, occasionally with close friends, and what the hell, they’re only kids once. This last school of thought seems to be what many parents thought in the 70s and 80s, and my friends and I took full advantage. Their parents thought the same thing. It’s a different world now.

Here’s what I have heard the hardliners say about sleepovers. Their stance is that nothing good can come of them. They don’t like the “sleepover hangover” in which kids are good for nothing the day after. They have heard “horror stories” of kids who have major issues later in life because of something that happened at a sleepover. A stake president said something once about the evils associated with them.

I tend to fall into the second category. I hate the hangovers, but I know of the potential fun and euphoria of a sleepover under the right circumstances. My parents, however, should have never let me have sleepovers when I was young because of my negative reaction to them.

On several occasions I was so homesick that I would call my Dad to come get me. Usually at about 3 am. I remember sneaking into my friend Kristen’s kitchen so that her parents wouldn’t hear, calling my father on her rotary phone (the noise, noise, noise!) and begging him in a whisper to come get me. I did this again with my other friend Kristin (must have been the name). On both occasions the Kristens’ parents were awakened to my utter embarrassment as we waited for my Dad to arrive. And I am sure the Kristens always wondered if I hated them all of the sudden or if I was just a wuss.

When I got older I had tons of sleepovers with positive outcomes, but there are some things I learned and saw that were maybe not so positive. These are for sure the things that the hardliners of today are warning against that we didn’t even think about then.  Maybe that is why I am a damaged adult today!

Here are the highlights of my teenage sleepovers, which almost always involved my best friend Teresa. (see above photo.)

Once Teresa had a 50s birthday party where we put on American Grafitti and her Mom donned her 50s clothes and taught us the jitterbug.

Everyone brought tons of candy and pop and we gorged. Three girls ended up throwing up and having to go home, and that was a major downer for the rest of us. One by one they fell victim in the middle of the night like an Agatha Christie novel. After that, Teresa couldn’t have another sleepover for years it seemed.

 Murder in the dark in Teresa’s woods was one of the best. There were hand-picked boys who were invited to play in the woods with us but then “left” at a certain time determined by Teresa’s parents. I remember Teresa not coming in the house for a long time after the deadline, and then all of us peppering her with questions about a certain boy (who she later married).

Truth or dare. The thrill of learning intimate stuff you wanted to know about your friends, but wishing you’d never confessed the stuff you did. “We swear that what we say tonight, will never leave this room” was the standard safety net to get you to tell, but later someone blabbed your secrets and you were busted. Never mind, you blabbed theirs, too.

There was the old standby ritual of putting a sleeping girls’ fingers into a glass of warm water to get her to pee in her sleeping bag. The perpetrators always claimed success, but the victim always ended up crying and hating the mean girls who did it. They were out of sorts for the rest of the night, understandably (especially if they really did pee in their sleeping bags).

Why did we have sleepovers with mean girls? So stupid.

Sometimes we slept on the trampoline and giggled so loud the neighbors complained.  We told some hand-picked boys what we were doing, and they scared us to pieces and got us screaming in our jammies. The boys were banished by annoyed parents and we were threatened with having to go home.

I don’t know how our sleep-deprived parents stood it. Maybe that’s why many parents today are saying no. Some have come up with a great alternative that I have used as well: lateovers. Sleepovers are fraught with unknowns, but lateovers are safe. A kid is retrieved by his or her parents at around 11 pm. They have still had fun, but they will get their sleep and not get into trouble. Parents today are smarter than parents of my day! This works!

So I am torn. There is a closeness and a deepening of friendship that comes about at a sleepover with a best friend that often doesn’t happen other times. There are the amazing memories (both good and bad) that make for great stories then and later in life.  There are life experiences that shape ideas about friends and fun. There is the feeling of doing something special with people you care about. It shouldn’t be something that happens often, but that happens with the right people at the right times.

Friends are the cherished people who won’t be around forever like families, and so it’s nice to take advantage when the time is ripe. When’s the last time you, as an adult, had a sleepover with your childhood best friend? Probably years ago, but I bet you still remember every vivid detail, and sometimes wish for those carefree summer nights

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