Sunday, 4 November 2012

Children of the Night...

H is having a sleepover. If ever there was a misnomer it has to be the term 'sleepover'.  All parental experience so far goes to confirm that very little actual  sleeping  takes place either for any child involved or any supervising adult. "It'll be fun!" she says as if this alone will convince me of the benefit of such a scheme.

Sleepovers seem to be a rite of passage for any child over the age of six and in order for it to be properly accomplished there is a whole host of ritualistic items to be bought.  Sacraments must include pizza; on one occasion to satisfy parents of a many food-allergy child (no one had invited them to a sleepover before for this very reason and I felt sorry for them) I searched high and low for a gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian version. Even the pinnacle of upmarket stores, Waitrose, was unable to offer me the complete package and I had to buy the raw ingredients and make the multi-tolerant pizza instead - the result was like a damp cardboard frisbee.

Dental cavities anyone?
Enormous quantities of sweets are stuffed into overnight bags to be consumed at midnight - jelly fangs, illicit Haribo, sour cherries - the more E numbers the better. I have never understood why anyone bothers to bring a toothbrush! Popcorn is another must-have. Much of this, I have found, has a tendency to adhere itself to the sofa and remains as a permanent fixture like some kind of cushion pebbledash.

The choice of movie is, of course, a hotly debated matter amongst sleepover attendees and a source of concern for parents.   Is a 15 rated film appropriate for a 14 year old?  (Personally, I think some are but there again there are 12 rated movies that have given me day and nightmares!) The older the child, the more likely it will be that someone will attempt to sneak in something wholly unsuitable. I greatly admired the child (and her absent parents) who brought a dog-eared copy of Mary Poppins to a teen sleepover once, especially when like a fervent Disney-styled preacher they managed to convert the heathen mass into actually watching it!

Unease about sleepovers is more than just a concern about movie ratings or tooth decay though.  There is nothing like the reveal-all honesty of children, who having spent a night in your house, will expose your family's peculiarities to all and sundry.  Euphemistically, I like to think of our housekeeping standards as 'bohemian' whereas, when compared to stay-at-home mum households, it is more likely to be classified as slovenly. I have niggling anxieties about being seen in my interesting choice of pyjamas and whether I will remember not to sing along loudly to Absolute 80s radio in the morning. But after sleeping lightly with the responsibility of other parents' precious progeny under my roof I stop worrying about what the house looks like and I have no energy to be anything other than my weird self.

Generally, there is such child-created mess and food debris left in the wake (no pun intended) of a sleepover that it would be pointless to tidy up beforehand anyway. The shrieks of laughter, nonsense games, dressing up, pantomine-style application of make-up and giggled whisperings into the night certainly sound like the soundtrack to the 'fun'  that H was so intent on having and who am I to stand in the way of such adolescent merriment.

H dressed as the sleepover bunny (it is nowhere near Easter?!)
Note that at this stage the sitting room is almost tidy

1 comment:

  1. Total agree on the term 'sleepover' being a misnomer - no one ever sleeps in my experience! Next weekend, the Tween turns Teen and I've promised a BBQ and sleepover in a tent in the garden....beginning to regret ever saying it! Thanks for linking to #oldiesbutgoodies