We Are Both Right

Please Tell My Son Sleepovers are Supposed to Be Fun

We want to like sleepovers in our house desperately. And we do — about 97.4 percent of the time. But it’s that 2.6 block that’s the sticking point.

On those nights when I should be soundly sleeping and my tween son C. should be wide awake, having the time of his life with his friends, pigging out on ice cream and other assorted junk and having as much fun as he can while lying on top of a sleeping bag, I have gotten the what-the-heck-time-is-it?, jarring-phone-jangling, rouse-me-out-of-a-deep-sleep call at least four times now. And they always go the same way.

The phone rings, usually around midnight or a little before, my husband T. and I groaning, knowing what is coming next. I take a deep breath and answer.

“Hi Mommy,” I hear my 10-year-old choke out, his voice quiet and small. Clearly he has been crying.



“Do you want Daddy to come get you?” I always ask.

“No,” he says. “I just miss you.”

“I know honey,” I say. “I miss you too. But you need to stop crying and go to sleep OK?”

“OK,” he says, only slightly cheered and hangs up, leaving me lying in bed, wide awake, my hope of having a restful night’s sleep long gone.

The next morning, our scene continues, again, the same each and every time. Me, apologizing profusely to the parents of the child whose house C. “slept over;” them telling me not to worry, they weren’t inconvenienced, it happens to lots of kids, that everything was fine up until the point when C. felt he needed to call and that he went to sleep right after speaking with me; C. bounding out of the house and over to the car, all smiles — “Mom I had so much fun!”


And yet, still every time C. gets an invitation to spend the night at the home of his friend, we both always say yes, without missing a beat. Gluttons for punishment? Maybe, but I think we are hoping eventually the next time will be different.

As a kid, I used to love sleepovers. Hosting them, attending them, whichever. Me and a bunch of my friends or even just one or two, giggling and bonding, sharing junk food, watching movies and not sleeping. I view sleepovers as an important rite of passage — one that kids are supposed to enjoy and look forward to, not call home in the middle of the night from. But still, my experience and C.’s enthusiasm for the event (until the wee small hours of the morning anyway) keep us both optimists.

(And I think up until that moment when he feels the need to call, C. does have a good time with his friends — lots of videogames and movies and whatever it is tween boys do for fun. I think he just reaches a point where he gets super tired and a bit homesick and he doesn’t quite have the emotional maturity to handle it yet. I should also say that when he and his friends sleep here, he does just fine. As when he sleeps over at grandparent’s or his aunt’s house.)

I suppose, given the circumstances, it would be easy for me to not allow my kids (or at least C., my daughter A. who just started being allowed to spend the night at a friend’s house and would never speak to me again) to go on sleepovers, especially when you consider the other downsides to them — the kids are usually up if not all night, very late, making them cranky/useless the next day; somehow a kid always winds up crying, whether in the case of my son or some form or teasing or prank; and if you are the hosting family, the adults never get to sleep.

But none of that really bothers me — any negatives far outweighed by hearing my kids sleepover “war stories” — how they stayed up late and had a massive pillow fight and ate their weight in gummi bears.

Do you let your kids go on sleepovers? What is a good age to start?

Suzanne offered to have my kids sleep over her house once after a birthday party, but I didn’t take her up on it. After reading her take (and she reads mine), I wonder if we’ll ever be invited again!

4 Responses to “Please Tell My Son Sleepovers are Supposed to Be Fun”

  1. Romy says:

    I totally feel for C. excep I ALWAYS made my mom pick me up. Sleepover parties were the WORST! I used to make up a story with my mom in advance … something about early morning skating, so I wouldn’t look like a big baby.

  2. amanda says:

    Aww Romy, I had no idea. And seeing as how you are one of the most confident people I know, I’m shocked! But at least you planned in advance. Every time C. is convinced he’s going to make it through!


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