Did you know that some parents take a really hard line on banning sleepovers? Probably, because it looks like I’m the only one that missed the memo, which might explain why — before I realized how out of vogue the tween staple actually is — so many of my kid’s friends’ moms looked at me like I’d just asked them if they’d like to come over later to help me express my dog’s anal glands when I asked them if their child was interested in coming to chill at Chez Edwards sometime.
I would learn later through the magic of Facebook and a slew of blog posts that sleepovers are a huge no-no, something that made my heart sink because they’ve been such a positive thing in my kid’s life so far. And once I started scrolling through the reasons why the banhammer has been so forcefully swung, I felt even worse, because they don’t make any sense, and that sucks for kids.
I’ve heard all kinds of reasons as to why sleepovers are the new parenting no-no; everything from “they turn your kids into crazed sugar monsters who will wreck my house” to “other parents will let my kid watch pornos and smoke cigarettes all night” and the ever popular “everyone is Schrodinger’s pedophile.” These are all wrong and stupid, and I’m tired of blithely nodding my head and pretending I’m on board with baseless paranoia. Your projections are garbage, and they’re making something that should be fun into garbage, too.
To the first, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve taught my child how to act in people’s homes. Anytime I drop her off somewhere, this is the conversation we have:
Me: Whose house is this?
Her: Mrs. Notmymom’s house.
Me: So who’s the boss?
Her: Mrs. Notmymom is the boss.
She knows that if she decides to wreck up the joint, she has Mrs. Notmymom and whatever consequences Mrs. Notmymom has for little joint wrecker-uppers to contend with, plus my own if I ever find out that she’s been acting a cot dang fool. As far as being sugared up, here’s an important lesson for kids: eat like crap, feel like crap. You’re still getting up at 7:00 a.m. Consider it college prep.
Here’s another one for parents that goes straight to concern No.2: You do not need to be so in control of every single sight, sound, smell and taste your child consumes that you become subsumed by the thought that letting them out of your sight for one night will destroy the values that you’ve instilled in them. If it does, then you’ve done a bad job instilling them, and that’s not a sleepover’s fault. If your kid has watched pornography at another adult’s house, that isn’t questionable judgement, it’s sexual abuse, which brings us to that third — and let’s face it, oft-cited and legitimately terrifying — concern.
You know that conversation that I have with my kid about rules? Here’s the caveat that she knows by heart concerning adults telling kids what to do: If it requires breaking the law or weird sexual shit, she is absolutely exempt from doing it, and she should aim for the crotch when she kicks, because that hurts no matter what equipment you’re sporting. That includes hugging, if it gives her a nasty feeling. It includes sex talk. Anything that makes her uncomfortable. She should also scream. And run. I know sexual abuse well, I’m sad to say, and we’ve been talking about this garbage forever.
But to be frank, I don’t worry about it so much that I allow the fear of an unlikely event to keep my child and me locked into our home. If I were going to try to keep my child protected from situations where she is the most likely to be sexually assaulted, she would never hang out with male family members. Any white dude, really, since they’re the most likely to do sick freaky crap around her. And there’s no way I would let her near a Christian or any religious family, since they make up the largest percentage of pedophiles, full stop.
Hell, if I wanted to make sure she was never harmed, period, I might make sure she’s never around a car, since being in or near one is the most likely thing to kill her. She would never swim, go outside, ride her bike or exist anywhere and do any of the things that she loves, because danger is everywhere. Yep, seems like a totally healthy and legit way to raise kids, not to mention super-duper fun!
But I let her do all of those things, because I’m not fucking bonkers, and I will be damned if I allow my kid to lead a life that is inspired and dictated by fear. Childhood today sucks enough anyway, between the standardized tests and dwindling recesses and parents escorting you into Target toilets well into your pubescent years. Banning sleepovers just makes it suck more. So you go ahead and enjoy your enormous, super-fun sounding bubble of restricted inside play where your kid is allowed to watch G-rated movies and eat ice chips, but only after they’ve been coated in a generous layer of Purell.
I’ll just be over here with sparkle toenail polish and a bathtub full of popcorn and a playlist that won’t quit. Tonight, my kid and her friends are going to have some fun. You know, fun? That thing that kids are allowed to have sometimes? See ya never, haters!