Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hang Loose, Dude, It's Only a Sleepover

by Anne Zelenka
We hosted Henry's first sleepover last week. I was a bit nervous, because I get a little crazy with extra kids in the house, but I wanted to reciprocate for the nice sleepover that Henry had at his friend D.'s house a couple weeks prior.

We ordered pizza and cheesy-bread. Afterwards, the boys played video games and the Game of Life. They stayed up until 9 pm and then I put them to bed: Henry in his room and D. using the bed in the au pair's room, since she was spending the night elsewhere. D. read for a while since he usually stays up later and Henry tried to go right to sleep. D. had trouble sleeping but eventually was able to. In the morning, we took everyone out to breakfast at Denny's. It seemed to have been a successful event. Not perfect, since D. had trouble sleeping and kept going to Henry's room to wake him up, but it seemed good enough.

Then, last night at karate class, Rick was cornered by D.'s dad. "Hey, I was really pissed off that D. and Henry didn't sleep in the same room. What kind of sleepover is that? Is my son not good enough to sleep with your son? They're supposed to be able to talk. That's what a sleepover is about." And so forth.

I felt shamed when Rick told me. I had tried hard to do a good job. My gut instinct said to have them sleep in separate rooms--the choice was either sleeping in the same bed in the au pair's room (it's a queen) or sleeping in separate rooms because I don't have two beds in one room. Henry has had many troubles sleeping and although my friends and I used to share a bed during sleepovers in my youth, we were older, maybe 12 or 14. I don't think nine-year-old boys need to stay up late talking. Also, Henry's not a big socializer anyway so I didn't see the benefit to having them in the same room. This father has a 14-year-old daughter, so I think he might be coming from a different perspective than I am, with Henry being my eldest, and a slow-to-socialize child at that. I take a gradual approach and figure if he and his friends want different (like to sleep in the same room), they'll bring it to me to consider.

So what do I do now? Call up this guy and defend myself? Ignore it? Here we are in this supposedly relaxed social environment and I get slammed instead of thanked for my hospitality. It wasn't very aloha, that's for sure.


Blogger Kai Jones said...

Um, beds? My boys always slept on the floor in sleeping bags with their friends.

Don't sweat it. If you want, you could laugh it off to the angry parent as inexperience and now you know how to do it.

1:42 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Ugh. Sleepovers are my greatest source of anxiety in thinking about parenting as my kids get older.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your post title summed it up nicely.

Also, I've found from bitter experience that mis-calibration of sleep patterns of kids that aren't used to each other's habits leads to a lot of middle of the night trouble when you try to shove them in the same room.

We hates sleepovers!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

PK and Rob - I guess I'm not the only one with misgivings about sleepovers. Thanks for making me feel better about it.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

This is ridiculous -- you extended hospitality to D, you did not mistreat him, D's dad is out of line. The correct response is 'thank you for having D over.' Not to mention feeding him two meals. What a jerk. Shake it off, its your house you make the rules. D's dad can make the rules in his house.

My mom's answer was 'no sleepovers.' I went to a very few and maybe I had one friend over once when I was 15? And it was more like what you described, Anne.

Anyway, I tend to follow suit. Add that to the list of things my kids can tell the therapist. Girls have their nasty moods often enough, I'm not courting one with sleep deprivation. If I were going to host a sleepover, I'd want to do it just like you did it.

Robbo, if you hates it, don't do it. Thats the upside of aging. Daddy always taught me the golden rule -- he who has the gold, rules.

6:41 AM  
Blogger pono said...

My son's sleepovers have usually been on shared futons in the living room, no matter whos house it was.

Why the other dad went off on Rick, I can't fathom. The only time I'd had a parent openly angry with me is after I ripped a mainland neighbor's kid a new one without running by her mom, first. I had had a bad day at work, which may be a clue.

2:15 AM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

Okay, now that I'm over my rant, I thought I'd address the questions you posed at the end of your post. If you're concerned that Henry's friendship with D is in peril, you may want to call his parents and tell them you heard that D's father was upset and that you assume it was because D was upset. You can tell them you're sorry that they were upset, find out the reasons, be sympathetic, tell them why you did what you did and emphasize that it was not because of anything about D but rather so they could all sleep well, since they are on slightly different schedules.

That said, I still think D's dad is a jerk and handled it poorly. But, if you want to smooth things over and understand what happened, a phone call may help. Unless they are belligerent people. I suppose Rick's exchange with D's dad is the crux -- if Rick already covered this and the guy was still a jerk, don't bother.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

This is all really helpful... I'm glad I can get some good and varied advice when I need it!

Pono - shared futons sound good and sleeping bags like Kai suggested might be good too. We don't have either one, however. I think sharing the queen bed would be fine. That's what I did with my friends when I was growing up.

Marjorie - I appreciate both your rant (I needed sympathy!) and your advice to consider calling up to patch things up. The father is not a jerk by any means but he's very straightforward. I think Rick probably did a good job already making things okay; he said "it was our first sleepover--we didn't know any better." For now, I'll leave it and see what happens. I may call D's mother (parents are divorced) and make sure she isn't harboring any bad feelings. She's very nice and caring, but also more controlling of kids' activities than I am.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a sleepover. Kids should sleep in the living room on the floor or in the bedroom on the floor. Not in separate rooms. Yes D's Dad did overreact, but I don't think the sleepover was too good. If your son isn't very sociable, why have the sleepover in the first place?

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with anonomyus!What kind of parent doesn't know about a "normal"sleepover!The whole situation sounds a little bit messed up to me!

12:51 PM  
Blogger elmer said...

I have never been to as a child..nor hosted..nor ever had my kids (and I have 4) go to a sleepover where the kids did not sleep in the same room.

That said..the dad was rude. You were a thoughtful host...perhaps way more concerned then most would be but if thats what works for you then thats the deal with overnight guests. But be aware that alot of parents would find that seperate rooms thing unusual but the polite ones won't say it.

At any age sleepovers are messy and unpredictable and they mess up everyones sleep schedule. Thats the fun. Popcorn in the coach..Late night movies..telling secrets as you fall asleep..flashlights..sleeping bags..pillow fights..getting up in the middle of the night and sneaking cookies.

You put alot of preasure on yourself. I only let my kids have over those friends that I know they can have good clean fun with without me having to plan a thing.

7:38 PM  

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