I must be softening in my old age because my son somehow conned me into throwing a sleepover for his birthday. Which, you can gauge from the title of this piece, is something that I am never doing again. The experience could have been way worse, to be sure. But my house and my heart are too small to put myself through it again. Lessons learned, people. LESSONS LEARNED.
The children were to arrive at 6. I had spent nearly $3million at the grocery store, and they would fix their own pizza with an array of toppings (cheese, something called “beef crumbles,” and pepperoni.) Afterwards Ham Guy would open presents, then they would all shove their mouths full of the delicious devil’s food cake I made (FROM SCRATCH WHAT-WHAAAAT) and ice cream (again, with a vast array of toppings – chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and cherries.) Then they would watch movies and fall asleep eventually, their bellies full of “beef crumble” pizza and marshmallow frosting.
To be fair, the evening did go almost exactly as planned, in terms of schedule. I knew enough to prepare for farts and butts and the occasional wiener comment. However, I did not prepare for my son’s friends to be so…disrespectful. In the roughly 16 hours the children were at my house:
- I had to separate two of the children about 5 or 6 times because one of the children would just WHALE on the other (and even with Marvel blow up boxing fists, it sucks to be hit in the face repeatedly and I am NOT taking children to the emergency room with broken faces.)
- One of the children told me, “Be quiet, woman!” presumably because he thought he was being “funny” except WHO TALKS TO THEIR FRIENDS’ MOMS THAT WAY?
- Overheard one child tell my son that he should “take the blame sometimes” even though the child who said it definitely threw something in my living room, and hurt another kid with it. (I explained that maybe if he didn’t do things he knew he shouldn’t do, he wouldn’t have to worry about anyone, himself included, taking the blame.)
- One kid started crying because of an incident involving a flashlight and another kid taking it from him.
- Overheard 2 of the children claim to have smoked cigars before. I walked into the living room, looked at both of them, and said, “No, you didn’t.” Then proceeded to talk over them until they were quiet.
And these were just some of the highlights from an evening of being told, “No!” when asked to do something (or, you know, NOT do something) and, “Yes!” when asked, “Do you talk to your own mother that way?” (I’m not sure that is true. Actually, I’m 99.9% sure it is NOT.)
Now, some of you (okay, fine, one of you OUT OF TWO) might be reading this and thinking, “OH PLEASE. What did you expect with 8 year old boys?” Well, and not to be shitty and on a high horse and if you read literally anything else that I have written here it will dispel any thought of me being some smug prick of a mom who constantly lauds her son and thinks he can do no wrong, but I expected them to act better because I know my son does when he goes to other people’s houses. He says please and thank you, and sometimes says, “Excuse me,” after he burps. Yes, he goes nuts and dances like Elaine Benes on a coke bender, but he’s not punching his friends in the face. When other parents ask him to clear his mess from the table, I know he does it without smirking at his friend’s parents and saying, “No.” (That also happened at my house, bee-tee-dubs.) And I’d like to think that if he did hear his friend tell his own mother to “Be quiet, woman!” my son would say to him, “Hey, you can’t talk to your mom that way,” just like he told his friend on Saturday that he cannot talk to ME that way.
My son spent most of his small birthday party trying to get his friends on his level – meaning to quit fighting, watch some Pacific Rim, play some Minecraft, and use the newly acquired fart machine. I knew to expect loud and crazy and physical, and I told him as much. But my son also knows the rules, and I had explained in painful, explicit detail just what would happen if something got broken because of disobeying a simple rule. My son knows I follow through, and my son knew his friends were his responsibility. Frankly, I was kind of in shock because never in a million YEARS would I have acted that way at a friend’s house. My boyfriend and I discussed this late that evening, after I’d finally verbally laid them out and made them go to sleep. Neither of us ever remember a time in OUR lives that we went to someone’s house and disrespected his or her parents. Crazy roughhousing? Secret cursing? Tall tales of rated-R movies we’d allegedly seen? Of course. But never in front of parents. And when those parents asked you something? “Yes, please.” “No, thank you.” “Sure, no problem.”
I don’t know. Maybe my own biases were shining through and that’s why I will never do this again. Our house is REALLY small. But at the same time, I shouldn’t hear an 8-year old complain at 12:30am that there is “nothing to do.” I told him that, indeed, there WAS something to do, and that something was to GO TO SLEEP. There is also the matter of my son, and how he handled himself. My boyfriend and I were genuinely proud of him for how he acted and how he handled his friends. He was the boss without being bossy, or pulling the shitty “MY HOUSE MY RULES” card. It was very managerial, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. So perhaps I will stick to my guns, in that I will never allow him to have a slepslumber PARTY at our (teensy) house again…but maybe I’ll allow him one friend. Every six months. Until he moves out.